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Along with all the spring flowers and beautiful breezy spring days here in Philadelphia, come the runny noses, sinus headaches and itchy eyes from the pollen circulating in the air.

By keeping your air conditioning filters clean and maintained by your local HVAC contractor, it can make a significant difference in the management of your allergy symptoms.

If you have allergies or asthma, indoor air pollution will cause your symptoms to flare up. Indoor air pollution levels are actually much higher than those outdoors .  In fact they are two to five times higher.

The source of the air pollution can be any of these common indoor allergens, or a combination of more that one:

Common Indoor Allergens

Common indoor allergens include:

  • Mold
  • Pet dander (skin flakes), saliva, and urine
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Pollen

When these particles become airborne, you can breathe them in and experience an allergic reaction.

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in your house can hold onto and spread mold and other allergens.

Optimize Your HVAC System

Filters can help lessen exposure to allergens from your HVAC system. Filters may be built into the air ducts in your home, however each filter is made differently.

The effectiveness of filters are measured by MERVs [minimum efficiency recording value],” . MERVs range from 1 to 20, with 20 providing the highest level of particle filtration.

Types of HVAC Filters

Other things to know about HVAC filters include the following:

  • HEPA filters. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters have MERV ratings of 17 to 20, and are not typically recommended for centralized home HVAC systems unless major — read expensive — updates are made to the system. This is because high energy and HEPA filters can be so efficient that your HVAC system ends up requiring more energy to power the fan that gets air circulating.
  • Medium efficiency filters. These pleated furnace filters have a higher surface area and, therefore, filter more particles out of the air. Their MERV rating ranges from five to 13.
  • High efficiency filters. These filters have MERV ratings of 14 to 16, and remove even smaller particles than pleated filters.
  • Flat panel filters. These filters, put in place by most furnace manufacturers, generally have a rating of one to four MERVs, and are designed to protect the furnace, not improve indoor air quality.

Since higher efficiency and HEPA filters can put so much stress on your HVAC system, it is recommended to use medium efficiency filters for most homes.  They are very effective at removing small to large particles.

Controlling Indoor Allergens: Regular HVAC Maintenance

It is important to change filters regularly, as recommended, or every two months during use, and follow any maintenance instructions recommended by the air conditioner system’s manufacturer. If you think mold may be growing inside your air conditioning system, you will want to consider having the air ducts cleaned.

If you see mold particles growing around or near the ducts or on other components of the system or if you smell a musty or moldy odor coming off your vents, consult a duct cleaning professional to check for an accumulation of mold.

Another thing you may want to consider when building a new home or replacing your existing HVAC system is a unit that replaces indoor air with filtered outdoor air.

Some HVAC systems will draw in air from the outside to the inside to help with the ventilation. Increased ventilation in your home will help reduce mold growth and other sources of indoor pollution. Which will then help to lessen allergy symptoms or flare ups.

For more information about HVAC maintenance, filters or A/C repair or replacement contact HVAC Philly, serving the greater Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery Counties for over 20 years.  www.hvacphilly.com or call 215-725-6111

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