Asthma is a challenging condition, with so many triggers that can bring on an attack. When you spend a lot of time inside, the building’s HVAC system may contribute to the symptoms that you may experience. Consider these six ways you can optimize your HVAC system to reduce the risk of triggering asthma symptoms.
Tend to Your Furnace Filter
The easiest thing you can do is regularly tend to your furnace filter. This filter’s job is to pull contaminants from the air, many of which are asthma triggers.
However, when left untended, those particles build up, restricting the air flowing through the system. Restricted airflow reduces the volume of air moving through the filter, leaving more particles in the air.
Additionally, clogged air filters may cause leaks in the system, either around the filter or in the ductwork. These leaks then circulate unfiltered air, continuing to exacerbate your asthmatic condition.
The air quality in your home will determine how often you’ll need to change the filter. Most filters will last for at least a month, with some continuing for several months before needing a replacement.
If you deal with asthma, you may want to change your filters more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. Additionally, consider checking your filter weekly and vacuuming off any surface dust. This allows the filter to continue pulling the maximum number of particles from the circulating air.
Be cautious replacing your filter with a much higher MERV-rated filter, such as a HEPA filter. The higher the rating, the finer the holes are, requiring a stronger draw to bring air through them. Installing a filter that’s too fine may restrict airflow through your system to the point of choking its efficiency and damaging your system.
Have Your Ducts Cleaned
Ductwork is notorious for collecting various airborne contaminants, including pollen, dust, and pest feces. As your system runs, the air circulating through picks up small particles from what’s collected in your ducts and puts them back out into your air.
The contaminants end up in your ducts from three sources. The most obvious is through the openings of your vents. Be careful trying to put anything that may guard against this since it could inadvertently restrict the air moving from the vents.
Some contaminants also make their way through your air filter. Your filter catches most of the larger particles before they can enter your HVAC system. However, smaller particles flow right through, eventually collecting, with some remaining in your ducts.
Additionally, any holes in your ductwork allow unfiltered air through your system. This increases the number of contaminants finding their way into your ducts.
Be careful thinking you can clean your ducts. It’s easy to damage the ductwork if you don’t have the right equipment and training to clean them properly.
Depending on the severity of asthma in your home, you may want to have your ducts cleaned every three to five years. If someone has highly sensitive triggers, you may want to consider cleaning them more often.
Keep Up on Routine Maintenance
Routine heating and cooling maintenance are critical for keeping asthmatic triggers to a minimum. The common recommendation is having your heating system maintained in the fall and your air conditioner serviced in the spring.
One of the critical pieces of maintenance for asthma suffers is the cleaning the technician performs. Specifically, the technician will focus on internal areas like the furnace burner, the heat exchanger, evaporator coil, and circulating fan. These are areas that collect contaminants that may become significant triggers.
Beyond cleaning the system, the technician will also ensure the system is operating correctly, including circulating the right amount of air. If the circulating fan motor has an issue or is nearing the end of its service life, it may not spin as quickly. This reduces the system’s efficiency but also reduces the air volume running through your filter.
Control Your Humidity
Humidity is one of the most important indoor variables for controlling asthmatic triggers. The EPA suggests the ideal indoor humidity is between 30% and 50% relative. Being on either side of this range can increase asthmatic symptoms.
Your respiratory tract is easily irritated when the humidity is too low, contributing to the inflammation tied to asthma. Additionally, low humidity causes airborne particles to dry out, which makes them lighter and able to stay airborne longer.
On the other end of the spectrum, humidity that’s too high encourages various biological particles to take hold in your home and grow. As they grow, they release more particles in the air, increasing the volume of triggers you must confront.
Las Vegas is notoriously dry, so adding humidity to your home is a necessity most of the year. You can attempt to control it through individual room vaporizers.
Ventilation is critical for reducing some airborne triggers, such as VOCs and other chemicals. Even if you use special cleaning products, your home’s carpets, furniture, paint, and even linens release some of these chemicals into the air.
One of the best ways to help reduce the concentration of these various gasses is through effective ventilation. Your bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans are part of the solution. However, you may need to consider more effective methods.
In the summer, the outgoing air absorbs heat from the incoming air, reducing the strain on your air conditioner. Over the winter, the outgoing air preheats the incoming air, leaving less work for your furnace.
Consider Purification Options
You may want to consider adding air purification options. There are more substantial filters you can use to remove finer airborne contaminants. Available options include both system-wide and individual room models.
There are also air scrubbers, which often use ionization technology. These air scrubbers release negatively charged ions into the air, which attract airborne particles. As these particles come together, their weight increases enough to make them fall from the air.
There are also UV light purifiers, which render many biological contaminants inert. The UV light damages the particles’ DNA, preventing them from completing their cellular function. This prevents the contaminants from multiplying and changes how the body’s immune system responds to those particles it encounters.
There are a variety of ways you can optimize your HVAC system to make dealing with asthma easier. Determining which is the best option for your home is a bit of science that air quality specialists have perfected. Work with a qualified and experienced specialist to make sure you’re not wasting money but getting the best options for your situation.
When people around Las Vegas want to improve their indoor air quality, they turn to the experts at Sierra Air Conditioning & Heating. Our experts provide individualized indoor air quality solutions along with heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repairs. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our indoor air quality specialists today.