If you suffer from seasonal or year-round allergies, you’re not alone. Many people deal with these symptoms, which can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Elk Grove, CA, has many trees and a long growing season, which means people with pollen allergies suffer for more than half of the year. Sometimes, excess mucus production and congestion lead to more serious problems, such as sinus infections and headaches. At Huft Home Services, our NATE-certified heating and air conditioning technicians offer these six tips for allergy-proofing your Elk Grove home.
1. Upgrade Air Filtration
Your heating and cooling system’s air filter is the first line of defense against allergens. It captures dust, pollen, mold spores and pet dander. After about a month of use, the pores of the filter start to fill with particles. Check the filter monthly. If you see a layer of grime, replace the filter. Don’t wait more than 90 days between filter changes.
When choosing a new filter for your home’s heating and cooling system, select one with the highest minimum efficiency reported value (MERV) rating you can find. If you have any allergies or a member of your household has asthma, look for a MERV rating of at least 16. Consider an air purifier that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
2. Control Indoor Humidity
High indoor humidity levels fuel the reproduction of dust mites. Other allergenic pests also like high indoor humidity. Cockroaches, mice, spiders and other critters need a source of water. High indoor humidity is also attractive to other household pests, such as termites and ants. Keep your home’s humidity level between 30% and 50%. If just one area of your home tends to have high humidity, a portable dehumidifier can help. You may benefit from a whole-home dehumidifier. If you choose a whole-home dehumidifier, it will reduce the workload on your air conditioner, and your cooling system might last longer.
Another way to control indoor humidity is with exhaust fans. Cooking and bathing create a lot of humidity. Make sure exhaust fans ventilate to the outdoors. You may also want an exhaust fan in your laundry room.
3. Replace Carpeting With Other Flooring
Carpeting traps allergens, such as dust, pet dander and pollen. If you routinely walk around your house with shoes on, you’re grinding those allergens into the carpet fibers. Even a strong vacuum won’t be able to get all the allergens out of the carpet. A hard surface type of flooring is a better choice, especially if you have allergies. Some options to consider when replacing your carpeting include vinyl planks, laminate, tile, hardwood and linoleum. Bamboo is another good option. These materials are easy to clean and don’t trap allergens.
While you’re replacing your carpeting with a hard surface type of floor, consider replacing upholstered furniture. Plush sofas and recliners are comfortable, but they’re also a great hiding place for dust and dust mites. Pet hairs are hard to get out of upholstered furniture. Choose seating made of leather, plastic or wood. Consider throw pillows or cushions that can be removed and laundered. It’s also a good idea to remove drapes and curtains. Replace them with blinds or shades that you can wipe clean with a damp cloth.
4. Get Rid of Clutter
Clutter isn’t just an eyesore. It attracts allergens that could make your symptoms worse. Dust settles on items piled onto surfaces. If you’ve ever seen a dust cloud disperse after grabbing something off a pile that’s been sitting there for a while, you may have coughed or sneezed after breathing in those particles. Clutter piled up by vents and registers impedes airflow and traps dust and debris in the vents.
Clutter also provides an excellent hiding place for pests, including cockroaches and dust mites. These pests are common indoor allergens. The critters will hide in cabinets, drawers, boxes and bins full of stuff. If you rarely access those items, pests and mold can thrive in the clutter. If you do need to store some items, use plastic bins with a lid. Air out the items every couple of months, and inspect them for signs of pest or mold infestation. If anything has damage or mold growth, get rid of it.
5. Frequently Clean Your Home
Frequent cleaning of your home helps get rid of many allergens. Dust is one of the most common allergens. If you’re allergic to dust, wear a face mask while cleaning. Wipe surfaces with a damp cloth every day. Remove vent and register coverings once each week. Wash them in warm, soapy water. With your vacuum’s extension hose, suction dust out of the vent opening. Furthermore, you should schedule professional duct cleaning every one to two years.
Regularly clean your refrigerator. Get rid of anything out of date or moldy. Pay extra attention to the seals, which trap moisture and facilitate mold growth. Spray a shower cleaning solution or wipe the shower or bathtub dry. This reduces mold growth. Use exhaust fans to get rid of moisture from cooking and showering. Throw away anything with visible mold or mildew on it.
6. Groom Pets and Get Rid of Pests
Dogs and cats are sources of unconditional love. They’re entertaining, and they can even give your mental health a big boost. However, their dander is a common source of indoor allergens. Even if you’re not allergic to dogs or cats, their dander can irritate your eyes, nose and throat. Whenever possible, brush your pet outdoors. Vacuum every day if you have a long-haired pet. Choose a vacuum that’s specially designed for households with dogs and cats. Don’t forget to vacuum the upholstery, your pet’s bed and vent openings. Don’t let your pet sleep in your bedroom. Be sure to encase your mattress and box spring in an allergen-proof cover. These covers prevent pet dander and dust mites from settling into the fibers of your mattress or pillow.
Pests are another source of allergens. Many people are allergic to cockroaches, mice and other vermin. Even if you’re not allergic, the presence of pests in your home could result in damage to walls, wiring, stored items, food and furniture. Mice and rats have fleas, which carry infectious diseases. Pests that bite could also be harmful and painful. To keep allergenic pests out of your home, keep food sealed in glass or metal containers. Avoid keeping bowls of dog or cat food out all day. Get garbage cans that can be secured. Regularly clean your home. Wipe spills as soon as possible. Check for water leaks, which not only fuel mold growth, but they also attract pests. Seal any tiny gaps or cracks around your home’s foundation, walls, windows or doors. A mouse can squeeze through an opening that’s just one-half an inch in diameter. A rat fits through an opening one inch in diameter.
Huft Home Services is the trusted provider of indoor air quality solutions in Elk Grove and the surrounding communities. We offer affordable heating and air conditioning repair, installation and maintenance services. Our skilled technicians also handle insulation, whole-house fans, maintenance agreements, home performance tests and inspections. To learn more about allergy-proofing your Elk Grove Home, call us at Huft Home Services today.