Allergy Attacks In Fall And Winter? 3 Furnace Fixes That Can Help

Construction & Contractors Articles

If you're an allergy sufferer, you're probably used to regular allergy attacks or difficulty breathing during the spring and summer months. Those are the times when the pollen count is the highest and you're most likely to encounter allergy triggers. So, you should be looking forward to being able to breathe a sigh of relief in the fall and winter months, right? Not necessarily. You may notice that once the weather cools down, you have a harder time breathing inside your own house than you did before the temperatures dropped. The problem may be your furnace. Take a look at three furnace fixes that can help you get back to breathing easily now that the days have cooled off.

Look into Duct Cleaning

All spring and summer long, your furnace ducts have been sitting there unused. But that doesn't mean that they've been doing nothing. While they've been sitting there, they've been collecting things – unfortunately, your ducts aren't full of the kinds of things that you want floating through your air.

Dust, pet dander, and even pollen particles that someone tracked in can all settle in your furnace ducts. These particles don't bother you during the warm days when they're just lying there dormant. But when winter comes and you turn the furnace on to warm up, the air rushing through the ducts brings all of those particles to life, and sends them out into your airspace. When you breathe them in, it triggers the asthma or allergy attack.

A simple fix is to have the ducts cleaned. Ideally, you should call your furnace repair service and schedule a duct cleaning in the early to mid-fall – before it gets cold enough that you have to turn on the furnace. That way the particulates in your ductwork are gone before they ever get to your airspace. But if you didn't do that before you turned the furnace on and you're finding yourself short of breath, it's not too late. Schedule a duct cleaning right away.

Upgrade Your Filter

If you're sure that your ducts aren't the cause of your allergy problems, it's possible that you need to use a better filter in your furnace. Your furnace's filter is supposed to catch the kinds of things that trigger allergy and asthma attacks, like carpet fibers and dust. However, not all filters are created equal, and some let a lot more slide through.

Furnace filters are rated on the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) scale. The scale starts at one and goes up to 16. If you're using the filter recommended by your furnace manufacturer, it may be rated as low as a 4. That's enough to filter out large particles and maintain the maximum amount of air flow, but it's not enough for an allergy sufferer.

A filter rated 7 or 8 is preferred even by many non-allergic people, and a filter rated 11 or higher is best for allergy or asthma sufferers. A high efficiency filter rated 11 or higher should filter out most of the bothersome particles that are causing your allergy attacks.

Install a UV Light

One more thing that can cause breathing problems is mold or bacteria inside the furnace. Sometimes mold or bacterial growths can form on the heating coil, which can result in bad smells and difficulty breathing as the air passes over the coil and is filtered out into your home.

The best thing to do at that point is to have the heating coil professionally cleaned. However, you'll also want to prevent this growth from occurring again. To do that, you can have a UV furnace light installed. The UV rays will kill mold or bacteria before they have a chance to grow and colonize on the coil, and prevent future allergy attacks and unpleasant odors.

If you're unsure about the healthiest way to maintain your furnace and minimize the risk of allergy and asthma attacks, your local furnace repair service can help answer your questions about duct cleaning, filters, and UV lights.  You can go to websites of local HCAV companies to learn more. 

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