Sneeze much lately? Is your throat scratchy? Eyes watering, too? You're not alone: Allergies affect more than 20 percent of Americans, and here in the Austin area, that statistic skyrockets! Medications can help relieve allergy symptoms, but removing irritants from your home is a much more effective way to stop your stuffy nose, headache, itchy eyes, and shortness of breath.
1. Find the Root of the Problem
Visiting an allergist will help you focus your preventative measures. The most common offenders are dust mites, mold, pollens, and pet dander.
2. Start in the Bedroom
Once you've established what causes your allergies, work your way around the house eliminating those specific allergens, starting with your bedroom.
3. Just Say No to Carpet
If possible, replace them with hardwood or other impervious flooring, especially in the bedroom. Pretty much every allergen accumulates in carpet—dust, pollen, pet dander. Plus, walking over carpet just re-releases all the allergens into the air you breathe.
4. Avoid Tracking
Lay down two doormats at each entryway (one outside, one inside) to keep outdoor irritants from finding their way inside. Additionally, remove shoes upon entry as to not spread allergens around.
5. Upgrade Your Vacuum
If it doesn't have a HEPA filter, switch to one that does. They're specially made to trap particles as tiny as 0.3 microns—which means they'll be able to capture most allergens.
6. Change or Clean Those Air Filters!
This is something that HVAC professionals can’t stress enough. Just follow the manufacturers' instructions on timing and frequency. Not only does this simple task help with regulating allergens but it also keeps your air conditioning system working better for longer.
7. Ditch the Curtains
Blinds or shades trap fewer allergens than fabric window treatments, but if you insist on curtains, opt for the machine-washable kind, which are easier to keep dust-free. Remove dust by vacuuming once a week with a brush attachment, and wash them frequently during months when you keep the windows open.
8. Minimize Mold
There are more than 100,000 species of mold on the planet, and one of their favorite places to live is your bathroom. Clean it regularly, making sure to dry off surfaces that collect standing water, and make sure it's well ventilated.
9. Inspect Every Corner
Don’t forget to look under the kitchen sink! It's a prime spot for mold growth when pipes drip. Pull everything out of the cabinet and inspect the interior carefully for signs of leaks. Also look for mouse droppings and cockroach webs, since rodents and bugs can trigger allergies, too. Get leaks fixed, seal holes, clean the area, and keep it tidy and dry to eliminate irritant build-up.
10. Let it Out
Do your kitchen and bathroom fans just re-circulate indoor air or vent into the attic? If you can, replace them with true exhaust fans, which direct particles and humidity out of the house entirely. Venting damp spaces to your attic just leads to mold growth which can quickly cause bigger issues throughout the rest of your house.
11. Invest in a Room Air Purifier
Just be aware that they have limitations as they can only intercept airborne allergens and not what has already settled into carpet and fabric (where the majority of allergens reside). Still, they can be effective, particularly if you're bothered by pollen. Make sure the one you buy doesn't produce ozone, a gas that's extremely irritating to people with allergies—the last thing you'd ever want!
Any other questions about keeping allergens out of your home? Contact us here at AC Express to have your questions answered or to schedule an appointment.