Reduce Winter Allergy Symptoms
Although the winter brings a lot of great things like snow days and holidays, it also brings something nagging: winter allergy symptoms.
While some people get relief from their pollen allergies in the winter, others find that their indoor allergies to things like mold and dust mites increase during these months. The symptoms are often quite unpleasant, and it can make the winter months drag even more than they already do.
However, there are ways that you can reduce your symptoms. Unfortunately, many people experience winter allergies due to having lower quality heating and air systems that harbor the allergens.
So, let’s take a closer look at what winter allergies are, the symptoms you might experience, and how you can reduce many of these symptoms by having a high-quality heating and air system.
Who’s At Risk?
Although it’s unfair, you’re likely more at risk to experience winter allergy symptoms if you’re someone who already experiences allergies in the summer months. The reason being that a lot of the allergens that are around in the summer months naturally are actually around all year inside your house.
You probably spend a lot less time in the home with the windows closed during warmer months. So, when you close up those windows and turn on your heater that’s been dormant for quite a while, you expose yourself to the allergens inside your home that have been hidden inside your HVAC system.
So, the best way to combat those allergies is to understand what triggers your symptoms, why that happens, and how you can combat them.
Common Allergy Triggers
One of the best ways to reduce your winter allergy symptoms is to understand what triggers them so that you can more effectively reduce your exposure. Some of the most common triggers are:
- Pet Dander: You may not notice your pets causing you issues in the summer months because you have the windows open more and the animals spend more time outside. When you close those windows and keep your animal inside more often, you may start to notice that the dander irritates you. Plus, your pets might love to roll around and play in the snow, leading to more natural irritants being carried inside the house.
- Mold and Mildew: As you move from fall into winter, there are a lot of plants that are dying or decaying. That yard waste is an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew. With people walking around out in the yard, it’s easy to track all of that inside.
- Warmer Climates: For those that live in an area with warmer winters with little or no frost or freeze, things like pollen never really go away.
- Damp Wood: When you cut wood and leave it out for the winter, it gets rained and snowed on. Damp wood is an excellent breeding ground for mold spores. If you bring that damp wood inside your home, you’re bringing in a lot of allergens. If you find that your allergies act up during this holiday season by bringing by you bring in a natural Christmas tree, you may want to consider switching over to an artificial one.
HVAC and Allergies
One thing that often exacerbates winter allergy symptoms that many people don’t even think about is their HVAC system. Unfortunately, the heating and air system in your home can both harbor and spread common allergens like mold.
To prevent your HVAC system from irritating your allergies even further, it’s important that you optimize your system and maintain it on a regular basis. Here are a few ways that you can do that:
- Use High-Quality Filters: Filters are one of the most effective ways to combat allergens in your HVAC system. Higher quality filters, such as HEPA, can filter out things like microscopic particles, which reduces the allergens in your home. Once you have them, be sure to check them monthly and replace them once every three months or so. You can learn more about the best air filters for allergies by reading our other blog post, “The Best Air Conditioner Filters For Allergies”.
- Get Rid of Debris Around Your Units: Outdoor units pull air from outside of your home to use inside the home. If you have debris surrounding your outdoor unit, it’s likely pulling in all kinds of allergens. Check for dust and debris, and clean them up if you find any. During the winter months, debris can become trapped in ice, so make sure to chip away any formations that would block your unit’s natural airflow. That goes for your indoor unit as well. Sweep and vacuum around the area surrounding your unit regularly.
- Check for Mold: Your HVAC units are prime for mold when you use your home’s heater more often. Besides, units are often found in dark, damp environments. So, check your ducts, drip pan, drain, evaporator coils, and the air handler semi-regularly (every couple of weeks) to ensure that there isn’t mold growing. Aside from causing allergy problems, mold can make you seriously ill if it goes unchecked long enough. Call a technician to remove mold buildup safely.
- Dust Registers and Vents: Most people dust their homes regularly, but they often forget to give attention to the registers and vents of their floor or ceiling. When you run your air conditioning or heat, the air will blow through these areas first before it gets to you. If there’s dust in them, the air will spread allergens all throughout your home. Use a damp or treated rag to avoid kicking up dust around the house. If you schedule a professional yearly cleaning, you probably won’t have this problem.
- Call a Professional: While you can take care of a lot of the basic maintenance around the house, it’s good to call a qualified HVAC professional out every once in awhile for maintenance. They can keep your system healthy and ensure that your unit is optimized for allergy prevention.
These simple steps can help prevent a lot of misery during those winter months for those who experience allergies.
Get Started Today
If you’re like most people, you already do some of these things on a semi-regular basis. However, most people don’t keep a regular schedule for all of these things.
If you’re serious about preventing allergies and keeping your home environment clean during the winter months, you should have a checklist that you take care of both every year. Regular maintenance is the best way to keep both your system and your home clean and healthy.
For those who would like to learn more about HVAC maintenance or schedule a home visit, feel free to give us a call today (706) 722-5304!