The Allergenic Furnace-Owner's Guide to Better Air Quality

Your furnace plays an incredibly important role in the climate of your home, but it can also impact your indoor air quality. If you suffer from allergies or any form of rhinitis, it is vital that you keep it in good working order at all times. If you don't, you'll surely pay for it—in the form of itchy eyes, sneezes, and plenty of frustration. Read more to learn how you can make sure that the air you breath is warm, comforting and clean.

Keep it Clean

As someone who is prone to allergies, it's important that you have your system cleaned at least twice per year. If you're extra-sensitive, make it four times per year to ensure that all of the excess dust and debris that accumulates within the system is promptly removed. You can learn to do this yourself, but if you aren't feeling confident, it's easy to have your maintenance man come in for a service call instead.

Cleaning out the dust is one of the most vital steps you can take; if the dust is left inside, your furnace will simply redistribute it throughout your ducts and vents. What that means is that you're eventually breathing it in, producing more of the same unwanted symptoms.

As a general rule, if the season has changed, it's probably worth opening up the furnace for a cleaning.

Use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filter

The majority of furnaces won't require you to use a HEPA filter, but many do make the option available. These innovative devices filter out more debris than standard filters. Each is designed to specifically target allergens and trigger substances at a rate of up to 99 percent, as long as the particles are 0.3 microns in size.

How big is 0.3 microns? Well, consider that a single red blood cell within your body is nearly 5 microns across—now divide that in enough parts to get to 0.3. That's pretty small!

The debris removed can include pet dander, dust, and even certain environmental chemicals, resulting in air that contains fewer allergens and fewer triggers. For those with true allergies, HEPA filters are an absolute must.

Understand the Risks of Electrostatic Filters

A second type of filter, known as an electrostatic filter, is often recommended for those with allergies. These use both static electricity and a fine surface to help trap or kill off any potential triggers. Those who swear by them often do so simply because they have the capacity to trap even smaller debris than a HEPA filter. 

Using an electrostatic filter can actually trigger allergies, as they produce a high amount of ozone as a byproduct of everyday operation. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that, in some cases, the amount they produce can be higher than acceptable levels. 

High levels of ozone can also have a detrimental impact on health. This is true even for the average Joe, let alone someone who suffers from allergies already. Because many of the electronics used in your home already create a very low level of ozone, it may be best to use these with caution. 

A HEPA filter may be less effective at catching the very smallest particles, but it is less likely to aggravate your sensitivities just from simple use.

When it comes to creating a comfortable, happy home with allergies, your air quality and climate are your foundation. Having the right HVAC system, whether you're heating or cooling at any given time, can make a big difference. If you have questions about indoor air quality, or you need assistance with periodic maintenance, get in touch with a contractor today.