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Healthy Clean Air | Healthy Air |

Best air cleaners for the best indoor air quality

2 minute read

Air Cleaners To Catch Just About Anything

Dear Jim:

I want the best quality air at home for my family. I am trying to decide which type of central air cleaner is best. Will installing a central air cleaner make my heating and cooling more efficient? — Steve D.

Dear Steve:

Installing a high-quality central air cleaner in the furnace/air conditioner duct system does not technically improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. What it will do is keep the heating and cooling units running at their highest original efficiency levels.

With a lower-quality air cleaner, such as the standard 1-inch-thick fiberglass filter, dust and dirt can build up on the heat exchanger and cooling coil surfaces. This dust creates a layer of insulation so heat is not exchanged as effectively as it should be. This reduces efficiency.

Types of Air Cleaners

Within the past year or two, several air cleaner and heating equipment manufacturers have come out with new super-efficient central air cleaners. They can even catch flu viruses and bacteria as they pass through the duct system.

Until this technology was developed, electronic air cleaners used wires of one charge and a collection cell of the opposite charge to catch the air particles. When the collection cell was dirty, it was washed off in the dishwasher, bathtub or outdoors and slipped back into the unit. The new super-efficient ones use collection media that is replaced, not washed.

For many people, the older technology is adequate. I use this kind of air cleaner in my own home. For people with allergies to some of the smallest particles in the indoor air, the new electronic air cleaners are more effective. The electricity cost to operate either type is not significant.

Another option is a pleated media air cleaner. This type of unit is less expensive and relies on many square feet of folded filter material to catch particles as the air passes through it. There are various levels of media quality and price. The cleaning effectiveness of various models can be compared by their MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating.

If you do not want to have the ducts modified to install a new air cleaner, consider a self-charging electrostatic model. This slips into the existing furnace filter slot and is many times more effective than a fiberglass filter. Another option is a bypass HEPA air cleaner that has its own air circulation motor.

Healthy Clean Air | Environment |

Top 5 Summer Allergens Invading The Home

2 minute read

Top 5 Summer Allergens

Summer Allergen #1: Pollen

  • Six out of ten people are exposed to pollen trapped indoors

Summer Allergen #2: Dust Mites

  • An estimated 10% of the general population, and 90% of people with allergic asthma, are sensitive to dust mites

Summer Allergen #3: Pet Dander

  • An estimated 10% of the entire population may be allergic to pet dander

Summer Allergen #4: Mold

  • Roughly 15% of Americans are allergic to mold. Moisture control is the most important strategy for reducing indoor allergens from mold growth

Summer Allergen #5: Mildew

  • Scientists have identified over 1,000 types of mold and mildew inside houses in the United States

Prevent Irritants from Entering Your Home

Take measures to reduce allergens by making sure dust, dirt, and other pollutants are prevented from entering the house. Remove shoes before entering the household. Be sure to close and windows and doors during high pollen days. Do not allow smoking indoors.

Install a Whole-Home Air Purifier System

Whole-home air purifier systems remove up to 99% of airborne allergens and contaminants (even those one micron in size) and are 40 times more efficient than a standard furnace filter. This system removes allergens such as dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, viruses, fungi, mold, and other dangerous substances from the air throughout the entire home.

Maintain Humidity Levels at Home

Whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help control allergens with the perfect level of moisture—one in which dust mites, mold, and mildew are not likely to survive.

Healthy Clean Air | Environment |

Spring Cleaning for Your Indoor Air

2 minute read

One of the best parts of annual spring cleaning is the chance to open up and air out the house. It feels good to clean up the dust, flush out stale odors, and take a breath of fresh air. However, soon enough, rising temperatures will mean it’s time to turn on the A/C and close up the house again. Start thinking about what you can do to improve your home’s Indoor Air Quality. Check out these tips and suggestions for keeping your indoor air pure and fresh.

Ditch the Chemicals and Scents

Many household cleaners, air fresheners, and even scented candles can fill your home with harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These VOCs irritate asthma symptoms and other respiratory conditions. One solution is to opt for more traditional cleaners, like vinegar, and use dried potpourri instead of aerosol fragrances. When you begin spring cleaning, properly dispose of or use up what’s left of harsh chemicals and replace your stock with alternatives.

Whole-Home Air Purification

High-efficiency air purifiers, installed as part of your home’s HVAC system, can drastically cut down on dust, allergens, bacteria, and viruses. Unlike room air purifiers, whole-home systems improve the air throughout the entire house on-demand and anytime the air conditioner is running. Noticeably cut down on dust for a cleaner, more comfortable home and a healthier environment for family members with asthma, allergies, or breathing problems.

Whole-Home Ventilation

All homes—especially newer construction—can build up high concentrations of VOCs along with bad odors, smoke, and excess humidity. All of these conditions can greatly impact health and comfort as well as damage your home. Whole-home ventilation solutions expel dirty air and replace it with fresh, outdoor air without negatively impacting your energy bill. Just because your A/C is running doesn’t mean your home should be filled with stale, unhealthy air.

 

Environment |

Summer’s Most Common Bugs

2 minute read

When it comes to a love of humidity, humans and pests are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While we tend to despise air that is thick with heat and water vapor, most bugs actually thrive in it and need it to live.

Unfortunately, this means that the impending summer humidity in certain parts of the country is about to bring these summer pests out in a big way.

Summer’s Most Common Pests

Cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most common roach species infesting our homes in North America. They are attracted to warm and humid places, making your kitchen and the water heater in the basement their most frequented hideaways.

Silverfish

These small, wingless insects are nocturnal and need to keep their bodies moist at all times in order to survive. You are likely to find them beneath boxes or furniture in your basement, the shower, or hiding in your kitchen.

Centipedes

Carnivorous and nocturnal, with their 100 feet, these pests can move quickly and spend most of the day hiding in humid, secluded places. They are highly attracted to the moist, humid parts of the home because they need to rehydrate constantly in order to live.

Earwigs

Known to burrow into topsoil outside, these nocturnal bugs can also infiltrate dark and humid areas of your home. You are most likely to find them around floor drains, bathrooms, or under rugs or furniture.

Roly-Poly Bugs

Also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, potato bugs, or armadillo bugs, these bugs often infest damp basements.

Tips to Prevent/Eliminate Summer Pests:

Healthy Home |

Professionals Needed: Here Are The Home Projects You Should Never DIY

2 minute read

So you bought your first house and can’t wait to rip up that crummy carpet. Go for it! But if you hit dirt, you might need to call in backup. As more millennials take the plunge into home ownership, it’s becoming more and more common to see DIY projects big and small. Things like carpet removal are doable. But no matter how many tips and tricks you’ve picked up from HGTV, Pinterest, or YouTube, there are some projects that simply aren’t worth the money, time, or risk to do yourself.

Setting Limits on DIY Home Projects

Skill Level for DIY Home Projects:

For some people, DIY is a way of life. For the rest of us, we need to be honest about our skills and level of experience. Sometimes a “simple” job can actually be a lot more complex than it appears. Hire a professional for these projects before you try it yourself and make a mistake that costs way more to fix.

  • Paving your driveway
  • Custom kitchen and bathroom jobs – backsplashes, flooring, countertops
  • Pest removal
  • Window Installation

Time Commitment for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement jobs can take weeks to complete when you try to do them yourself. For big projects, hiring a professional will mean a quicker and more efficient job done well so you can get back to enjoying your home without interruptions.

  • Large landscaping projects
  • Flooring
  • Demolition

Permission for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement projects require permits due to building codes. Save yourself the headache, and possible code violation, by hiring a professional who’s familiar with the process when it comes to these types of jobs.

  • Additions and remodels
  • Deck or patio addition
  • Major electrical/plumbing work
  • Pool installation and repairs

Safety Risk for DIY Home Projects:

If there’s any question of your ability to do something without injury or structural damage to your home, it’s most definitely a job for a professional.

  • Mold, asbestos, lead removal
  • Tree removal
  • Roof and foundation repairs
  • HVAC system installation and repair

When you’ve decided you need a pro, try to keep the process simple to save you time and headaches. Start by reaching out to a few trusted contractors in your area to get estimates on the work, (recommendations from friends are a great place to start) and then consider price and professionalism before making your decision.

When it comes to HVAC work, we make it easy to find a pro. Along with plumbing and electrical work, HVAC is an area where it’s crucial to get the job done right the first time.

Sources:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/millennials-take-on-diy-projects-with-more-confidence-and-budgeting-discipline-than-previous-generations-300813538.html

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/10-home-projects-you-should-always-hire-a-pro-for/

https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/quick-tips/8-household-projects-to-leave-to-professionals/

https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/diy-home-improvement-projects/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/projects-you-should-not-diy_n_3923456

https://www.hallerent.com/blog/when-to-call-professional-for-home-improvement-repairs/

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OAS

AA Homepage Articles | Wellness |

Foods That Can Trigger Ragweed Allergies Causing OAS

2 minute read

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Are you one of the 23 million Americans who suffer from a ragweed allergy? Ragweed is everywhere in the U.S., especially in eastern and midwestern states. Its season starts late in July and early August and ends in mid-October. This common allergen can feel impossible to escape. While a ragweed-producing plant typically lives for only one season, each plant can release up to 1 billion pollen grains that have the potential to travel great distances on the wind. And being outside on a day with elevated ragweed counts isn’t the only way you might be affected. It can also travel into your home on the foods you eat causing Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).

Foods and Oral Allergy Syndrome

“Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is a form of a contact allergic reaction that occurs upon contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables. The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although in rare cases, the reaction can occur more than an hour later…OAS can occur at any time of the year.”

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

Foods that may cause OAS in a person with a ragweed allergy include:

  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Watermelon
  • Chamomile tea
  • Cucumber and zucchini
  • Honey that contains pollen
  • Sunflower seeds
  • White potato

Eating these foods, especially during allergy season, can result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Itchy throat/tingling sensation
  • Watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swollen lips

How to Avoid OAS

In order to manage your OAS symptoms, it’s important to avoid eating any of these foods raw. Baking, cooking, or microwaving food reduces cross-reactions because the high temperatures break down the proteins that cause OAS.

Peeling foods before eating helps remove the high concentration of proteins found on the skin. And canning your fruits and vegetables or eating canned produce can also limit your reaction.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any adverse reactions when consuming raw fruits and vegetables. They can help you identify your allergies and learn how to avoid them.