Although spring is the season that people often associate with allergies, autumn can be just as brutal. When it comes to maintaining a sufficiently high indoor air quality (IAQ), there are several seasonal challenges that you’re guaranteed to encounter. Fall is the time when dust mite populations exponentially increase and when indoor contaminants are at an all-time high. The good news is that there are seven simple strategies for combating the most common fall related IAQ issues.
1. Upgrade Your HVAC Air Filter
You may need a higher-rated air filter in your HVAC system throughout the months of fall, especially if you live on a property that hasn’t yet been fully landscaped, near open construction, or in an especially windy region. If you typically experience IAQ problems in the fall, consult with an HVAC company to find the highest-rated filter that your home HVAC equipment can accommodate. HVAC filters have a maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of one to 16. Air filters with MERV ratings of one through four can extract dust mites, carpet fibers, standing dust, and even dust from spray paint. However, all other smaller particulates and contaminants will be left floating in the air.
Air filters with MERV ratings between 10 and 12 can effectively collect humidifier dust, auto emissions, and even residual particulates from spray cleaners. If you have someone in the home who lives with COPD, chronic respiratory infections, allergies, or asthma, you may additionally want to consider having a whole-house air purifier installed. With these two changes, you can look forward to cleaner, healthier indoor air all year long.
2. Change How You Clean Your Home
During fall, people start spending more of their time indoors. They also tend to keep all windows and doors closed so that the interior of the building is a closed and virtually airtight system. This strategy helps improve the efficiency of HVAC systems by limiting the loss of conditioned air and blocking off cool drafts. However, it also has the negative effect of keeping airborne toxins trapped inside. Surprisingly, most households have indoor air that’s more contaminated than the air outdoors. If building interiors are too humid during the fall season, this can also be a time of explosive mold and mildew formation. All things considered, IAQs can drop significantly just when people choose to spend more of their time inside of their homes.
When your home is closed, you want to avoid disbursing spray cleaners that introduce additional contaminants into the air. There are several ways to effectively clean all surfaces throughout your home without spraying harmful chemicals. Consider creating your own mixtures of equal parts water and white vinegar, or water that’s mixed with natural essential oils such as lemon, verbena, orange, or even peppermint oil, among others.
3. Take Steps to Prevent Widespread Problems with Dust Mites
Dust mite populations increase in fall. During the autumn months, you should regularly launder all bedding and upholstery coverings in hot water. Consider investing in allergy covers for everyone’s pillows and mattresses as well. If you have carpeted flooring, vacuum your floors regularly using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Pets also tend to shed more in the fall. Try to keep all long-haired, indoor animals well-groomed. Brush dogs and cats regularly to collect stray hairs before they fall out. As tree-shedding occurs outdoors, start having building residents take their shoes off at the front door. This will limit how much dirt, dust, pollen, and other allergens get tracked into the carpeting.
4. Find Healthy Ways to Create the Perfect Ambiance
In addition to having a closed indoor environment and more allergens and contaminants present in the home all-around, many San Antonio residents choose to fire up their wood-burning fireplaces in the fall. Lighting candles throughout the home and burning a few logs are certainly easy and appealing ways to create your ideal indoor ambiance. Unfortunately, however, the byproducts of these activities can linger in the air for a very long time. Wood-burning fireplaces take a tremendous toll on IAQs and don’t generally produce sufficient warmth to make the trade-off in air quality worthwhile. Consider switching to a gas fireplace with natural-looking synthetic logs instead. These units don’t release harmful fumes into the living area, and in addition to looking like real wood-burning fireplaces, many of these units can produce convincing crackling and popping sounds, just like a real wood fire.
5. Tackle Humidity Issues Head-On
Most San Antonio homes are either far too humid in fall or far too dry. You might have excess humidity in your home if you use fall as a time for canning and other forms of food preservation, for cooking steamy pasta dishes, soups, and stews, or for large family gatherings. Too much moisture in the indoor air can impact your IAQ in a variety of ways. Excess humidity greatly increases the likelihood of mold spores and mildew development. It can leave your windows covered in condensation and can wreak havoc on other building materials and elements.
In other homes, fall can be a time of dry hair and skin, cracked lips, and itchy, watery eyes. Increasingly dry outdoor air and increased use of home heating systems both contribute to these problems. Schedule an appointment with a trusted HVAC contractor to find out whether your home needs a humidifier or dehumidifier. Although modern HVAC equipment is designed to provide both temperature and humidity regulation, your fall-time humidity regulation needs may exceed the capabilities of your HVAC equipment.
6. Install a Smart Thermostat
One of the greatest indoor air quality challenges that homes can contend with during autumn comes from the need to use both their heaters and their air conditioners in an alternating fashion. Outside temperatures can fluctuate significantly during fall, especially in the early weeks of the season. Installing a smart thermostat will limit the amount of work that your HVAC system must do to stay on top of these changes. Given that smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled, they can draw data from local weather reports to adjust their own settings accordingly. Having these innovative units put in increases property values and greatly reduces home energy bills. HVAC systems take on less stress and less wear and tear and have a better ability to effectively remove harmful particulates from the indoor air.
7. Have Your HVAC System Professionally Maintained
There are countless benefits to having your HVAC system professionally maintained in the fall. When it comes to protecting your IAQ, these services are more than worthwhile. During a comprehensive inspection and tune-up service, all interior and exterior HVAC components will be inspected, calibrated, and thoroughly cleaned. Trapped dust will be removed from all air registers and grills, and any worn or otherwise under-performing parts will be replaced. This is also a good time to have a higher-rated air filter put in that’s in line with the needs and habits of your entire household. Your HVAC system will work more efficiently, your home energy bills will remain at a moderate, manageable level, and humidity regulation, air purification, and temperature control will all be optimized.
Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating has been proudly serving the greater San Antonio, TX, area since 1990. We offer top-rated air duct cleaning and air duct repair services, as well as indoor air quality services. Whether you need your HVAC system tuned up, or your home primed to face the IAQ challenges of the fall season, we can help. Call us today to schedule an appointment for HVAC or air quality service.