Sunday, June 20, 2010

Allergy and Asthma Checklist

Below is an asthma and allergy checklist to help you fight airborne allergy, asthma & upper respiratory problems. Keeping indoor dirt, dust, pollen's, and other indoor air pollutants out of your home will help you improve your indoor air quality. (IAQ) Many of these allergy solutions below cost little or no money.
1. Remove your shoes before entering your home. Wears slippers or have a pair of indoor shoes that never see the outdoors.
2. Don't use a large whole house or large exhaust fan as they draw unfiltered air into your home. You can easily design system to ventilate your home with clean filtered air. An HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) professional can assist you with such a design and installation.
3. Use your kitchen exhaust hood while using your stove to eliminate cooking smoke or products of combustion. This is especially critical with gas stoves.
4. If you have a large exhaust fan in your kitchen, be sure to have a makeup air system. An HVAC professional can assist you with the design and installation
5. Use of a HEPA or central vacuum system will minimize the amount of small irritating particles that become airborne while vacuuming your home.
6. If you don't have a central vac system, vacuum your home while allergy sufferers aren't home.
7. Circulate the air in your home with your furnace or heat pump while vacuuming. This will move the air through your air filter. This can generally be accomplished by going to your thermostat and operating your system in the “fan on” position. Older systems may not have this feature.
8. Use a whole house a high-efficiency air filtration & UV air purification system to remove and purify the air in your home.
9. Use vertical blinds in place of fabric draperies or horizontal blinds to reduce dust to accumulation on window coverings.
10. Use hardwood and tile floors whenever possible. Carpet traps many allergens and indoor air pollutants.
11. Use a portable air filter in areas that are most commonly occupied by allergy sufferers. Bedrooms areas are highly recommend.
12. Have you air conditioner and furnace maintained annually to keep mold, dirt and other pollutants from accumulating in your system.
13. Be careful when choosing and using household cleaners and solvents. Gases from these products create VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) and are a major source of indoor air pollution.
14. Adding a whole house humidifier will help minimize the discomfort cause by dry air associated with running your heating system in the winter.
15. Remove large numbers of stuffed animals from bedrooms, at the very least be sure they're clean.
16. Wash sheets and pillowcases in hot water weekly. Use pillow & mattress covers to avoid skin flakes and household dust from impacting mattresses.
17. A properly ventilated bathroom minimizes potential mold build up
 Be careful about using disinfectants deodorizers and air cleaners, if you wouldn't drink it you probably shouldn't breathe it.
18. Have the ductwork in your home inspected. Leaky ductwork is a major source of indoor air pollution and wasted energy.
19. Remove or isolate pets that might cause children severe allergy symptoms.
20. Keep pets out of beds and off furniture whenever possible.

Furnace Filters - Merv Ratings

1. Define MERV rating?Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value
2. MERV ratings are a method of determining the efficiency of an air filter used with heating and air conditioning equipment. The efficiency is determined by adding particles of varying sizes (1-12) into a controlled testing environment. The particles are added upstream of the test filter and a laser particle counter samples the air before it enters the filter and after it leaves the filter. The two particle counts are compared to calculate the Particle Size Efficiency of the tested filter. Once this is determined, a MERV Parameters chart is used to determine the MERV rating.
3. MERV ratings range from 1 - 16 and measurements are in microns. Some of the common particles related to MERV ratings are household dust, pet dander, viruses, tobacco smoke, mold spores, bacteria and pollen.
4. The most common filters found in homes today have a MERV rating of 1 to 4. Typically these are disposable fiberglass filters purchased from a big box store and do not do a good job of air filtration because they don’t stop particles smaller than 10 microns. Improper air filtration can lead to air conditioner and/or furnace problems as well as poor indoor air quality.
5. Merv 5 to 8 rated filters are a better choice. These filters will not only keep your equipment running clean and efficient when properly maintained, they also do a better job of filtering smaller dust particles (as small as 3 microns) that trigger symptoms with allergy sufferers. Filter replacement it is recommended a minimum of one time per season depending on usage. If your air filter becomes clogged up with dirt and other indoor pollutants they will decrease the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system leading to wasted energy and may cause damage or premature breakdown to your heating and air conditioning equipment.
6. Filters with a MERV rating of 9 to 12 are considered high-efficiency filters and capture particulate in the 1 to 3 micron range. These filters are a great choice for home owners who want the best air filtration at an affordable price. Much like the higher rated MERV 5-8 filters, these filters should also be replaced at regular intervals to avoid wasted energy, premature repairs or breakdown to your heating and air conditioning equipment.
7. The most efficient filters have MERV ratings of 13 to 16 (HEPA air filter) and will stop particles as small as .3 microns. These filters are hospital grade and have been adapted for use in residential applications. Super high efficiency air filters should be installed by a professional heating and air conditioning contractor. Improper installations could lead to severe damage to your furnace or air conditioner.
8. Some of the benefits of using a high-efficiency air filter are energy savings, allergy and asthma relief (in many cases), longer equipment life, cleaner home, less need for repainting and furniture cleaning.