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Top 4 Allergens in Your Home and How to Get Them Out

Child struggling with allergies

More than 50 million people in the U.S. currently suffer from allergies. If you find yourself a victim to allergies you know spring is one of the hardest times of the year. The team at Getzschman Heating and Air Conditioning wants to help. We may be a heating and cooling company, but we also want to help you with your allergies,.

Are You Always Sick?

One way to prevent this sickness is by improving the air quality within your home. If you have health problems that improve when you leave your house and worsen when you return, this is a big clue. At least one third of your life is spent within your home (mostly when you are sleeping) so it may be time to take preventative steps towards improving your air quality indoors.

Everyday Irritants in Your Home’s Air

Everyone is familiar with air quality problems like asbestos, second-hand smoke, and radon. These issues are all dangerous, but they are not the only or the most common air pollutants. If you’re looking for everyday air quality issues, look for the following:

1. Bacteria and Viruses

Not all germs make you sick. However, there are various kinds of bacteria and viruses that will give you the flu or a cold and they can worsen other problems like asthma. If you or a family member continues to get sick, you may have an issue with too many germs in your air.

Additionally, many germs thrive in warm humidity. One way to prevent this is to make sure your home is well ventilated and the humidity is not over 50 percent. Buying a dehumidifier can help with the high levels of humidity.

2. Dust Mites

Microscopic bugs, known as dust mites, feed on dead human skin cells often found in dust. These dust mites aren’t dangerous but can trigger a reaction for those with asthma or allergies. This reaction may cause someone to get a cough, sneeze constantly, become congested, or have a severe asthma attack.

Reducing your home’s humidity level to below 50 percent can help get rid of dust mites. The best treatment is to get rid of places they can live, like upholstered furniture, curtains, and carpets. Additionally, brushing your bedding once a week with a damp cloth and hot water will help as well.

3. Mold

As mentioned above, extra humidity will spread germs and contribute to an increase in dust mites. But its most common effect is mold growth. Mold spores can cause nasal congestion, wheezing, coughing, sneezing, and sore throats. Just like dust mites, those with asthma or allergies may have particularly nasty reactions to mold.

Mold tends to grow in places with extra water, like your bathroom. You might also smell a musty odor. In order to eliminate mold, you need to eliminate the excess water, which sometimes is caused by leaky pipes and poorly ventilated bathrooms. Again, keep the humidity level in your home below 50 percent.

Fix any leaks in your home or in your plumbing, run an exhaust fan in your bathroom, and increase airflow and ventilation. Clean the places where you see mold growing often.

4. Building Materials

New or recently remodeled homes may have materials that emit fumes. For example, building materials made of pressed wood, like plywood, can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. VOCs in your home’s air can irritate eyes, noses, and throats. You can even feel nauseous and have trouble breathing. Some VOCs, such as formaldehyde, can cause cancer.

VOCs can also be found in products like paint, paint remover, cleaning chemicals, glue and air fresheners. When purchasing these products, try to find the lowest VOC levels. Then get rid of the unused materials after your project is done.

Ventilation will also improve the air quality indoors. Allow proper time for materials like plywood to air out before using them. Once you bring the materials into your home, open a window and turn on a fan.

3 Solutions for Ridding Your Home of Allergens

At Getzschman Heating and Air Conditioning, we offer several ways to help rid your home of allergens:

1. Duct Cleaning

One ounce of dust contains nearly 42,000 living dust mites. Consider that up to 40 pounds of dust gets into your home every year, and up to 15 pounds of that can get trapped in your duct system. Get rid of that dust as well as pollen, fungi, and bacteria with our duct cleaning service.

Related Read: 7 Houseplants That Can Help You Breathe Easier

2. Air Scrubbers Remove Particles from the Air in Your Home

Once the dust and allergens are out of your home, you’ll want a way to keep them out. For this, we recommend the Air Scrubber Plus air cleaner. There are three classes of indoor air pollutants:  particles, mold-mildew-bacteria, and odors/chemical vapors.

Our Air Scrubber Plus system uses positively and negatively charged ions to make the particles attracted to each other. This attraction makes the particles clump together so they can be trapped by your air filter.

Related Read: 3 Reasons to Install an Air Cleaner in Your Home

3. UV Germicidal Lamps

Mold, mildew, and other biological contaminants can settle on surfaces inside your HVAC system and circulate through your home’s air. UV germicidal lamps emit rays of ultraviolet light that penetrate the cell walls of these contaminants and kill them. They work continuously even when your heating or cooling system isn’t on. Just one less thing to bother your allergies.

Timely Tips for Allergy Sufferers

Keep the House Closed Up Tight – Don’t be tempted to open the windows on a nice day. This will let more than just fresh air into your home.

Shower at Night – Your hair harbors all kinds of allergens. Showering at night will not transfer this to your pillow to breathe all night long. Go to bed with clean hair to ensure you don’t exacerbate your allergy symptoms.

Change Your Filter on Your AC Often – Keep the air as clean as possible by replacing your air filter at least once a month.

Go Barefoot at Home – Don’t drag in all of the allergens on your shoes. They will embed themselves into rugs and carpeting. Remove your shoes when you get home.

Use the Re-Circulate on Your Vehicle’s AC – By recirculating the air in your vehicle instead of letting new air in, you will decrease the amount of allergens you are exposed to. And definitely keep the windows rolled up and the air conditioner on.

Lower the Humidity in Your House – Mold loves humidity. If you lower the humidity level to less than 60%, it will discourage mold growth.

Pay Attention to the Allergy Reports – If the pollen, ragweed, mold, etc. count is high, it’s best to limit your outdoor activities that day if possible.

If you suspect the air in your home is causing problems, give the indoor air quality team at Getzschman call and we can let you know all of your options for cleaner air. Call us at (402) 554-1110 or contact us online.

9 Little-Known Tips to Reduce Your Winter Energy Bills

Reduce Winter Energy BillsSure you set your programmable thermostat down when you’re away, shut off registers in unused rooms, and change your furnace filter monthly, but there are some less obvious energy saving actions that the average homeowner doesn’t know about. Since the winters here in the Omaha area can get pretty brutal, the team at Getzschman Heating and Cooling wanted to share these less-than-obvious tips to help lower your energy bills as much as possible. See which ones you didn’t know about.

  1. Lock Doors and Windows –  Everyone knows to insulate around your doors and windows because they are one of the worst offenders when it comes to air leaks. But what most people don’t know is to make sure those windows and doors are also locked. Even when doors and windows are closed, they might not be pressed tight against the weatherstripping. Locking them ensures that the seal is as tight as possible so warm air cannot escape.  

  2. Check Your Door’s Threshold – Simply adding caulk or weather stripping to doors is good, but check underneath your door. If you can see any light from outside, you may need to adjust your door’s threshold. Most thresholds have screws that can be adjusted. Turn the screws counterclockwise to bring the threshold up. Adjust it until it’s snug, but If the door drags on the threshold, you may need to lower it just a bit so you don’t wear out the weather strip on the bottom.

  3. Don’t Run Exhaust Fans Any Longer Than Necessary –  If you run kitchen or bathroom fans, make sure to turn them off as soon as possible. Not only do they remove steam and odors, they take the heat with it.

  4. Don’t Waste Heat That You Created – Take advantage of any residual heat you create inside the house from everyday activities like cooking or showering. Don’t keep heat trapped inside the appliance or the room. Open the doors and let that extra heat (and moisture) spread throughout the rest of your house.

  5. Outlets Let Air Out – Most homeowners never think about their electrical outlets and switches on the walls. Almost all of these have small gaps around them that allow air to escape. Filling those gaps with caulk or expandable foam sealant will keep the air inside. You can also purchase foam gaskets over the outlet or switch before you replace the cover to further insulate it. Those outlets and switches will be there forever and this small improvement will help save energy year round.

  6. Pipes, Gas, and Electrical Lines – Just like electrical outlets, areas on exterior walls where plumbing pipes, gas pipes or electrical lines enter your home also have gaps around them where warm air escapes. Use expanding foam to fill these holes. Bonus: This will keep mice and bugs out too!

  7. Seal and Insulate the Attic Door – This is one place that is often overlooked even if the attic has been professionally insulated. Warm air rises and will easily escape into the attic through an attic door that is not insulated. Check your door and make sure it forms a good seal when it is closed and add weather stripping if it doesn’t. Attach fiberglass insulation to the back of the door to close this large thermal gap.

  8. Seal Your Ductwork – Have you ever walked your ducts to see if there are leaks, holes or poor connections? Most homeowners haven’t. A typical home can lose 20 – 30% of the air in the system to these leaks when heated air escapes into unheated areas like the basement. Seal any leaks with metal tape. (Don’t use duct tape as, despite its name, it is not the best tape for this job.)

  9. Consider a Furnace Tune-Up – A tune-up is a great idea. Not only will it protect your family from carbon monoxide leaks, but it will ensure your furnace is running at peak efficiency saving you money on heating bills.

We hope some of these tips help you save the maximum amount on your winter energy bills and your summer cooling bills as well. If you would like to schedule a furnace tune-up, just give us a call at (402) 554-1110 or contact us online on our home page. Look for money-saving service coupons on our website.