Clearing the Air: Let

Clearing the Air: Let’s talk HVAC

My central heating and air conditioning system recently kicked the bucket, as expected. It had been on its last legs for a year or so now. A local contractor got me a quote for replacement. A signed bid, a big check, and half a day of work by HVAC technicians later, I again have a pleasantly chilled house. I was fortunate that my air conditioner didn’t go out completely. While it needed replacement and was not particularly efficient it did still blow cool enough to keep my home from getting dangerously hot. The day of the replacement I planned a pretty low key day. I did my best to hydrate and planned to avoid strenuous activities as I would have to deal with whatever air pollutants were outside. I opened my windows, put a box fan in and hoped for the best.

Due to space constraints there were a limited selection of units I could choose for my home. Were my utility closet larger I would have had the option to select a unit with built in air purification or different air filtration options. On my old system I used air filters that were designed to trap allergens. The system required a less common filter size so I ordered them in bulk online. I am still not super on top of changing the filter exactly every 90 days on the dot. I do set the reminder in the thermostat to help me remember. I also learned that I am more likely to change the filter when I have a box of them sitting in the spare room.

My new air conditioner requires an air filter size that seems to be stocked by significantly more stores. For the convenience, I’m still going to order my filters online in bulk. Until the new box of filters arrive I am using the filter that came with the unit. It is not designed to trap allergens or other small particles. I have noticed significantly more allergy symptoms while I wait for the box of filters to arrive.

I’m sneezing, coughing, and have the usual gunk I get around my eyes in peak allergy season. It has become clear to me that having a good filter on my central heating or cooling is beneficial for me. Researchers lack evidence to back my personal observation. When researchers compared adding dust mite filtering air cleaners to a placebo filter no significant effect was found.1 They found that these high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) filters without additional avoidance measures did not reduce symptoms.1 However, the houses studied did not have high enough levels of dust mites to provoke an asthma attack. Given this evidence I don’t think I’ll be adding a separate air filtration device into my house. However, assuming my symptoms improve when the allergy filters for the heating and cooling system get here I will continue with those. Who knows the increased symptoms I’m experiencing could be completely unrelated to the filter on the heating/cooling system. I try my best to minimize the dust mites an other triggers in my home. Do you notice symptom improvement with air filtration?

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