Air filters are an essential, but often overlooked part of your HVAC system. Air filters don't only filter out dust and pollen that would end up circulating throughout your home, lowering your indoor air quality, but they also keep bigger objects like loose insulation from being drawn into your HVAC system which could present a fire risk or cause damage.

This is why along with duct cleaning and having an air conditioner cleaner come in, you should also either change your air filters yourself or ask the professionals to do it.

Why is Changing your Air Filter Important?

On top of a professional air duct cleaning, if you forget to change your air filters on a regular basis, it could work against you.  Not changing your air filters can cause:

1. A Failed HVAC System 

The leading cause of a failed HVAC system is clogged air filters. Clogged air filters can cause unwanted, extensive damage to your unit. By keeping up with the condition of your air filters, you can prevent unwanted damage and help ensure your system's longevity.

2. Harm to the Environment

In addition to vent cleaning furnace services, you should also have your air filters changed to help the environment. Not cleaning and replacing your air filters regularly is basically failing the environment. A clogged air filter makes your HVAC system work harder and this can translate to bigger amounts of greenhouse gasses and carbon monoxide being released. Changing your air filters on a regular basis could make a big difference for the environment and should be part of your eco-friendly living.

3. Unexpected Furnace Shutdowns

During a furnace cleaning, you should also have the experts check the airflow. Similar to your air conditioning unit, your furnace also has a certain airflow requirement. The fan motor of your furnace can't draw in enough air if the filter is dirty and this can cause the components of your furnace to overheat.

Once they reach a certain high temperature, the safety shut-off switch on your furnace will activate, shutting down your furnace. By replacing the filter, once the components are cool enough, the automatic reset will turn your system back on. If you fail to change the filter, you could risk having the motor burn out completely.

4. Poor Indoor Air Quality

Not only does exhaust cleaning and air vent cleaning protect indoor air quality, so does having a clean air filter. Air filters help protect your HVAC system and remove unwanted irritants from the air, such as:

  • Mold spores
  • Pest debris
  • Pollen
  • Other contaminants

By not changing the air filters, the longer your system runs and the dirty filter releases these contaminants into your home's air, the increasingly dirty your indoor air will become.

5. Harm to Your Health

Just like avoiding a chimney cleaning, not changing your air filters can harm your health.  As mentioned, dirty air filters allow dander, dust and mold to circulate throughout your home. And, this subjects your entire family to breathing them in, potentially leading to allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems or make existing ones worse. Cleaning your air filter will help trap these contaminants, allowing your family to breathe more freely.

These are only some of the many reasons why it's important to change your air filters on a regular basis. By doing so, you clean your indoor air quality, protect your health and avoid costly damage to your HVAC system. Therefore, along with things like changing duct kitchen cleaning and remembering to clean out dryer vent, keep in mind you also have air filters to keep clean as well for a healthier home.

Book Your Air Duct Cleaning or Dryer Vent Cleaning With Breathewell Today

To learn more about how to change your air filter, or to set an appointment for air duct cleaning or dryer vent cleaning, contact Breathewell. Or for a free quote, click here. We’re always happy to help our Montreal, Canada and surrounding area neighbors meet their home comfort goals! Our phone number is 514-222-0320.

Cold wind, low temperatures and shorter days: it’s official – winter is coming. And with winter also come the scary-looking heating bills. But don’t worry – here are some energy-saving strategies, which will keep your home warm and cozy, without involving a lot of additional cost.

Applying window film

Well, this initial investment will actually cost you some money, but it’ll definitely be worth it. You can purchase the film from any home improvement store and have it installed over your windows. The mechanism is simple: the film reflects the heat coming from the sun in the summer, keeping your home cool. During the winter, it will reduce the heat loss by up to 40% and, subsequently, will cut your heating bills during the cold season.

You can even spare some additional money if you decide to apply it yourself. Professional service usually costs around $60-$90 per window. The material itself isn’t cheap, as well, but it’s a long-term investment that will prove incredibly useful during the whole year.

Take out the winter clothing

You’d think that’s an obvious one, but actually many people prefer turning the heat up instead of putting several layers of clothing. Invest in a nice pair of socks and a cozy winter sweater. You can also throw a blanket over your couch or cover the floor with a thick rug to insulate it.

Adjust the door thresholds

Check if there is a little space under your front door. If you can see the light coming from under it, then you’re definitely losing part of the heat you’re paying for. Experts advise on adjusting the door so it will be in contact with the threshold – this can significantly reduce your heating bills!

Keep the  warm air from escaping through the chimney

Chimneys are a great way to create a cozy atmosphere in your home. However, one of the downsides of owning a chimney is that the warm air can actually escape through it, when the chimney is not in use. The best solution is to simply block the airflow with an inflatable chimney balloon – you can get one from amazon for around $50. A chimney balloon can save you up to $100 per year.

Insulate the attic door

Even if your attic is properly insulated, the door, leading to it, might not be. Warm air can, therefore, easily escape through it. To ensure the proper insulation of your attic door, you can use adhesive to attach fiberglass batt insulation to the attic side of the door.

Use a programmable thermostat

The perk of having a thermostat is that you can program the temperature during certain times of the day. For example, you can program it to keep a low temperature during the day, when there’s nobody home or at night, when everyone’s asleep. It’s a good idea to program the temperature to go up in the morning, when you’re preparing for work or taking a shower, and again in the evening, when you’re coming home from work. You can do that with a traditional thermostat, but the chances are you’re going to forget to do it every single day. With a programmable thermostat, you don’t need to think about it – the appliance will do it for you!

Seal air leaks in the heating ducts

The heating ducts are part of any forced-air heating and cooling system. They’re responsible for distributing the conditioned air throughout the house. However, a significant percent of the heat (around 20-30%) is actually lost, due to air leaks, holes or poorly connected ducts. This means that the temperature will stay constantly low, regardless of how much you turn the thermostat up.

You can deal with that problem by sealing the air leaks or the holes in your heating ducts. You can do it by yourself or you can have a professional seal it for you. You can use mastic sealant or metal tape to insulate the air leaks – just don’t use duct tape, because it’s not very long-lasting. You also need to make sure that the connections at vents are properly sealed. This would save you money and will make your home warmer and cozier without costing you a fortune!

 

Image by brian.ch

Lint. The single most annoying factor affecting laundry day. Materials used for woolen sweaters and towels shed when run through your washing machine resulting in a lovely spread of tiny pieces of their fabric to all of your other clothes.  Cleaning your other clothes of the fabric shed from a sweatshirt can be an incredibly frustrating task, one we’re willing to be you’d rather avoid. So what can you do to minimise the effects of shedding on laundry day?

The first action you should be taking is the proper maintenance of your lint trap on your machines. Your machine should have a lint trap equipped as standard and you need to be certain that you’re cleaning out your lint trap every single time your machine is used. If you’re not, then the lint won’t get, well… trapped and will be free to stick to any other pieces of your clothing. An unclean lint trap can also decrease the effectiveness of your machine, poses a fire hazard and can drastically shorten the appliance lifespan.

Before your clothes get to the dryer you’ve got to wash them. You probably already separate your colours from your whites, but leave items with high lint quantities with the rest of your wash. This single item is going to cover the rest of your clothes in lint and have you looking like a bargain store cookie monster outfit.

If you have a towel that is prone to shedding, put it through the machine on its own. It’s still going to shed, but those little bits of fabric won’t have the opportunity to stick to every other garment you own.

We know that washing a lot of items individually is going to do no favours to your bills or the environment. Don’t worry, there are still measures you can take if you prefer to pile everything in the washer together. When running your laundry through the dryer, be sure to include a dryer sheet. Dryer sheets basically reduce the build up of static in your dryer resulting in woolly jumpers that don’t stick together and lint that doesn’t stick to everything. They can also act as fabric softeners and add extra scent as well, so it’s a win-win all around! If you’ve got a really heavy wash, you might want to pop two sheets in.

One of the simplest steps you can take in reducing the lint build-up is to simply turn the offending item inside out. This obviously isn’t going to work for towels but with certain sweatshirts, this can work to help contain the spread of lint.

Powdery Residue

There’s the potential for you to see a powder-like buildup on some of your clothes. Many simply see small specs on their clothes after they’ve come out of the wash and immediately assume that it’s a lint buildup. Fortunately, in the case of the white powder, this isn’t the case. It’s something else that has an extremely quick and easy fix. More often than not, this white powdery build-up is caused by using too much detergent. Cut down on your detergent and you eliminate the problem.

We hope these tips have been useful in helping you with washing your fabrics of high lint quantities. We’d love to hear if you have any secret remedies for lint reduction. If there’s something you’d like to add to the article get in touch with the comments below.

Image - Amy

They say that cleanliness is next to godliness, but is having the cleanest home on the block really the best way to keep your family healthy? Studies are increasingly indicating that an overly clean home could actually be placing your children at a higher risk of developing illnesses later in life. In being too clean and destroying all bacteria in your home you’re creating two potential risks for your children, one of which can also affect family members of any age.

Immunity

As a society we’ve been programmed to think that having an excessively clean home is the only way to be safe. Children are discouraged from becoming too dirty when playing outside, cleaning products tout their ability to kill 99.9% of bacteria and the companies that produce said cleaning products run marketing campaigns that are seemingly aimed to instill fear in the general populace.

Whilst there are bacteria in your home that can cause serious illness, they are thankfully few in number. In removing all bacteria you could be depriving your child’s immune system the opportunity of fully developing. Small amounts of bacteria are a necessity for our bodies to develop adequate responses, if these responses are not developed, illnesses that should be dealt with by our immune systems could prove too difficult to contain. This theory of introducing small amounts of an illness is a traditional concept and forms the basis of immunisation treatments, it also applies to household allergens and the development of respiratory difficulties.

Since the 1960s there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of children who suffer from atopic diseases such as asthma and hay fever. There hasn’t yet been a study which fully confirms this hypothesis, however, there are some really striking results which seem to back up the theory.

It’s a difficult balance to strike, clean too much and you could be setting your child up for respiratory issues later in life, don’t clean enough and you run the risk of an infection,  illness or irritation now. It seems to us that the best approach is to take steps to clean your home but not to do so too often. A thorough clean once a week should remove any harmful allergens or bacteria whilst leaving time for an acceptable build-up to bolster your immune system.

Cleaning Products

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, go easy on the cleaning products in your home. You may be tempted to use bleach on every worktop surface, polish on your wooden furniture and air freshening sprays to cover any bad odours but this could well be making an allergy worse. Not only are you potentially eradicating bacteria and allergens needed to develop immunities, but you’re actually adding extra allergens into the environment.

When someone has cleaned a room with bleach the smell of chlorine is immediately noticeable, the same goes for many other powerful cleaning agents. If you can smell it, it has the potential to exacerbate the respiratory issues of any allergy sufferer who comes into contact with it. What’s often intended as a gesture of good hygiene and health often leads to turning the safe haven of your home into a very uncomfortable area for an allergy sufferer.

If there’s an area that you have to clean, consider whether you really need to use cleaning products. If you simple can’t do without them, look into using unscented products. Ideally you’d try to cut out as many products as you can, whilst this may not be feasible for areas such as the bathroom or kitchen, general dusting could quite easily be completed with a damp cloth.

In cutting down on the products you should be able to keep a few of the less harmful allergens and bacteria around for healthy development and also not aggravate any existing allergy issues.

We’d be interested to know if there’s been an increase in allergies or minor illnesses in your family throughout the generations. Do you think it comes down to the improved standard of living or is it perhaps due to some other factor?

Image - go_greener_oz

With the various benefits to your health that having cleaner air in your home can bring, it’s a mystery why the majority of people are happy to neglect cheap and easy clean air practices. We’re not talking about getting a trained professional out every month to give your home the full work over, no, we mean the actions you can take to minimize the need for calling out the pros. Today we’re going to quickly go over the main problems a poorly functioning ventilation system can cause within your home and how one component, when properly maintained, can make all the difference.

One of the biggest offenders of a poorly functioning ventilation system is an old and tired air filter. The air filter of your system is a key component in providing clean air and whilst it can become dirty relatively quickly it’s thankfully easy and cheap to replace. If you’re not changing your air filter on time you may soon regret it, there are plenty of problems that can come up when you neglect this basic maintenance steps.

Maintenance

Home ventilation systems aren’t cheap and paying to get a trained professional out for a service can end up being quite costly. Any homeowner understandably wants to keep maintenance costs down to a minimum. Unfortunately, this frugal approach often manifests itself by causing a homeowner to shy away from small maintenance problems, problems which when left can cause much larger and expensive repair jobs. Sometimes, you have to spend a little today to save a lot in the long run, staying on top of all the small maintenance issues when they come up will serve you well later on.

An air filter becoming tired and dirty is a prime example of a small issue gradually growing into a costly expense. By neglecting the replacement of your air filter you’re increasing the stress on your system which ultimately effects its efficiency.

The extra stress you’re putting on your machine will cause two main issues, both of which are going to will cost you money.

The machine will still attempt to operate at peak efficiency, something that’s far more difficult when all the components aren’t pulling their weight. In an effort to still perform, certain components will over compensate causing them to quickly wear out. When a major part no longer works you’re going to have to call out the professionals, a call which will cost you not only the fee for the part that caused the issue, but also that of the now worn out component plus labour fees. To top it off, you’re also reducing the lifespan of the system by not performing regular maintenance, meaning you’re going to have to dip into your savings to buy that replacement machine far earlier than you intended.

When your system isn’t working efficiently it’s power consumption is going to increase. This isn’t going to make itself immediately noticeable, in fact, the first time you’ll probably be aware is when you receive your next, substantially higher electricity bill.

The short version of all of this is to change your air filter when it needs it. If you don’t you’re going to pay for extra professional servicing than is necessary as well as higher electricity bills for a machine that lasts half the time of a well maintained system.

Air Quality

When the primary function of an appliance has been compromised, what would you usually do? If there’s a light bulb that’s no longer lighting up a room, you’d change it.When there’s an air filter that no longer supplies clean, filtered air, do you replace it?

You may still think that even a dirty air filter is doing a good job of providing clean air. Throughout the life of the air filter it will be filtering all the pollutants that you don’t want to circulate within your house. These pollutants aren’t disposed of but are held within the air filter. Once the air filter has reached a certain saturation of pollutants it can no longer filter the air, it will in fact be pumping even lower quality air into your home. The air that passes through a dirty air filter won’t have any pollutants removed but will actually pick up extra dirt before being fed through the vents and into your home. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t get into a bath full of dirty water to get clean would you.

In neglecting the regular maintenance and replacement of air filters you’re placing yourself and your family at a much higher risk of developing various illnesses. You may think that it’s only those who have a pre-existing allergy who are going to suffer from poor indoor air quality. Whilst it’s true that allergy sufferers are at a higher risk, it doesn’t mean that the allergy free among us won’t experience any symptoms. The American Lung Association states that poor indoor air quality “can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue.”

If the non allergy sufferers can develop minor allergies and illnesses from poor air quality what happens to those who already have a pre-existing allergy? Unfortunately there is the potential for those who are sensitive to any allergen to develop a more serious illness, in particular asthma. Whilst there’s still no solid understanding of the causes of asthma, studies have managed to understand a few of the sources. This article on the causes of asthma has three subheadings which focus on the illness developing from another allergy and another cause related to poor indoor air quality. Out of 10 subheadings explaining the causes of asthma, four of them are related to poor air quality.

These health risks shouldn’t be ignored. Anyone who suffers from an allergy can attest to the difficulties, discomfort and limitations it can apply to your life. The EPA estimates that we spend an average of 90% of our time indoors, and we’re willing to bet that the majority of that time will be spent at home. There’s also research that shows the level of indoor pollutants can be two to five times higher than when outdoors, sometimes reaching even higher than 100 times higher. It might not seem like a big deal, but having a good quality clean air filter can make a huge difference to your home life.

As you can see there are plenty of risks that can be easily avoided with the simple changing of your ventilation system’s air filter. It is going to cost you a small fee to buy replacement air filters but it’s going to be worth it. It’s a small price to pay, especially considering the benefits. An effective machine is going to cost substantially less in the long run not to mention the continued good health of your family. If these are the benefits of replacing your air filter once every three months, you’re definitely getting a good deal.

Image - darkday

We’ve recently touched on why it’s so important to regularly replace your home air filter in your ventilation system. However, knowing when and how to change your filter is only part of the battle. To get the most out of your system you need to choose the right air filter for your needs.

Choosing the right air filter can be a little confusing. If you consider the numerous filtration criteria and your individual needs it can be quite easy to purchase a filter not suited to your home environment. We’ve put together this little guide on why choosing the right filter is important and included a little guide to help you choose which filter will get the best results in your home.

Why Choosing the Right Filter is Important

Most people with a home ventilation system aren’t aware of the various home air filters available, simply choosing the first filter they come across that fits their system or buying the same filter each time as a habit. In choosing the wrong kind of filter you’re leaving yourself susceptible to higher rates of pollutants within the home, effectively wasting your money on a product which isn’t doing what you need it to.

If there’s a member of your family who suffers from any respiratory issue or allergy choosing the right air filter should be a top priority for you. If we dumb down the science behind air filters we can liken them to a sieve as it allows air to pass through whilst blocking the path of the undesirable pollutants of dust, dirt and allergens. Different air filters can be likened to sieve with larger or smaller hols for air to pass through. The larger the holes, the more pollutants will make it into the general air’s circulation.

Not all filters are created equal. There is unfortunately no single filter that will remove all of the allergens within your home. That being said, there are differing levels of home air filter ranging from the basic residential filters which remove large particles to the very complex and expensive, the type often used in hospitals.

It goes without saying that the chances of a residential property needing a medical grade filter are slim at best. Sure, you could go out and get one to ensure that your home air quality is as high as possible, but are a more basic filter will do everything you need it to and at a far cheaper price.

How to Choose The Right Air Filter

You only need to focus on the pollutants and allergens that will be in your home. If you’re not sure how to figure out what allergens may be in your home think about any potential allergen sources. Are you near to a busy intersection? Do you own any pets? etc. Bear in mind that if there is an allergy or asthma sufferer in the house it’s recommended to take one step up in terms of which filter you need to be on the safe side.

When you’ve got a short list of the potential allergens in your home it’s time to pick out the filter that will best combat the sources. We’ve put together a little infographic below to help you understand exactly which air filter is the best for you. Cross reference the below with the allergens that will be prevalent in your home and you should be able to easily pick which one is best for you.

When the time for you to purchase a new home air filter comes around, be sure you’re buying the right one. Use the guide we’ve created, check which allergens you need filtered and buy the filter that will eradicate all of the allergens you need removing.

Buy smart to save yourself money whilst also reducing any chance of causing yourself an unecessary reaction.

Hopefully this guide has been helpful to you. If you have any questions regarding choosing the right filter don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or get in touch with us.

Image - Dmitry G

Have you ever had a cold that you just can’t seem to get rid of? The runny nose, watery eyes and frequent headaches can be a real pain and when experience in the colder months of the year these symptoms are all too often attributed to a simple case of the common cold. But what if it wasn’t a cold? What if it was actually a form of hay fever and diagnosing it as a cold is topping you from adequate treatment?

A common misconception is that hay fever can only strike in the spring and summer months. Hay fever is actually just the common name for something called Allergic Rhinitis. However, unlike hay fever, allergic rhinitis can be brought on at any time of year. As long as there are allergens you’re sensitive to in the air, you could experience hay fever like symptoms.

Throughout the year the type of allergens will change. To accurately diagnose and treat the problem, you need to be aware of the various allergens and when they’re most prevalent. If you suffer from hay fever-esque symptoms in autumn or winter, you may be having an allergic reaction and not just have the sniffles. Below we’ve listed the various types of allergens and when they’re most likely to cause you a problem. If you have hay fever like symptoms at strange times of the year, have a look to see if there are any of the below allergens in your local environment and figure out if you need cold medicine or an allergy treatment.

Winter

Most people are prone to thinking that winter is the safest season for those who suffer from allergies, but the truth is no month is completely allergen free.

As the months get colder we tend to spend more of our time indoors. During the winter months you’ll find that a lot of the allergens that cause a reaction come from your own home. A clean home should help battle the problem, in particular your problems are going to come from dust mites, dust, mould spores and pet dander. Tree pollen can also spike in the later months of winter which can also cause an allergic reaction.

Spring

As the warmer months arrive there’s going to be an increase of the tree pollen that began in late winter. We’re not quite into the flower pollen season yet, but as the April showers roll in there will be an increase in outdoor mould and fungus. The spores from these can cause irritation in the nasal passages, making this the official start to the outdoor allergens associated with hay fever.

Summer

Summer is the worst month for an allergy sufferer. You’ve got to deal with the full spectrum of allergens. All of the indoor allergens you have to deal with in winter will still be around not to mention the mould, fungus, tree, grass and weed pollen. Most people will suffer during the summer months as there are far more allergens around. If you;’re allergic to more than one they can have a compounding effect making the summer months a very difficult time indeed.

Autumn

Autumn sees the number of allergens that can affect you diminish. As the flowers close for the year and trees lose their leaves, you’re able to strike the two biggest offenders off your list. You will however still have to deal with weed pollen and outdoor mould and fungus. These tend not to be as prevalent as grass or tree pollen meaning there should be far fewer affected people.

Allergies can flare up at any time of year. Whilst the symptoms for allergic rhinitis are relatively uniform, the causes are anything but. If you’re suffering from allergy type symptoms outside of the hay fever months, don’t automatically assume it’s a cold. You may well be suffering from an allergic reaction, identify the problem through understanding it’s cause to be better prepared in mitigating it’s effects.

Learn about Allergies for a full list of the years worst offending allergen releasing plants.

Images - Brooke Novak, nasacort.com

We’ve become increasingly reliant on the latest gadgets to make our lives easier and more comfortable. Unfortunately, as far as technology has developed it’s far from perfect and you’re favoured appliances can become faulty and cause more issues than they solve. When the problem arises in an appliance you rely on daily, it can become a real pain. If you have a heating and cooling system, a fault could result in a very uncomfortable home environment. Fortunately, the majority of the problems are easy fixes. Here’s a list of 5 common issues with a heating and cooling systems and the best ways to get them working at peak efficiency

Leaks

Generally speaking a unit could be leaking due to one of two reasons. The first could be a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks can be problematic, not only is the refrigerant harmful to the environment but it will also reduce the efficiency of the unit. Simply refilling the reservoir isn’t enough, there’s a reason it’s leaking and you’ll need to fix the source to rectify the problem. If it’s not a refrigeration leak it’s likely a drainage pipe blockage. These are relatively easy to fix, either use a coat hanger to clear any blockages in the drainpipe or try to force the blockage with a short burst of water from a hose. If it’s still blocked, it’s time to call in the pros.

Not Turning On

We’ve all been there. You try to use an appliance and it simply won’t turn on. The first things to check are the main circuit breaker and the fuse for the unit. If these are both in order it may be an issue with the thermostat. Most units will take the temperature of the room so that they can change their output to match your temperature preference. If the room is cooler than your thermostat settings and your unit is set to cool, it’s not going to turn on.

Poor Air Flow

Inadequate air flow usually stems from dirty filters or ducts. If there is a blockage in a duct or if the filters are dirty, the air flow is going to be obstructed resulting in an ineffectual unit which increases your electricity bills. Be sure to check and clean all filters regularly as well as visually inspecting all ductwork to ensure that there are no connection problems, damage or obstructions.

Overly Frequent or Continuous Cycles

Overly frequent and continuous cycles are often caused by having the wrong sized unit for your home. Frequent cycles are caused by a unit which is too large for your house. A oversized unit will reach its target temperature very quickly, once the temperature has been reached the cycle will end. There’s also the chance of over heating/cooling meaning the unit will then have to switch jobs to rectify the issue.

Continuous cycles are often caused by a unit too small for your home. If the unit isn’t large enough it will never be able to achieve the target temperature. A small unit will work too hard and too long in an effort to reach an impossible target.

Thermostat Sensor Issues

The thermostat sensor is the unofficial centre for your unit. It’s this little piece of kit that tells your unit whether it should be heating or cooling and to what degree. If the sensor is poorly located it can give false readings. A faulty sensor or one too close to an air outlet will give false reports causing the unit to cycle ineffectively effecting the temperature of the room. Be sure to choose its placement wisely and to also check for any issues.

A heating and cooling system is a great bit of equipment which can make your home a much more comfortable environment year round. Be sure to regularly check all components with quarterly inspections. If there’s a problem which you’re not qualified to fix, make sure to call in the professionals. A quick fix is a lot cheaper than a replacement unit!

Image - Geoffrey Fairchild

Hay fever affects just short of 10% of the population in North America. You may think that a hay fever suffer is safe outside the high pollen counts of the summer months, however hay fever isn’t known for giving up and can cause problems in both autumn and spring as well.

With hay fever affecting nearly one in ten of us it pays to be aware of the causes, who is susceptible and how best to prevent or combat any and all reactions. We’ve put together this handy yet brief look at a very prevalent allergy so you’ve got the knowledge to best deal with the problem.

What is Hay Fever?

The genius that named this particular affliction managed to choose a name which has no correlation whatsoever to the reaction or its symptoms, hay is not a cause and you’ll never experience a fever. Hay fever is actually just a simple allergic reaction. Whilst all allergies have their own triggers and symptoms, hay fever is thankfully on the mild end of the scale when it comes to the reaction. If you’re a hay fever sufferer then high pollen counts from grass, trees or flowers as well as fungal spores could cause one or all of the below;

  • Blocked and itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • There are those who will experience more extreme reactions, usually discomfort or pain brought on by blocked sinuses as well as a loss of sleep which when put together are a great recipe for discomfort and irritability.
  • The symptoms, whilst far less severe than other allergic reactions out there, can still cause a lot of irritation and can turn a beautiful sunny day into a very uncomfortable 24 hours.

Who is Susceptible and Why?

We already know that just under 10% of the population suffers from hay fever, but what is it that makes a person susceptible?

There are no hard and fast rules of who will develop hay fever and it is very much a game of luck on whether you or your children will be able to avoid developing symptoms. Although all age groups can develop hay fever symptoms, the highest percentage of sufferers are actually pre-adolescent males. Fortunately, the majority of young male sufferers will outgrow hay fever in their later teenage years.

Whilst there’s no conclusive reason to why hay fever may develop in a person, studies have shown there to be a number of contributing factors, chief among them the potential for contracting the allergy through a hereditary passing down of susceptibility.

On top of this, those who suffer from other allergies are more likely to develop hay fever symptoms, asthma sufferers and other respiratory allergies are especially at risk. Being around second hand smoke in infancy has a large effect on whether your child will develop a number of respiratory issues in later life, hay fever being one of them. Surprisingly studies have also shown that children in higher earning families are more at risk of developing symptoms.

What Can You Do?

As with any illness or reaction prevention is far more preferable to treatment. The only 100% sure fire way to eradicate the chances of hay fever is to keep whoever is afflicted in a 100% controlled environment, something that is as impractical as it is absurd. You can diminish the risk of allergens within your home by ensuring that your ventilation system is effectively filtering the air and by introducing a thorough cleaning schedule, however, to remove allergens in an external environment is nearly impossible.

The chances are that the sufferer will show symptoms after running daily errands, going to work or school or simply sitting in the garden are very high. Once symptoms present themselves there are plenty of anti-allergy (also hay fever specific) medication that you can take. Check with your local doctor to see what is recommended in your specific case and seek further medical advice should the medication prove unsuccessful.

We hope that this brief overview of hay fever has been of use, if you have any question or have anything else to add, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

Image - OakleyOriginals

One question a lot of folks with a fully integrated home ventilation system often have is how to get the most out of it throughout the changing seasons. If it’s not an issue you’ve ever pondered you may be surprised to hear that there’s a few little tricks of the trade which can increase the efficiency of the system and thus the quality of air within your home.

The primary aim of a home ventilation system is to ensure that there is a constant stream of clean air. The system itself should take care of the distribution to various rooms, however there are steps you can take to make sure that the system is working at peak efficiency within each room. By applying a little basic scientific knowledge you’ll be able to ensure your home always has the cleanest air possible.

We all know that hot air rises where as cold air sinks. This basic scientific knowledge is all that you need to know in order to improve your home ventilation system. If you have a full home system then you’ll have various vents, some which will extract the air from the room and some which will feed fresh, filtered air into the room. To simplify the process, we’re going to split the year into two seasons, summer and winter. You’ll have to make the decision yourself on when it’s best to switch from a summer based customisation to a winter one.

Summer Configuration

In the hot summer months you’re going to have to deal with the hot air that will collect and stagnates close to your ceiling. By opening a higher placed extraction vent the hot air that’s stuck above your head will be drawn out of the room, creating a space for the cooler air to flow in to. If you can get a feed for fresh air in a lower part of the room you’re going to create a beautiful circulation of fresh air.

Winter Configuration

Unsurprisingly this is the opposite of the above. A fresh air feed high in the room with a lower extraction point will ensure that there is a constant feed of fresh air. Pulling the cold air off the floor makes room for the warmer, fresh air to occupy once it has been pumped into the room.

The added effect of following these guidelines will be a more consistent temperature throughout the house. If your home ventilation system enables you to change the temperature of the fresh air that is fed into your house, you’re likely to diminish the need for excessive heating in winter or opening windows in summer which will save you money and combat the spread of summer allergens.

Open All Vents?

There are those who think that opening all vents within your property is the best course of action. Whilst this will ensure plenty of points that stale air can be drawn from the room, it doesn’t help with creating a circular flow. To keep the air in your property as fresh as possible, you need to establish which points should be open and closed to create the most natural and effective flow of air.

In short you want to create the most effective and natural flow of air with fresh air taking the place created when stale air is extracted. The best way to achieve this is to extract high in summer and low in winter as hot air rises whereas cold air sinks.

How do you arrange your vents for your home ventilation system at home? What’s the most effective method you’ve found for ensuring the most effective flow of fresh air?

Image - Graeme Paterson

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