Is Your HVAC System Responsible For Your Allergies?

Posted on: 5 March 2021


While spring can be a beautiful time of the year, it can also be an unpleasant experience for many allergy sufferers. Returning home should provide some welcome relief, but what if your home is the source of your allergies? A runny nose or itchy eyes are sure signs that something irritating is in the air, and there may be an issue if you notice these symptoms when you step in your front door.

A properly functioning HVAC system should help protect you from allergens by cycling and filtering the air in your home, but maintenance issues can make the situation worse. Recognizing when your HVAC system is to blame allows you to fix these issues and ensures your house remains an allergen-free sanctuary.

Understanding HVAC Filtration

A typical home HVAC system uses a forced air blower to provide warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer. The furnace and air conditioner share ductwork, so any problems will likely affect both systems. When operating correctly, your HVAC system cycles air by pulling it through return vents and passing it through a filter before distributing it again to your home's registers.

Since your heating and cooling ductwork constantly cycles the same air through your house, a problem with filtration (or in the ductwork) can wreak havoc on anyone with allergies. Instead of allowing allergens to settle to the ground, your HVAC ductwork will collect them, blow them through the air, and ultimately distribute them throughout your home.

Identifying and Resolving Issues With Your System

Allergen issues in a home HVAC system usually stem from inadequate filtration, inadequate maintenance, or some combination of the two. Your HVAC filter collects and traps particles that travel through the return ductwork, preventing them from re-entering your home. If irritating particles are too small or the filter has become clogged, then you'll likely experience a reduction in air quality.

An excellent first step is always to change your filter, especially if you haven't replaced it recently. You can also consider upgrading your filter to a higher MERV rating, which can filter smaller particles. Be careful when making this change, however. Higher MERV filters are more restrictive and may put extra strain on your blower motor.

If these steps don't solve your problem, then it's time to consult with a professional. Upgrading to a HEPA filter may provide some needed relief, but you'll need to check with an HVAC technician to ensure your system can handle the added restriction. Whole-home air-purifiers are another possible way to improve your system's filtering capacity.

Whatever steps you choose to take, remember that your HVAC system should help you to breathe easier. If it's making your allergies worse, then there's a problem that you need to address.