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Does Air Conditioning Help Allergies? An In-depth Analysis

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Allergies affect over 100 million Americans every year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, makes allergy sufferers miserable with sneezing, congestion, runny noses, and itchy eyes. Many allergy patients turn to air conditioning for relief, but does it really help? The following sections provide an in-depth look.

How Air Conditioning Works

Air conditioners cool and dehumidify the air in your home, providing welcome relief during allergy season. There are two main types of residential air conditioning systems:

  • Central A/C: A forced air HVAC system with an outdoor compressor and evaporator coils inside the ductwork to cool a whole house.
  • Window units: Compact, self-contained A/C systems mounted in windows to cool one room.

In addition to lowering temperatures, most air conditioning systems also filter out allergens with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) or pleated filters, which trap pollen, mold, dust, and pet dander.

Can Air Conditioners Filter Out Allergens?

Yes, air conditioners are very effective for filtering microscopic airborne particles that trigger allergies using filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating.

  • MERV 8-10: Catches pollen, mold spores, dust mites, pet dander
  • MERV 11-16: High-efficiency filtration for even smaller particles

Well-maintained A/C systems with a moderate to high MERV rating can eliminate many common household allergens like pollen, pet dander, mold, and dust mites. Just be sure to replace filters as recommended, usually every 60-90 days.

Using air conditioning to filter indoor air provides significant allergy relief by lowering concentrations of irritating particles. In addition, the cooler air from air conditioning units reduces natural allergen levels.

Ways Air Conditioning Can Exacerbate Allergies

While air conditioning provides allergy relief through cooling and filtration, some aspects of these systems can actually exacerbate symptoms if not properly maintained.

Many central air conditioning units utilize ductwork to distribute air. Dust and other allergens can accumulate in these ducts over time. Improperly filtered air then blows particles through ventilation systems, circulating irritants rather than capturing them. Dirty filters also lead to lower airflow, meaning allergens linger rather than properly exhausting outdoors.

In addition, improper drainage and maintenance can cause moisture build-up in air conditioning equipment. Excess humidity breeds mold and mildew growth, which spreads easily through poorly filtered ductwork.

To prevent air conditioning systems from aggravating seasonal allergies, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Check and replace air filters frequently, at least every 60-90 days
  • Have HVAC professionals thoroughly clean ducts as needed
  • Ensure condensation drains properly without standing water
  • Fix any leaks promptly to prevent excess moisture
  • Close vents and shut off airflow to unused rooms

With proper maintenance and care, air conditioners pose little allergy risk while still providing immense relief through filtration and temperature control. However, neglecting basic upkeep can lead to aggravating allergy problems. Follow these guidelines, and your AC unit will keep allergies at bay rather than stir them up.

Additional Allergy Relief Tips

To further minimize allergens and improve indoor air quality beyond relying solely on air conditioning, there are a few key steps allergy sufferers should take.

Implementing a thorough cleaning routine reduces dust that agitates allergies. Cleaning ductwork regularly also clears any built-up debris that could foster mold growth. Using a dehumidifier keeps humidity down, deterring mold and mildew production that releases spores, leading to allergic reactions.

Some other effective tactics include:

  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water to kill dust mites
  • Use allergen-blocking mattress encasements
  • Upgrade HVAC air filters to those capturing more allergens
  • Have ductwork professionally cleaned every 3-5 years to clear out contaminants and improve indoor air quality
  • Install a whole-house dehumidifier to maintain humidity and reduce mold spores
  • Ask your doctor about prescription allergy medications for your specific symptoms

While air conditioning units properly capture many airborne allergens, taking a comprehensive approach ensures allergen levels stay minimized. Maintaining good indoor air quality through regular duct cleaning, controlling humidity, and medical treatment provides immense seasonal allergy relief. The combination of these methods reduces irritating dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores for a comfortable, allergy-free home.

For more information, read these related articles:

The Logan Difference

Here at Logan A/C & Heat Services, we take a comprehensive approach to maintenance, prioritizing indoor air quality and allergen filtration. Our technicians undergo specialized training on HEPA filters, moisture control, duct cleaning, and other areas that impact air purity. This means fresher, cleaner air distribution for all our clients.

At Logan, your health and comfort comes first. We make recommendations tailored to your home’s specific needs, installing the right AC products for maximized filtration. And our helpful, honest staff provides timely service you can count on.

Contact us today to discuss a maintenance plan or schedule duct cleaning for Air conditioning you can breathe easy with.

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I set my A/C to help allergies?

68°- 72° F is the ideal temperature range to both alleviate allergy symptoms and maximize energy efficiency. Any cooler generally won’t improve air quality much more.

Can an air conditioner make my allergy symptoms worse?

It can if not maintained properly. Dirty filters and ducts, along with high humidity levels from condensation issues, may circulate allergens that exacerbate symptoms for allergy sufferers. Stay on top of filter changes and cleaning.

Do window A/C units help with allergies, too?

Yes! Compact window units cool rooms and filter air much like central systems. Look for high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) models for the most effective air purification. Just be vigilant about preventing excess moisture.

Should I run an air purifier at the same time as the A/C?

It depends on the quality of your A/C filtration and the severity of your allergies. Many efficient central A/C and window units filter particulates effectively on their own. Try A/C only first, and add air purifiers to individual rooms if necessary.

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