Maintain Your HVAC System to Reduce Exposure to Allergens

Maintain Your HVAC System to Reduce Exposure to Allergens

When the seasons change, it’s a great time to focus on your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system to help prevent asthma and allergies.  HVAC systems handle, filter and circulate all the air we breathe, making them essential for avoiding exposure to allergens.  An HVAC system that is regularly cleaned and serviced will reduce your symptoms to help you relax, feel comfortable and get a better night’s sleep.

Replace air-filters regularly.  This is necessary to ensure your HVAC system is working effectively and efficiently.  Install new air-filters according to the manufacturer’s instructions or at least every two months.  It’s as easy as sliding out the old one and replacing it with another.

Use the highest-quality filters.  We recommend High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, though these are not compatible with all heating and cooling systems.  Choose the highest rated filters your system allows, which are definitely worth the extra money.

Clean the unit and vents.  You know it’s important to dust regularly but how often do you remember to clean the register and return vents?  These should be the first areas you clean since vents can spread dust, dander and other irritants throughout your home.  Take the time to clean around both indoor and outdoor HVAC units as well.

Check for mold.  Mold growth is unfortunately common in ventilation ducts so this is important to monitor.  Look for visible signs of mold on drains, coils and air-handlers as well as a musty odor coming from the vents.  If you suspect you have mold that you can’t clean, contact a professional HVAC maintenance service.

Maintain humidity levels between 40% and 50%, which you can measure using an inexpensive hygrometer.  Moist air can lead to mold growth, while air that is too dry can be irritating to people with asthma and allergies.  If your HVAC system is not maintaining adequate humidity, you can control these levels in your home with a separate humidifier or dehumidifier.

Have your system serviced.  We recommend having your home heating and cooling system checked by a professional every one to two years.  These service providers will ensure your system is working properly, make repairs and do any cleaning or other maintenance as necessary.

Consider upgrading.  HVAC systems and upgrades are expensive but may be worth the improved air quality they provide.  Newer systems often feature valuable options like HEPA filtration, outdoor ventilation and improved humidity and temperature controls.


Kevin Arnold

Kevin Arnold writes about allergies and asthma, travel and healthy living.  For more tips and information, check out all of his posts at