If you thought the end of spring and summer would bring the end of allergy season, you may have been mistaken. In fact, it seems that fall and winter bring the allergens indoors, so you are coughing, sniffling, and sneezing in your own home. What you probably don’t realize is turning on your heating system for the first time could produce a massive allergic reaction.
For starters, turning on a forced air heating system can stir up allergens caught in the materials within your home, such as pet dander, mold, and spores. This is a consequence of anything that blows, and the best way to avoid extensive health problems and allergies is to thoroughly clean all fabrics in the home before turning on the heat for the first time. This means dusting the drapes (outdoors), vacuuming, and even cleaning cloth furniture.
Also, dust and dirt have been caught up in the unused heating ducts all spring and summer, so when you turn on your heat for the first time this year, you are effectively blowing all these nasty particles into your living space. Have no fear – there are ways to get around the pesky materials causing you distress.
Start by having your furnace and ducts cleaned. Every winter season should bring with it preventative maintenance, which includes the removal of unwanted buildup in your heating system. Remember, your ductwork has had an entire summer to gather bits and bobbles that will only incite allergic reactions on your part. Cleaning the mess is the first step to breathing fresh air.
Another good way to keep your heating system in shape is to install permanent HEPA filters. These can remove anywhere from 70-90% of the unwanted solids in your breathable air. At the same time, cleaning and maintenance are still important – HEPA filters must be cleaned periodically as well.
You may also be experiencing breathing pains because your air is too dry. If you are having frequent nose bleeds due to the heat running through the winter, consider adding a moderate amount of humidity to your environment. You can use saline sprays for instant relief of irritated mucous membranes in your nose, but a more permanent solution is to install a humidifier in your living space.