Winter Allergy Season Approaching

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A lot of people believe that once the cold air arrives, their allergies will go away.  While that may be true for some, this is not the case for everyone.  Quite frequently, we tend to conclude that the symptoms we can experience during the harsh winter months are caused by either a cold or the flu. It can be difficult, at times, to distinguish the difference as many of the symptoms overlap. How can you be sure what you are dealing with? Understanding the variables can help you choose the right path of treatment and know whether you are going to be out of the woods relatively soon or if you are going down for the count. Here’s a breakdown comparison to help you narrow it down!

winter allergy season

So What’s The Deal With Winter Allergies?

As people spend more time indoors during the winter months in general, indoor allergies become more prevalent as compared to the rest of the year when the outdoor air is the biggest contributor to allergies.  As home furnaces kick in, dust, mold spores, and insect parts that have settled throughout the summer are dispersed into the air.  These allergens can cause a histamine response in the immune system, causing watery eyes, runny noses, and other symptoms of an allergy or asthma attack.  The most common winter allergy triggers are dust mites, mold, animals, and fragrances when it comes to indoor responses.  Dust mites are microscopic bugs that are most commonly found in mattresses and bedding, and their waste and remains trigger allergic responses when they become airborne or when you come in contact with them.  The spores of mold found in humid areas like bathrooms or basements can also trigger allergic responses.  Many people think they are allergic to Christmas trees, for example, but really they are allergic to the mold spores that may have collected on them while in storage.  Proteins found in pet hair, skin, saliva, and urine can also cause allergic reactions.  Finally, many perfumes and colognes, as well as lotions, hairspray, air fresheners, candles, and potpourri can elicit reactions with people who have allergies to fragrances.

There are many actions you can take in order to ease your winter allergies.  They include taking antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy shots.  Antihistamines are medicines that reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by blocking the effects of histamines in the body, and decongestants help clear mucus out of the nasal passageways.  They can be used together to treat both symptoms of allergies.  Allergy shots expose your body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you have time to grow to tolerate it.

Air Filters Can Help!

Filters serve the same main purpose in automobiles, vacuums, humidifiers, refrigerators, dryers, and your home furnace and air conditioner. Protection and removal of contaminants. In your HVAC system, the air filter is there to not only protect your system from harmful buildup on the internal components, but also to help keep the air in your home clean from dust and allergens. This is especially important during those harsh winter months where you are inside for longer periods of time and your house is kept closed to keep your warm air in and the cold air out. The benefits of clean, fresh air are particularly welcome in the winter season when it is more difficult to introduce fresh, outdoor air into the home. To help reduce those winter allergy triggers, make sure to replace your air filter regularly. If your allergies are particularly aggravated by the winter season, consider our highest-rated MERV 13 filters to capture the greatest percentage of microscopic contaminants. Not sure what size you need? Our air filter measurement guide can help!

Order Now and Receive FREE SHIPPING on Your Order!

Choosing the filters that are just right for you and your family can be a challenge sometimes. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we are here to help answer any questions you may have and help ensure that you have chosen the proper size air filter that will fit perfectly. If you need personal assistance with selecting your home air filters, contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673. We care about our customers and guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality MADE IN THE USA products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA!

Tree Pollen Signals the Onset of Spring

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The beginning of spring can be a refreshing time, a time of awakening, a welcomed reprieve from the harsh elements and gloomy winter weather. But for many of us, springtime is also the beginning of allergy season. Those with pollen allergies begin to feel the effects as early as January in the southern US states. Those in the north may not be affected until May or June. Trees are the earliest producers of pollen and will provide the first signs of allergy symptoms to those that have a pollen sensitivity. In fact, the pollen count is currently so elevated in some areas of the United States that even those without a known allergy to pollen can feel some of the effects of allergy symptoms.

Interesting Facts About Tree Pollen

  • It is the earliest seasonal allergen of the year
  • The most common allergenic tree is oak
  • Tree pollen is similar to proteins found in some varieties of nuts, fruits, and vegetables, making it more possible for someone that has tree allergies to also have some food allergies as well
  • 53 different allergens associated with trees have been established by the World Health Organization and International Union of Immunological Societies (WHO/IUIS) allergen nomenclature subcommittee.
  • Changes in weather can affect the onset, length, and severity of pollen season

When To Expect Tree Pollen Season In Your Area

As indicated in the chart below, tree pollen season rolls out as early as January in the southern states and can last into June. This season begins kicking in a little later the as you move up the map. As you can see, the best region for those with tree pollen allergies is in the northern states where tree pollen is typically only active for about four months out of the year. In the South, where the weather tends to become warmer earlier in the year, you can expect tree pollen to be in force for a full six months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Trees Cause The Most Problems

Tree pollen allergy is surprisingly a fairly broad subject once you begin to study it. For the most part, we can divide allergenic trees into four orders that have been determined to be the most potent sources: Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales. Each order has a pattern of geographical distribution. Allergenic trees are present in almost every part of the world. With pollen allergens being viewed as a significant health factor responsible for allergic rhinitis and asthma, it is no surprise that there have been and continue to be numerous in-depth studies regarding this subject. Below we will outline the basic details of each order of allergenic tree and the typical location of each within the US region.

Geographic distribution of allergenic Fagales, Lamiales, Proteales, and Pinales species. The distribution data were extracted from maps provided on www.eol.org. Photographs of florescences of members of the Fagales (birch Betula verrucosa), Proteales (plane tree Platanus acerifolia), Lamiales (lilac Syringa vulgaris and olive Olea europaea), and Pinales (mountain cedar Juniperus ashei and Japanese cedar Cryptomeria japonica) were obtained from Fotolia.
  • Fagales
    • can have the form of a tree or shrub
    • sometimes contain cylindrical or spiked flowers
    • prefer temperate climates
    • mostly located in eastern and extreme western US
    • Birch, Alder, Hornbeam, Hazelnut, Beech, Chestnut, and Oak
  • Proteales
    • deciduous trees that grow laterally
    • flowers appear in a ball form
    • located primarily in Arizona, New Mexico, and California
    • American Sycamore, California Sycamore, Arizona Sycamore, Western Sycamore, American Plane, and Buttonwood
  • Lamiales
    • flowering trees or shrubs
    • widely scattered across the United States
    • includes over 23,000 species, with four species that have been noted to have allergenic proteins
    • European Ash, Common Privet, Olive, and Lilac
  • Pinales
    • all trees in this order produce cones
    • the most prevalent group spread throughout most of the US
    • out of seven families within this order, only one genera (Cupressaceae) has been identified as allergenic
    • False Cypress, Japanese Cedar, Arizona Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Japanese Cypress, and Junipers

Dealing With the Symptoms

If you find yourself sneezing and sniffling at the start of spring, or even earlier if you are in one of the southern US states, it is probably due to tree pollen. In general, the symptoms of a pollen allergy are referred to as hay fever. These troubling symptoms include:

  • runny nose, sneezing
  • stuffy nose, congestion
  • itchy, watery, red eyes
  • puffy or swollen eyes

The treatments recommended by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America include:

  • Antihistimines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene receptors
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray
  • Immunotherapy

US Home Filter Offers AC Filters to Help Reduce Allergens

No matter which type of HVAC system your home has, every unit needs a quality air filter that fits properly in order to maximize your indoor air quality and keep your unit running efficiently. US Home Filter can provide you with the best and most efficient HVAC filter available! Changing the filter in your furnace is as important as changing the oil in your car and US Home Filter offers filters to fit all heating and air conditioning units. From standard to custom air filters, to whole-house filtersgrille filters and humidifier filters, we have all of your filter needs covered!

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

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Taking care of your HVAC system to keep it running efficiently is an important item to include in your home maintenance plan every spring and fall. While there are some tasks that should be saved for a professional HVAC service company, there are several tasks that you can easily perform on your own to prolong the life of your system. Take a look at our Maintenance Checklist below for an overview of the types of things you can do to help take care of your unit as well as those items that should be completed by a qualified technician.

HVAC Maintenance Checklist

Indoor DIY Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

  • Clean the evaporator coil – The coil is usually located behind a door or panel above the blower motor. It is typically constructed in the shape of a letter A and covered with thin sheets of metal that are referred to as fins which are designed to best utilize the cooling effect of the refrigerant. Begin by using a soft brush to remove the outer layer of dust. Then spray with coil cleaner which can be found at your local home improvement store. Allow the cleaner to drip from the coil into the drain pan below. Clean the drain pan and ensure that the drain openly flows. This quick video
  • Clean the evaporator drain line – Warm, moist air travels through your evaporator coil. The heat is absorbed in the coil which cools it and circulates it back into your home. This process can create a humid environment which causes condensation on the coil that falls into a drip pan. A drain tube, usually about 1 inch in diameter, then carries the water into a floor or sink drain or sometimes the tube drains outdoors. A buildup of mold or algae can eventually cause a blockage. The drain tube can be cleaned by using a wet/dry vac, a plumbers snake, a garden hose, or by pouring distilled white vinegar through it.
  • Turn off water supply to the humidifier unit – Because of the humid environment created near the coil, it is recommended to turn off the water supply to your humidifier during the months when you are using your air conditioner. Some humidifier units are equipped with a Summer setting that will allow you to simply turn a knob to that setting to deactivate the humidifier for the season.
  • Change the air filterFacts About Standard Sized Air Filters – this is one of the easiest tasks you can do to keep your HVAC unit running at peak efficiency. Spring is the perfect time of year to change your air filter out since your system has likely been working hard over the previous winter months. Changing your filter now will give you a fresh start to the upcoming summer months, getting you started with a clean filter to allow your system to cool your home with ease. If spring allergies are a concern, we recommend our MERV 11 high-efficiency pleated filters to capture mold, pet dander, pollen, dust mite debris, and other contaminants.

Outdoor DIY Spring HVAC Maintenance Checklist

  • Clean the area around the condenser unit – You will likely have some debris that has collected around the base of the unit over the past few months. Leaves, stick, dirt, grass clippings, and other items commonly gather up against the unit. Sometimes, the exit for the ducting of the dryer vent will lead right into the side of the condenser unit. It is important to keep the condenser and the surrounding area clean and free from any type of debris.  Clear away any buildup of debris and trash as well as trim back vegetation and branches within a minimum of 2 feet around the unit.
  • Clean the condenser unit – Remove the outer cover or grate that covers the outdoor unit. A shop vac can be used to remove any debris on the outside of the unit. A garden hose can be used to spray the fins from the inside to wash away any built-up dirt on the fins. Coil cleaner may also be applied ahead of rinsing for caked-on debris.
  • Inspect and straighten fins – Condenser fins are positioned on the covering of your condenser unit outdoors. These function similarly to the fins on your evaporator coil by assisting with airflow and heat extraction. The fins are usually made of aluminum and are thin and easily damaged. When damage occurs, it disrupts an open path for air to freely flow and can adversely affect the efficiency of your unit since it will have to work harder. Here is a quick video with some easy instructions on repairing bent compressor fins.
  • Level the condenser unit – Having a condenser that is level allows your unit to function properly. Not only is it unsightly when the condenser pad is sinking off to one side, it also causes the lubricating oil to separate which can interrupt the flow of refrigerant through the system. It can also cause strain on the coolant lines leading to your home. A few simple items are usually all it takes to level the unit.

Hire a Professional

As we have shown above, there are a number of maintenance tasks that you can complete on your own to help take good care of your HVAC system. These items can all be done by a professional as well, if you don’t feel up to it. There are additional items that are important to have a professional take care of on a regular basis. It is usually best to schedule a technician to service the unit at least once a year, but ideally every six months. Preventative maintenance on your heating and air conditioning system goes a long way in prolonging the life of your unit. HVAC service companies may differ slightly in the tasks that are included in a tune-up or preventative maintenance service inspection, but you can generally expect the following to be addressed:

 

  • system inspection
  • check refrigerant levels
  • check coil and drain line/pan
  • look at compressor and motor
  • clean areas with buildup of dirt/debris
  • check air filter (may include replacement of filter)
  • replace worn belts, parts, or connections
  • test thermostat
  • test for leaks

One of the most important things you can do on your own to take good care of your expensive heating and air conditioning system is to simply change your air filter on a regular basis. The air filter in your unit is often one of the least expensive and easiest items to change. Additionally, replacing a dirty or clogged filter can have an immediate positive effect on the operation of the unit and its ability to keep the air in your home at the desired temperature without causing uneccessary strain on the moving components. A clean, fresh filter right before the approaching hot summer months will get you off to a great start!

At US Home Filter, we appreciate each and every one of our customers. We are here to help you choose the best solutions for your individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need!

Call us today at 1-855-237-1673!

 

Duct Cleaning – What You Should Know

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Air duct cleaning is something that has grown in popularity over the past several years. This service can be offered by a variety of companies including those that specialize in HVAC service and repair, cleaning services, restoration, or those that focus completely on cleaning air ducts. The ductwork in our homes and businesses is nicely tucked away, but many of us would be surprised to see what the inside spaces of the parts that make up this system may actually look like. There are diverse opinions either way regarding the necessity of duct cleaning, but those that suffer from allergies and have issues with excessive dust tend to be most receptive to the idea. Because it is a relatively recent process, no scientific studies have been able to prove that it will prevent illness and there are no findings available to show a measured improvement in air quality or a reduction in air particle counts. This article will outline the basics of ductwork, discuss what is involved with professional duct cleaning, and provide information that may help you decide if having your ducts cleaned is a good option for you.

What Is Duct Cleaning?

This typically involves a cleaning process which includes several components of your HVAC system. The list below identifies the items that are potentially included when having your ducts cleaned:

  • supply, return, and intake ducts and registers
  • grilles and diffusers
  • air handler, fans, and motor
  • housings, exchangers, and coils
  • drip pans

The methods used to perform cleaning can vary slightly, but standards have been established by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) to help ensure consistency across all providers of this service. Generally, you will first have an assessment of your ducts and HVAC system components listed above which will be similar to an inspection to determine the condition of your system and advise whether a cleaning is recommended or not. During the cleaning procedure, industry-specific tools are utilized to remove built-up dust and debris from the system and ducts that run through walls, under floors, and over ceilings inside your home – all in places that are nearly impossible for us to reach on our own. Then the loosened debris is vacuumed out, leaving behind a shiny, clean interior and the satisfaction of conquering those filthy ducts.

What Is Used to Clean Ducts?

There are various pieces of equipment, tools, and devices that duct-cleaning specialists will make use of when performing this service to your HVAC system.

  • Inspection Tools – items used to assess the level of debris that has collected inside the areas of the system that can be treated. These items can additionally be utilized to maintain a watch over the progress of the cleaning procedure and to determine if the results meet the desired expectations. Examples of these tools include mirrors, periscopes with lights, and cameras.
  • Compressed Air Devices – used in conjunction with many pneumatic tools that require direct air pressure. This usually comes in the form of a compressor.
  • Vacuums – specific vacuum devices are designed for use in air duct cleaning. Portable and truck-mounted units are both acceptable and approved by the NADCA. Either type of unit will create a negative pressure in the ductwork to maintain control over the flow of debris. If there is a need to extract moisture from any areas, a wet vacuum may also be used.
  • Access Tools – used to create an open path to various areas that are otherwise unreachable. Entry points are made using drills and saws, as needed, to allow equipment to successfully remove debris and clean the system. Whenever possible, access is made through diffusers, return grilles, vents, and duct end caps in order to avoid creating unnecessary openings.
  • Imaging Tools – these are used as inspection devices and also throughout the process to evaluate the results. Handheld cameras, CCTV cameras, and even remotely-operated mobile cameras that move through the ventilation as the process occurs can all be used to provide a clear view of the work performed.
  • Chemicals – cleaners and disinfectants may be recommended in some cases. These would include such things as biocides to kill bacteria and mold and sealants to repair leaks. Any chemicals or sanitizers used must be registered by the EPA. The NADCA provides a guide that discusses the use of chemicals related to duct cleaning.

Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, this is something you will need to watch out for. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to do your research before choosing a company. Here are a few pointers you will want to consider.

  • Cheap offers that, once in your home to perform the job, will convince you to do a “mold inspection” only to determine that you have a mold problem that they will offer to take care of for additional charges. This is commonly done to cover costs of coupon or discount deals. If you are concerned about mold, hire a reputable company that specializes in mold testing.

Consumer Checklist

Now that you are familiar with the basics of air duct cleaning and armed with a few helpful tips of caution, you will want to ensure that you have done the following before making a final decision.

Read information from different trusted online sources

Read independent reviews and recommendations for companies you are considering

Get more than one estimate and references from each company

Choose a verified member of the NADCA to perform the service

Create a preventative care list that includes yearly inspection of your heating and cooling system, regular changes of the system air filter, and steps that ensure you prevent moisture from getting into the system.

At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you are looking for the highest level of air quality and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits Of Home Air Filters

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While the number of benefits that come from using air filters in your home can be outlined in a fairly short and straightforward list, it is a list that contains three very valuable points and will provide you with a full understanding of the true advantages that you can expect to experience from these relatively simple items. Air filters come in a vast number of sizes and several MERV ratings. Despite the extensive differences in size and the many types available, all air filters are designed to fill these main purposes. Although the size you need is basically determined by the size required by your unit and the space allowed for the air filter to be installed in, most will have the flexibility to determine which of the varied MERV ratings will be most suitable to fit their needs for the desired level of dust control and allergen reduction. We begin by discussing the original intended purpose for air filters and the actual reason why they were created.

Protecting Your HVAC System – Benefit #1

The most common reason for the malfunction or failure of a heating and air conditioning system is a lack of maintenance. Often, the culprit is dust which sometimes builds up on the expensive moving parts of the unit. Once the dust has accumulated to a high enough level, there will inevitably be problems. These problems, when associated with dust, can almost always be easily preventable by regular maintenance. One of the simplest ways to maintain your system and preserve its life on your own is to simply use an air filter that fits properly and change it when it has reached its capacity to hold dust and effectively allow a proper rate of airflow so your home can be heated or cooled to the desired temperature.  Providing your Heating and Air Conditioning system with a protective barrier against dirt and debris is the original and primary reason for using home air filters. Air filters, although inexpensive in comparison to the cost of your HVAC unit, carry a high level of responsibility in keeping your system running efficiently and smoothly. Your air filter traps dust and dirt particles before it reaches the internal and moving components of the unit. What parts are contaminated with dust build-up when a poorly-fitting, low-quality, or dirty filter are used?

  • fan blade
  • motor
  • coil
  • duct work and vents

Reducing Dust In Your Home – Benefit #2

By preventing dust and debris from collecting on the mechanical parts of your heating and air conditioning system, your filter is also working hard to minimize the dust levels in your home’s air. Using a high-efficiency pleated filter provides a great deal of surface area which translates to a considerable amount of dust-holding capacity. Pleated filters are capable of trapping and holding several grams of dust that would otherwise be blowing through your ducts and back into your air where it would inevitably settle on all those surfaces that we prefer not to continuously dust off. Battling dust that continues to reappear on bookshelves, tables, window treatments, and decor is a constant point of frustration. It is virtually impossible to fully eliminate dust because there are so many sources, but your air filter is a great supporter of your fight to reduce dust as much as possible. We recommend a minimum of a MERV 8 rating on your home air filter for those that need to control average levels of dust, but those that need greater protection from smaller dust particles (fine, suspended dust) would benefit from a higher MERV rating. As you increase the MERV rating you capture finer particles and remove a higher percentage of dust and microscopic particulate matter (PM). It is this subject of filtering fine particles, even as small as attached bacteria and viruses, that leads us into the next benefit which has become a very popular topic of discussion just in the past few years.

Improving Your IAQ – Benefit #3

Although system protection is the priority and dust reduction is a close runner-up, we cannot ignore the importance to many consumers of air filters as they relate and contribute to our indoor air quality (IAQ). This has become increasingly important as it is believed that the average person spends 90% of their time in indoor spaces where concentrations of pollutants are 2-5 times greater as compared to the outdoor levels. Of course we would likely desire the cleanest air in the areas where we tend to spend the greatest amount of time. For those that have serious concerns and have experienced the benefits of having their air as clean as possible, IAQ may feel like the most important factor in air filtration. Of course they likely desire to protect and preserve their system and minimize dust, but those with severe allergies and sensitivities to certain particulates and contaminants often appreciate a quality high-level filter as much as some of the other items they use, such as allergy medication, to lessen the symptoms caused by allergens. A MERV 8 rating is sufficient for those that have mild allergies and sensitivities. We recommend a MERV 11 rated air filter when you experience a moderate level of allergy issues. If you are highly sensitive to particulates, pollution, contaminants and various allergenic elements, you should definitely consider trying a MERV 13 filter which will scrub your air from the finest particles and keep your air as clean as fresh as possible.

US Home Filter offers FREE SHIPPING on any order!

Choosing the best filters for your home or business can be overwhelming and confusing sometimes. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we have an experienced and friendly staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance or questions about your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to help you in selecting the perfect filter for your individual needs. We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.

 

Myths About Pet Allergies

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Did you know that over 60% of homes in the US own at least one pet? It is estimated that about 161 million of these pets consist of cats and dogs, the most popular domesticated household pets. Americans do love their pets, but about 15% of us are allergic to them. So if you enjoy having a furry companion but suffer the side effects caused by a pet allergy, you are definitely not alone. If you are fortunate enough not to be affected by pet dander, you most likely have a friend or family member that is. There is quite a bit of resourceful information available on the subject of pet allergies. And like most other subjects, you can find some inaccurate information that causes confusion. Here are some of the most popular misconceptions about allergies to animals.

Myth #1 Animal Hair Triggers Allergic Reactions

It is a common belief that animal hair is the cause of an allergic response to animals. While pet fur can certainly add to the problem and steps should be taken to keep the home as hair-free as possible, it is most important to recognize the actual source of the allergen. The proteins secreted in the saliva and skin of warm-blooded animals, not just cats and dogs, is the root cause of the allergy. These proteins are transferred onto the animal hair and surrounding surfaces, especially during the grooming process. So while more hair will result in more surface for the protein to adhere to, the hair in and of itself is not the source of the allergy.

Myth #2 Hairless Pets Are Hypoallergenic

Nice thought, but no. If it is warm-blooded, grooms itself or sheds skin, it can trigger an allergic response. Again, less hair certainly means less surface to collect dander and the proteins that cause the allergy, but there is no specific cat or dog that is certified as allergy-free. The levels of proteins (for example, Fel d 1 in cats) is unique to every individual cat. So finding that one particular cat does not inflame your allergies does not mean that all cats of that breed will produce the same results.

Myth #3 Pet Dander Is Only Present In Homes With Pets

That would seem logical and wonderful at the same time, but is unfortunately untrue. In fact, according to an in-depth study of the presence of animal allergens in the environment, cat and dog allergens can be detected in all variations of indoor environments even when a cat or dog has never been there. So this includes new construction, schools, museums, offices, and vehicles to name a few. Why would a brand new home or a school test positive for levels of these allergens when an animal has never been inside them? Due to the sticky nature of pet dander it is introduced to all of these unsuspecting environments due to the transfer effect, meaning it is carried on clothing or objects that have come in contact with an animal in another setting and then deposited in a new setting. Of course, the level of concentration of these allergy-causing proteins will be much higher in a home with pets. The highest levels are found in homes with pets that are primarily kept indoors.

Myth #4 The Only Pets That People Are Allergic To Are Cats And Dogs

Sometimes when there is a known allergy to cats or dogs, it may seem like a great option to get another type of animal such as a ferret or hamster. The truth is that every warm-blooded animal out there, domestic or wild, can have dander. All dander has the potential to trigger an allergic reaction as the protein that causes the symptoms is secreted through the skin and saliva. In some animals, such as birds and reptiles, allergens are transmitted through feathers and droppings. So all animals, including fuzzy guinea pigs, farm animals, and wild animals, can produce allergic reactions.

Myth #5 Pet Allergies Aren’t That Big Of A Deal

It’s a pretty common belief that the only thing you have to worry about if you have pet allergies is itchy eyes and sneezing. That’s a belief held mostly by those who do not suffer from a pet allergy. It would be wonderful if all you got was a little sniffle after cuddling with your fat, furry cat. Most of us that are allergic to cats, dogs, and other animals experience a greater number of symptoms. Sometimes, the range of reactions can be quite bothersome and severe. Some individuals react only after close and prolonged cuddling with an animal while others can simply exhibit symptoms just by being in the same home with one. While the idea of cat or dog allergies can be minimized by some, this list of possible reactions certainly matters to those who experience it:

  • sneezing, runny nose
  • itchy, red, swollen, watery eyes
  • sinus congestion, coughing
  • disrupted sleep
  • difficult, labored breathing
  • tightness in chest, wheezing
  • allergic dermatitis
  • eczema, hives

Myth #6 Removing The Animal Will Provide Immediate Relief

Obviously, the less exposure the less intense the symptoms will likely become. But if the symptoms are still going strong after the pet has been removed, don’t be surprised. It can take up to several months before symptoms improve or disappear. It will require a high level of filtration and deep cleaning to remove the dander as it is capable of attaching to almost any type of indoor surface and over time becomes embedded in cloth surfaces such as furniture, bedding, carpeting, and window coverings.

Myth #7 If You Have a Pet Allergy, You Must Get Rid Of Your Pet

Sometimes, this is the very unfortunate truth. But it is not absolutely the only choice in every situation. In certain cases you may be forced to rehome your pet, but there are times where it can depend on personal choice and being fortunate enough to find successful ways to reduce and manage the symptoms so you and your companion can remain together. Here are a few tips on balancing your allergy symptoms and keeping a pet:

  • use free-standing room air cleaners to add extra filtration to rooms where your pet is most often
  • use high-efficiency pleated air filters to keep your indoor air as clean as possible
  • make your bedroom a “no pet zone” to minimize the concentration of dander where you sleep
  • wash your hands often to prevent the transfer of dander to other surfaces as much as possible
  • saving the most fun part for last, when it comes to dander you cannot clean too much!

At US Home Filter, we enjoy helping our customers solve filtration issues and we are here to answer your questions about your indoor air quality and allergy concerns. We recommend our highest-rated MERV 13 pleated filters for your home or business if you desire the cleanest air possible and suffer from severe allergies such as those that can be triggered by your loving pets. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

 

 

All About Mold

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What is Mold?  

Mold is a living organism, classified as fungi, that reproduces through the development of spores that are separated and distributed from a parent source or organism. When in the ideal environment, the spores or “seeds” will attach to a source of nourishment and a colony will be established. Mold spores are present nearly everywhere as there are many possible indoor and outdoor sources for mold. These microscopic organisms can be dispersed year-round. There are over 100,000 types of mold ranging in size from 3-30 microns!

Intriguing Facts About Mold

  • Although bleach is commonly recommended to kill mold, it should not be considered an effective form of mold removal because dead or dormant mold spores are just as toxic as living spores. Bleach will kill mold spores, but the mold must be properly removed.
  • Studies indicate that the use of Vitamin D supplements is helpful in the treatment and prevention of allergies to mold
  • Mold, although harmful in many cases, also has many beneficial properties such as: assisting in the decomposition of organic material, aiding in the production of medications, producing enzymes that help to make certain foods such as cheese, assisting in the production of alcohol, flavorings, and even plastics.
  • Molds are classified by hazard levels A, B, and C. An example of a hazard A mold is Aspergillus fumigatus. It is commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens and is considered to be highly unsafe and should be immediately remediated. A class C mold such as Wallemia sebi, is a type that can grow in your carpeting or mattresses. While it is not one to be considered a health concern, it is still capable of causing damage to the surfaces it lives on and should be removed for that reason.

Requirements for Mold to Grow

Mold requires a few basic conditions in which to grow. The 3 main requirements are:

  • Food – an organic material or a surface where organic material is present. Examples include: cotton, wool, leather, paper, wood, food, grease, leaves, dirt, insulation, drywall, dust, carpet, wallpaper, upholstery
  • Moisture – leaky roof or pipes, condensation on window sills, humidifiers, vaporizers, damp basements or closets, garages or outdoor storage sheds, drains, areas with standing water
  • Temperature – mold can grow and multiply in temperatures between 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but the rate of growth is ideal and significantly increased when the temperature ranges between 79 and 90 degrees. When temperatures fall below freezing, mold will remain dormant and become active again once the temperature climbs back into range.

Accelerating the Growth of Mold

Mold will grow when the minimum requirements above are met, but there are certain conditions that increase the rate at which mold can multiply.

  • Humidity levels of 50% or greater – higher indoor humidity can allow moisture to develop on surfaces
  • Poor ventilation in bathrooms, laundry rooms, or kitchens. Proper air circulation can significantly reduce moisture in the air
  • Areas where piles have collected – leaves, damp clothing, food waste – ideal for holding moisture

Inhibiting the Growth of Mold

  • Reduce humidity – keep indoor humidity below 50%, keep air moving with fans or proper ventilation, and close windows when it is raining outside
  • Prevent moisture – when the conditions are met and moisture is available, mold will begin to grow in 24-48 hours. A prime example that you may have encountered is forgetting a load of laundry in the washing machine for a day or two. That awful smell is mold!
  • Use high-efficiency pleated air filters to help remove airborne mold spores which will eventually settle on surfaces and potentially begin to multiply. Mold can enter your indoor air through doors, windows, and can be transported on your skin, clothing, shoes, and pets. With proper circulation and a quality furnace filter or air conditioning filter, you can drastically reduce the number of mold spores floating in your air.
  • Add indoor room air cleaners if you have a sensitivity to mold. These can provide additional relief and protection from microorganisms such as mold that drift through your air.

Indoor Mold

Mold is commonly found indoors. The effects on people and animals can range from unnoticeable to debilitating. Indoor mold is typically identified by a musty odor and can be visible in the form of different colors depending on the type. As discussed, moisture is an absolute requirement for mold to multiply. Certain temperature ranges are ideal, but mold can grow at nearly any temperature but will become dormant below freezing. Common types of indoor mold are Cladosporium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium.

Outdoor Mold

We often think of mold as something that grows on surfaces such as food, leaky pipes, or wet basements. These can cause serious health issues in some cases, but also of concern are the outdoor airborne variety of mold particulates. These microscopic organisms are fungi that are related to mushrooms but have no roots, leaves, or stems. Outdoor mold spores can be present almost anywhere and are carried in the same way as pollen by air currents, insects, animals, people, leaves, grasses, weeds, and flowers. Outdoor mold begins to grow during the Springtime, with the highest concentrations occurring during different months depending on the region. Common outdoor molds types include Bipolaris, Ascospores, and Torula. Outdoor sources include wet branches, leaves, compost piles, grass clippings, and structures that are frequently shaded and damp.

Allergic Responses to Mold

We can all display reactions to mold, even if no allergy to mold has been formally diagnosed. An allergic response occurs when your immune system reacts unfavorably to the exposure of mold spores, either by contact or ingestion. The severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the level of sensitivity as well as the concentration of exposure.

  • watery, itchy, irritated eyes
  • runny nose, congestion
  • headache, cough, throat irritation
  • difficulty breathing, asthma, flu-like symptoms
  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (also known as Sick Building Syndrome)

The best treatment is to reduce the factors that help mold to grow and minimize exposure. Because of the size of mold particles, a MERV 8 pleated air filter will do a great job of capturing mold. For severe mold allergies, we recommend a higher rating such as our MERV 11 or MERV 13 air filters. Our MERV rating comparison chart can help you see which rating is the best choice for your needs.

At US Home Filter, we enjoy assisting our customers to help determine the best solutions for their individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or if you are overwhelmed by choosing the right custom size air filter, we will be happy to personally work with you to help ensure you order exactly what you need!

Call us toll-free at 1-855-237-1673!

Reduce Dust – Breathe Cleaner Air

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Controlling the level of dust indoors is a continuous struggle for nearly everyone. Dust originates from numerous sources and persistently collects on almost any surface. Despite ongoing efforts and diligent cleaning, it always seems to return before you know it. It is constantly introduced into your home’s environment through a variety of entry points and methods. The most effective way to minimize dust is to tackle it at its source. While you can noticeably reduce the amount of grime, dirt, soil and filth that originates from these sources, dust will still be very difficult to completely eliminate.

Outdoor sources: dirt, wind, sand, gravel, streets, sidewalks, garages/driveways, construction, industrial areas

Indoor sources: clothing, dryers, skin flakes/dander, ventilation, carpeting, furniture, linens/drapery, electronics, pets, attics, basements, closets, storage areas, remodeling projects

What exactly is dust?

Dust is matter that consists of various fine particles of assorted ingredients. It is classified as a solid particle that is formed by the reduction of a larger particle: indoor and outdoor debris, soot and ashes, food crumbs, dander and skin flakes, mold and mold spores, dust mites and their debris, insect particles, household fibers, lint, hair and fur, and pollen.

Large particles over 10 microns will settle onto surfaces very rapidly, often within just a few seconds. Because of the faster rate of fall, this type of dust is nearly impossible to be filtered by your HVAC air filter as it will rarely have a chance to be pulled into the duct-work by your return air vents. Some particles are so fine that they function like gases and have no rate of fall whatsoever. These particles, usually less than 1/10th of a micron, will remain suspended in the air only affected by nearby currents or movement. Small particles in the range of 1.0 – 10.0 microns will take several minutes to make their way to the nearest table, shelf, or floor. Particles in this size range will make up the majority of those that are able to be collected by your furnace filter or AC filter.

Dust Facts

  • The average household accumulates about 40 pounds of dust each year
  • Dust mites are a primary trigger for those with dust allergies
  • Persistent cold and hay fever symptoms are often due to an allergy to dust
  • Household dust is the main contributor to indoor allergies
  • The particle size of atmospheric dust varies greatly between .001 – 40 microns
  • Dust allergies tend to flare during the months of July and August when the dust mite population increases, but can also present problems during the cooler months when we typically spend more time indoors.

Dust allergy symptoms

  • ongoing cold symptoms
  • itchy, red, watery eyes
  • runny nose, frequent sneezing
  • cough, headache, fatigue
  • symptoms that worsen when sweeping, dusting, changing bedding/linens, or vacuuming

Dust and other airborne particulate matter can cause these symptoms in those that have a sensitivity or allergy to the type of particle being inhaled. Some allergens, such as soot, ash, lint and pollen, are proven to cause reactive symptoms even when there is no known allergy to that substance. Contaminants and allergens can trigger these reactions in non-allergic individuals simply because they are classified as irritants. This irritation or onset of symptoms will arise when the particles are inhaled. Our respiratory tract allows entry of these particles to different levels based on the size of the particle. The levels can be divided into three areas:

 

  • Inhalable – particles that are less than 100 microns and can be breathed in through the nose and mouth 
  • Thoracic – particles that are less than 10 microns and can pass the larynx, trachea, and enter into the bronchial region
  • Respirable – particles that are less than 4 microns reach the gas exchange region in the lower airways

Keeping Dust Under Control

  • Use a vacuum with HEPA filtration
  • Frequently clean all of your hard surfaces. Remember air vents, fan blades, books, shelves, door and window frames, vases, artwork, pictures, wall hangings, collectibles, electronics
  • Clean and seal ventilation and ducts
  • Use an air filter with a higher MERV rating to capture the finest dust particles. A MERV 13 pleated air filter is recommended for those with the most severe allergies and excessive dust issues
  • Allowing your system fan to run more frequently to recirculate the air so your air filter can remove the most dust and prevent more from gathering on surfaces
  • Consider reducing the number of cloth items such as drapes, pillows, upholstered furniture, and carpeted surfaces or include them in the list of items that should be cleaned or vacuumed regularly
  • Think about using simple, smoother decor that is less ornate and detailed which will not be as prone to harbor dust and will be easier to keep clean
  • Add entry rugs or mats to all doorways leading in and out of the home to better collect and contain incoming debris from shoes and pets
  • Keep walkways, decks, patios, and garage areas swept to lessen the amount of dirt that can be tracked into the home

Minimizing Dust Improves Your IAQ – Indoor Air Quality

Nobody wants to breathe dirty air. There’s no doubt that improving the quality of air in your home is highly beneficial. The air you breathe can have a significant impact on allergy symptoms, asthma triggers, and your overall level of comfort. You air transports allergens and contaminants, allowing them to be inhaled or to settle on surfaces where they can spread to other areas. Using high-efficiency pleated air filters is a great added level of defense in helping to clean your air from allergens and dust. Using a minimum of a MERV 8 rating will help to collect large amounts of dirt and debris, not only protecting your HVAC system, but going above and beyond by capturing common allergens such as pet dander, dust mite debris, pollen, and mold spores. Upgrading to a higher level such as MERV 11 or MERV 13 is recommended for those who desire a greater percentage of dust collection and trapping the smallest allergens.

At US Home Filter, we take pride in helping our customers find the best filtration solutions to fit their individual needs. Whether you need help with one of our standard stock size air filters, a Whole House Air Cleaner replacement filter, Grille filters, or a custom size air filter built to your specifications, we will be happy to personally assist you with any of your filtration needs!

 

Analyzing the Air We Breathe

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Most of us do not spend too much time analyzing or thinking about the process of breathing, what our air is made up of, and the role that air filters play in the air quality of our indoor spaces. Using pleated air filters in our heating and cooling systems can be highly beneficial in scrubbing pollutants and allergens from the air in our homes.  There is actually a great deal of interesting data about this seemingly insignificant subject.

Did you know?

  • The average adult inhales and exhales almost 400 cubic feet of air each day
  • We take an average of 17,000 – 23,000 breaths per day
  • While oxygen makes up about 20% of our air, our body only requires 5% of that
  • If Earth were compared to an apple, the layer of atmosphere containing the air we breathe can be compared to the skin of the apple

The Anatomy of Air

The air we breathe is a combination of gases: 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% argon, carbon dioxide, and trace amount of other gases. Within the air are particles and gases that originate from many sources, nature and man-made. Although much of what we breathe is filtered and exhaled, there is a host of contaminants that can impact our health and surroundings. Whether the source may be indoor or outdoor, naturally-occurring or from a man-made process, all particles are categorized as either an aerosol or a gas. Many types of particles can be captured with the air filters we use in our heating and air conditioning systems.

Aerosols – defined as a suspension of a solid or liquid particle in the air. This encompasses a multitude of particulates that can be a solid, liquid, or compound:

  • Dust – a solid aerosol created from the reduction of a larger solid particle or material. This can be created by drilling into a surface such as wood or concrete or from a natural occurrence such as a volcano or sandstorm
  • Mold – a bioaerosol that has indoor and outdoor sources derived from soil, plants, and moist surfaces such as walls, insulation, clothing, or carpet.
  • Bacteria and viruses- also classified as bioaerosols that are transported by air currents and are estimated to include millions of varieties of each
  • Fumes – created from vapor condensation from such processes as combustion or welding
  • Fog – a liquid created during water vapor condensation
  • Mist – a suspension of liquid droplets that can include oils, paint, acids, and chemicals
  • Smoke – from the burning or combustion of organic matter such as wood, coal, or tobacco
  • Smog –  air pollution caused by industrial or chemical processes

Gases – defined as a material that can expand indefinitely to fully occupy the space it is in. Gases exist in the form of molecules and include vapors along with the gases that make up the composition of our air. Gases can be odorous, toxic, and corrosive in nature. The presence of most gases will be recognized, but some such as Carbon monoxide are undetectable by the sense of smell. Gases may originate from chemical, manufacturing and biological processes.

The Micron

Particles are measured in micrometers (also referred to as a micron), using the abbreviation “μm”. A micron is 1 millionth of a meter or an inch divided by 25,400. For perspective, the average human hair is about 150 μm while the smallest visible particle is around the 25 μm range. Particles measuring less than 1μm make up over 98% of the particles found in the outdoor atmosphere while only 0.005% consist of those measuring 20 μm.

The Role of Air Filters

Air filtration provides us with a means to attain the desired level of indoor air quality. Air filters were originally intended to simply shield the components of your expensive HVAC system, thus protecting it from harmful dust build-up and extending its life. As the manufacturing process of air filters evolved over the decades, filtration media became more refined and specialized which allowed us to go beyond system protection into cleaning contaminants, allergens, and other bothersome particles from our air using high-efficiency pleated air filters. This has allowed a significant improvement in indoor comfort and cleaner air in our homes and businesses.

If indoor air quality is important to you, begin by selecting the level of filtration based on the types of particles that you aim to capture with your air conditioning filters and furnace filters. You can choose a MERV rating that targets specific types of particles such as pet dander, mold spores, or pollen. The higher the rating, the smaller the particle that can be captured. A general guideline for MERV ratings is:

  • MERV 8 – for mild allergies and average dust particles
  • MERV 11 – for moderate allergies and smaller dust particles
  • MERV 13 – for severe allergies and the finest dust particles

Determining the size that your system requires and choosing the MERV rating that is best for you can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have never purchased air filters for your home or if you have a new unit or home to buy filters for. You can take a look at our air filter measurement guide to help you pick the right size or call us and we can easily assist you with ordering the exact air filter size you need and recommend the best rating for you depending on the level of filtration you want. Whether you need AC or furnace filters, a specialty Whole House filter, a Grille filter, or even a custom air filter size, we have a professional and helpful staff ready to take care of you!

Call us at 1-855-237-1673!

Humidifier Season is Here

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Did you even know there was such a thing as humidifier season? It occurs during the driest months of the year, typically from October to March for most of us. Humidifiers and humidifier pads, also known as humidifier filters, can be very beneficial during the chilly, dry winter months. In the wintertime, our heaters work hard to keep us warm and cozy. Our air filters and furnace filters strive to keep the air inside clean and free of contaminants. Along with these elements that keep you comfortable and improve your indoor air quality, why not add a humidifier unit that will make your environment even more enjoyable when that cold weather settles in?

How can you tell if you need a humidifier?

As the fall weather transitions into the winter months, the air becomes increasingly cold and harsh. While our heaters are running strong to keep us warm, the moisture is depleted from the air inside and can cause many individuals a lot of discomfort. Excessively dry air can result in a number of issues. What exactly are the signs that your indoor air is too dry?

  • Dry, irritated skin, eyes, nose, and/or throat
  • Inflammation of respiratory tract increasing risk of cold, flu, and infection
  • Increased static electricity – flyaway hair, clingy clothes, getting shocked
  • Brittle, warped, cracked wood surfaces, gaps or creaking in floors, loosened furniture joints or window frames

Benefits of humidified air

While these are the undesirable side-effects of the dry air that occurs this time of year, you do not need to suffer needlessly. Increasing the level of humidity in your home can provide a significant amount of relief. What can you expect when you add moisture to your air?

  • Skin that does not feel stretched, dry, and flaky
  • Nasal passage and throat will be less dry and irritated
  • Reduced risk of sickness and infection, plus improvements in healing times
  • Decreased static electricity
  • Wood surfaces and flooring are protected from effects of overly dry air
  • You can set your thermostat lower – moist air is warmer than dry air, so with the use of a humidifier you will achieve a warmer indoor temperature at a lower setting

Types of humidifiers

There are basically two main categories of humidifiers – whole-house or stand-alone. Both function in the same manner of adding moisture to increase the indoor humidity levels in your home.

Whole house – these are installed inline with your heating system and will disperse moist air into your home through your air vents during heating cycles.  

Stand-alone – as their name implies, these humidifiers are separate from your heating system. They are available in various sizes, such as a tabletop unit for use in a particular room, or larger console units that will humidify a larger area of your home.  

Regardless of the type of humidifier unit, they all require the use of a humidifier pad.  The humidifier pad or humidifier filter, also known as a wick filter or evaporator pad, is responsible for assisting your unit in distributing moisture evenly into your home’s air.  Most humidifier pads need to be changed every 2-3 months or at least once per season at a minimum.

Ideal humidity level

The ideal range for the humidity level in the home during the winter season is between 30-40%. Levels will however vary depending on the outdoor temperature. A level of humidity that is too high can cause condensation on your windows and facilitate the growth of moisture, as well as providing the ideal living environment for dust mites to thrive in.  Both of these will commonly trigger allergic reactions in many people, including those without a specific allergy to them. Conversely, if your humidity level is too far below the recommended range, you may begin to feel the effects of dry air such as itchy skin and irritated respiratory airways. You can easily monitor the humidity level with a hygrometer which can be found at home improvement stores for a pretty low cost.

Don’t Suffer This Winter – Try a Humidifier!

Humidity is simply the level of moisture present in the air. We can utilize humidifier units to increase our level of indoor humidity, thus decreasing the level of dryness in our air. We have outlined many immediate improvements that remove or drastically reduce some of the most annoying issues that we complain about when the air is too harsh and dry. A stand-alone unit is the least costly and easiest to set up, so if you are unsure about committing to a whole house unit, try this option first and start enjoying the results right away!

US Home Filter offers a full selection of humidifier pads.

Order now from US Home Filter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your order!

Selecting the filters that are just right for your home can be difficult and confusing at times. At US Home Filter we understand this, which is why we offer an experienced staff to help answer any questions you may have. For personal assistance with your air filter needs, please contact us now online or call us at (855) 237-1673 and we will do our very best to assist you in selecting the right filter for your individual needs. We carry humidifier filters and pads for all major manufacturers (including Air King, American Standard, AprilaireGeneralAire and Honeywell). We want to earn your business and we guarantee your satisfaction! Take advantage of our quality products, vast selection, low prices, and enjoy FREE SHIPPING on every air filter order within the Contiguous USA.