Dealing with environmental allergies can feel like a never-ending burden. Whether you're allergic to pollen, mold, dust spores, or all of these items, you may feel like there's no safe place where you can relax without exposure. However, if you take the right steps, you can make your own home a safe haven away from allergens. Here are four specific home upgrades that will help maintain your home as an allergen-free space.
To most people, a vacuum cleaner is a device that you keep in the closet and pull out about once a week. But there is another type of vacuum — a ducted vacuum. This type of system is permanently installed in your home. It consists of a series of ducts, much like those used by your HVAC system, and several vacuum hose attachments that are placed throughout the home.
Ducted vacuums are better for allergy sufferers for a couple of reasons. First, they make it easier and faster for you to vacuum your home, which enables you to vacuum your home more often. You can give the areas where you spend most of your time a quick once-over every day if you please, and this will keep allergens at bay. Second, with ducted vacuums, you don't have to empty the vacuum cleaner bag or case very often. There is a big collecting bin, usually located in the basement, that you can just have a non-allergic friend or family member empty every month or two.
The filter on your HVAC system is designed to catch big particles, but the smaller allergen particles, like VOCs, travel right through it. Making the filter fine enough to trap these particles would make it tough to blow air through the filter, compromising the efficiency of your HVAC system. So, instead of relying on your air filter alone to clean the air, consider installing an air purifier. This is a free-standing machine that will remove impurities of all types from your air.
Air purifiers remove the tiny allergen particles that a standard air filter will leave behind. Place one in the room where you spend most of your time, such as your bedroom.
New windows are often seen as a good option for energy-efficiency, and this is largely because they allow for fewer air leaks than old windows. But by letting in less air, new windows also let in fewer allergens. You won't have pollen and animal dander blowing into your home through the gaps between the frame and the sash.
New windows do not have to cost a fortune either. If you are handy, you can probably purchase replacement windows at a home improvement store and install them yourself with the help of a few friends. Once they are in place, make sure you keep them closed and rely on your HVAC system for ventilation.
Spray Foam Insulation
One of the biggest culprits for allergens in the home might be your insulation! Fiberglass and cotton insulation encourages the growth of mold, and it can also harbor insects like cockroaches. Keeping it clean is a lot of work. Closed-cell spray foam insulation, on the other hand, does not cause these problems. It is a dense foam that repels water and is therefore not prone to mold growth. Insects won't move into it either — to them, it's kind of like plastic.
If you make the home upgrades above, your home will be a much more comfortable place to be. Clean often and take off your shoes at the door, and you can continue to live allergy symptom-free in your own space.