Category : allergies

7 Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Indoor Air Pollution

air quality

As Americans, we spend about 90% of our time indoors. Yes, 90%. That means that we’re almost always breathing indoor air – and many times, it’s dirtier than the air outside. Indoor air can carry pollutants like mold, mildew spores, dust, pollen, dirt, dander, tobacco smoke, and more – all of which can affect your health and worsen illnesses like asthma or bronchitis.

Our duct cleaning experts are here to offer some simple ways you can reduce your indoor air pollution and breathe better:

Smoking

To prevent your family from inhaling carcinogens, smoke outdoors and as far away from your home as possible. Tobacco smoke is dangerous for your lungs and (like dirt and dust) it settles into furniture and carpets, so your family can inhale smoke long after you’re done with your cigarette.

Humidity

Mold and dust mites love moisture, so keep your home’s humidity level at 30%-50% and you’ll help prevent excess allergens. A dehumidifier is a great investment for reducing humidity. You can also do simple things like open a window when cooking or running the dishwasher, and vent your clothes dryer to the outside of your home.

Carpets

Dust and dirt can easily settle in your carpet, so make sure you vacuum it regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner that has at least 12 amps of power to make sure you’re getting a good clean. You can also find vacuums with an indicator that tells you when the dust and dirt have all been drawn out of the carpet.

Plants

There are several species of houseplants that naturally purify the air and filter out organic chemicals. Keep at least one plant in every room of the house and you’ll not only enjoy some live decor, but also cleaner air. Some popular choices are aloe vera plants, spider plants, weeping fig plants, azaleas, Chinese evergreens, and more.

Cleaning Products

Many homeowners don’t realize that cleaning products can have harmful chemicals (like ammonia, phosphates, bleach, chlorine, etc.) that are not only bad for the environment, but are bad to breathe in. To reduce air pollutants, look for natural cleaning products that are made from plants and have labels like “solvent-free,” “non-toxic,” and “phosphate-free.”

Mats

People can track in dirt and chemicals on their shoes, which can then settle into your carpet. Put large floor mats outside of every door for people to wipe their feet on. If you want to take it a step further, you can even have your family members and visitors take their shoes off before they come inside.

HVAC Filters

Your HVAC units have filters that trap harmful pollutants and prevent them from traveling through your home, so make sure you change your filters on a regular basis to keep your indoor air clean.

To reduce your home’s indoor air pollution even more, call our duct cleaning specialists! We’ll do a thorough job of removing dust and debris from your duct system to make sure that the air you breathe is as clean as possible.


Some Good and Bad News About Allergy Season

 

air qualityAt Oliver, we have some good news for you and some bad news. The good news is it’s starting to warm up outside and it looks like we’ve seen the last of winter. The bad news? According to weather.com, this allergy season is going to be the worst allergy season yet.

There are several factors that affect the allergy season every year. Dr. Clifford Bassett, founder and medical director at Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, warns that a rise in carbon dioxide leads to an increased production of pollen. And since carbon dioxide has only been rising, we can expect more pollen this season.

Another factor of allergy season is the weather during the previous summer – the hotter the season, the stronger the pollen the following spring. Last year, summer 2014 was recorded as the hottest summer on record, which means allergy season isn’t looking too good. One last factor is the amount of precipitation that the winter before spring brings. Lots of precipitation (like the winter we just had) tends to enhance the amount of grass pollen during the following season.

While all of this adds up to what may be a horrible upcoming allergy season, we have more good news: our air duct cleaning team can help reduce your suffering this spring. With our Home & Duct Performance Test, we can evaluate your home and find out if it has too much humidity, too little humidity, or polluted air. If so, our experts can perform a thorough duct cleaning to reduce the amount of allergens and pollen that’s circulated through your home. We can also suggest a good humidifier or dehumidifier, if necessary.

Let us help you breathe easier this spring. Give us a call at 1-877-757-1141.


How To: Heating Vent Cleaning

duct cleaning company

When you have dust and dirt buildup anywhere in your house, you can bet that the amount of airborne particles and allergens in the air is more than usual. That’s why it’s important to change your HVAC filter and clean your vents.

Your HVAC filter is designed to filter particles and allergens from the air as the air flows from your heater. Once the air reaches the room you’re in, it should be clean. When your filter is dirty, however, particles can flow through it and stick to the vents throughout your home instead. This means the more particles your vents collect, the more you’ll be breathing in.

To clean your vents, first turn off your heat. Then, attach a crevice tool to your vacuum hose and clean your floor, baseboard, and ceiling vents. After that, unscrew your vent covers and remove them. Wash them with mild soap and warm water, making sure to wash in between the slats. (To make things easier, you can use a small sponge paintbrush to get into nooks and crannies.)

While you let your vents dry, clean inside your ducts with your vacuum, making sure you remove as much dust, dirt, and cobweb buildup as possible. After you’re done, replace your vents and screw them back into place.

To top it all off, change your HVAC filter (especially if it hasn’t been changed in three months or more). You and your family will be breathing the cleanest air possible, which means you’ll be reducing your risk of a cold, the flu, upset allergies, or aggravated asthma symptoms.

You should aim to clean your vents at least twice a year and change your HVAC filter every three months or so. In addition, we recommend hiring a duct cleaning company (like us!) once a year to perform a thorough duct cleaning and keep your air fresh and healthy.


Duct Maintenance Now Means Lower Heating Bills Later

air duct cleaning

We know – it’s only September and we’re talking about heating bills, but in just a couple months, we’re all going to be turning up the heat when the temperatures drop. We know you’re not looking forward to paying high prices for your heat, which is why it’s a great idea to maintain your ductwork before it gets cold.

A Thorough Cleaning

At Oliver, we offer a thorough air duct cleaning that will remove the thousands of dust mites and contaminants that get trapped in your ductwork. Even if you have an energy efficient HVAC system, when your ducts are dirty, the warm air from your heater won’t travel as well and you’ll have to use more heat to make the house comfortable. Let our experts help. We’ll quickly and thoroughly get rid of any build-up in your ducts.

Proper Insulation

Insulation is what helps maintain the temperature of your home – it’s what keeps the warm air from escaping and what keeps the cold air from coming in. If your ductwork isn’t insulated properly, you’ll lose a lot of your heat and will end up paying more on your monthly energy bills. How much insulation you need depends on what area of the country you live in and what your current insulation situation is like. Talk to someone who can give you all the details.

Repairs

If you have ductwork with holes in the pipes or bad connections between pipes, you could be losing a good chunk of your heating efficiency (up to 20%). This means that you’ll not only be producing more carbon emissions, but you’ll also be paying for more heat than necessary. Repairs can be hard to detect yourself, so have a professional come to your home and inspect your ductwork.

Air Quality

As a bonus, clean, insulated, and repaired ductwork will mean a better quality of indoor air for you and your family. Clean indoor air means you’ll be breathing in fewer contaminants that could ultimately make you ill or make existing conditions (like allergies or asthma) worse.

So maintain your ducts now and come winter, you’ll enjoy a much more efficient heating system, healthier air, and lower heating bills.


To Do Today: 3 Things To Reduce Allergies

We’re all very excited for the arrival of sunny days! Yesterday was so nice that my husband and I strapped the baby in the stroller and walked to a local restaurant for dinner. The food was great, and we all enjoyed the fresh air – even though we both had terrible sinus pressure from our allergies by the time we got home. Some experts are predicting that this could be one of the worst allergy seasons in 10 years because the deep freeze this winter and lingering thawing process delayed the usual, gradual start to pollen season and all of it is bursting out at once now. And Philadelphia being in the Top 25 on the list of worst allergy cities in the US doesn’t really help any of us! Here are 3 quick and easy things that can help though, why not give them a try?

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First, pick up a jar of local honey. You can find it at most health stores and farmers’ markets. In the process of making honey, bees process the pollen into a version that your body can handle and help recognize again when you breathe it in so you don’t have as strong of a reaction (kind of like a natural vaccine!). I asked my doctor about this one a couple of years ago and she confirmed that this is no old wives’ tale – it really does help! Take a look at the label and see where your honey comes from – there are local beekeepers all over our area, so why not support a local business and do something good for your health at the same time? I drink mine in tea daily, and it really does help.

Second, consider changing your shower routine. If you shower right after you get home or come in from outdoors, you won’t be carrying the pollen or other triggers around your house with you. Talk about washing away the cares of the day! Even a change to showering before bed instead of first thing in the morning will help get rid of the outdoor pollen and let you sleep better.

 

Third, schedule a duct cleaning appointment. The last thing you need after spending all day battling outdoor allergies is to breathe in dirty air at home. Between duct cleanings, set a reminder to check and change your filter monthly. Consider a HEPA or specialty allergy filter to help keep your lungs happy.

Want to learn more about duct cleaning? Call or click for a free estimate today!


Guest Blogger – Home Is Where the Health Is: Dust Mites and Your Health

Thanks to our friends at Thompson for putting together this great piece on dust mites!

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While they are too small to detect with the naked eye, dust mites can cause big health problems for people with asthma or allergies. These microscopic creatures thrive in warm, humid environments where there are dead skin cells from people and animals to feed on – in other words, they thrive in many ordinary households. In particular, they like bedroom carpeting and household upholstery. As many as 40,000 dust mites can thrive in one ounce of dust, with each releasing about 20 fecal pellets per day.

What Could Happen

So what’s the big deal? Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Exposure to dust mites and their waste products can trigger asthma attacks and allergy symptoms in people with these conditions. According to the Alliance for Healthy Homes, exposure to dust mites in childhood may even cause certain children to develop asthma.

Dust mite levels often go down in the winter when humidity levels drop; however, many people with breathing problems use humidifiers in the winter, which can make humidity levels even higher than they are in the summer, thus worsening their dust mite and related health problems. Of course, too-low humidity levels can cause breathing problems as well. Indoor humidity levels should ideally be between 35 and 50 percent for optimal air quality and protection from mites.

How to Get Rid of Them

Some things you can do around the house to get rid of dust mites include weekly hot-water laundering of bedding, covering mattresses and pillows with allergen-resistant covers, and regularly vacuuming and steam cleaning carpets. In humid environments, it may be especially difficult to get rid of dust mites.

While doing things like laundering bedding frequently can help reduce dust mites, if anyone in your household suffers from allergies or breathing problems, a whole-house air filtration system is the best way to zap dust mites, as well as other allergenic particles, toxic compounds, and infectious agents that your family’s air supply may be harboring. Air filtration services can also be used to provide optimal indoor humidity levels.

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This post written by Thompson Electric, Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling. Check out more posts from the Thompson Home Is Where The Health Is blog here!


10 Ways to Suffer Less From Allergies

As the weather gets colder and we start spending more and more time indoors, this time of year can present challenges to those who suffer from allergies and asthma. We’d like to thank Dr. Luetke of Broad Axe Family Medicine in Skippack for providing us with these helpful tips:

1)      To kill dust mites: wash pillows and stuffed animals weekly in hot water (above 130 degrees). If using cooler water, use bleach.

2)      Reduce indoor humidity to below 60 percent. Ideal ranges are 30-50 percent.

3)      Fix leaky faucets, pipes, or other sources of water that have mold around them. Use bleach to clean moldy surfaces.

4)      When vacuuming, use a dust mask (available at hardware stores), double-layered or microfilter vacuum bags, or a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

5)      Replace standard HVAC filters with HEPA filters, available at home improvement stores. Air filters are rated on a MERV scale of 1-16, with a higher rating indicating better filtration of small irritants and allergens. Oliver also offers high-efficiency filters.

6)      Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf on cold or windy days.

7)      Talk to your doctor about all over-the-counter medicines you are taking, including cold remedies, aspirin, vitamins and other supplements. Some OTC medicines can aggravate asthma.

8)      Smart vacation planning can also provide relief: schedule your next getaway when pollen counts are highest locally.

9)      Professional duct cleaning can significantly reduce the amount of harmful irritants and allergens circulating in your home. Call Oliver today for a free estimate.

10)   If you smoke, ask your doctor for ways to help you quit.


The Allergy Season That Never Left

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this winter both spoiled and cheated us. I’m really OK with not having to scrape a foot of ice and snow off my windshield before dawn every morning. Washing the car, outdoors, in a light sweatshirt on New Year’s Day was pretty cool. On the other hand, I’ve never had to take my asthma medications past November. This year has been the worst that I can remember for all those irritants that leave me wheezing and sneezing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

 So, when Mother Nature decides not to help out with a big deep freeze, what then? Well, that’s when we want to turn our homes into little oases of easy breathing. And it just so happens that I know some folks who can make that happen.

 Did you know…

 A Home & Duct Performance Test can thoroughly evaluate your home’s comfort systems, and pinpoint the precise causes of problems. Whether your home has too much or too little humidity, hot or cold spots, a damp basement, or polluted air, the experts at Oliver can locate the problem and offer solutions to correct it. And if your utility bills are high (and whose aren’t these days?), the Oliver experts can make suggestions to correct that too.

 Once a Home & Duct Performance Test has been completed, and you have decided on a course of action, Oliver technicians are available to assist with heating, air conditioning, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, duct cleaning, plumbing, electrical services, and new installations. And with accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, and multiple Angie’s List Super Service Awards under their toolbelts, you can be sure that you’re getting the best of the best in whole-house service from Oliver Heating, Cooling, Plumbing, & Electrical.

 It’s what we do. And we’d love to show you how we can help in your home. So give us a call today at 1-800-522-4884.

Happy Friday everyone!

– Shanna