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Handling Allergens in Your West Texas Home Can Lead to Improved Indoor Air Quality

Take a stand against mold and other indoor allergens.If you or a member of your West Texas household struggles with allergies, you understand the misery of the symptoms that never really seem to improve, even with fists full of medication. The most common household allergy triggers are pets, dust and mold. Handling allergens at their source is the most effective way to alleviate allergy symptoms. 

Pet Allergies

Fifteen percent of Americans are allergic to their pets. Dogs and cats produce a protein in their sebaceous glands that can trigger severe allergy attacks. This protein is found in animals' skin, urine and saliva. When animals lick their fur, this very sticky protein sticks to it, and every one of the seemingly million hairs and skin cells they shed contains this allergen. 

Well-meaning allergists often recommend getting rid of Fido or Mr. Whiskers, but for most pet owners, that's like suggesting they ship their toddler off to an orphanage to provide some relief from temper tantrums: It's just not an option. So keep your pets, and use these tips for handling allergens they produce:

  • Bathe your pet every week. Use a mild cat shampoo or an oatmeal-based dog shampoo. If someone in your household who doesn't suffer from allergies can do this chore, let them.
  • Brush your pet outside every day. Again, it's better if someone else does this task. 
  • Train pets to stay off the furniture. If you can't teach an old dog new tricks, put a towel over his favorite spot on the couch and wash the towel often. 
  • Vacuum weekly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter. Don't forget the upholstery. 
  • Keep the cat's litter box in a remote location and clean it daily. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after petting your animal.
  • Wash the cat or dog's bedding and toys in hot water every week.
  • Feed your animal a balanced diet that includes natural fats. This will help keep their skin hydrated and reduce the amount of fur and dander they shed.
  • Keep bedrooms strictly off-limits to pets. 
  • Replace the HVAC air filter when it's dirty.
  • Consider installing a whole-house air cleaner in your duct system to trap far more allergens than an HVAC filter alone can catch. 

Mold Allergies

Mold spores are potent allergens. Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, organic material and heat. Preventing mold growth will considerably reduce your allergy symptoms.

  • Ventilate the attic. Attics are hot and humid, and have plenty of organic material to encourage mold growth. 
  • Turn on the kitchen vent when you cook and the bathroom vent when you bathe to help remove moisture from these rooms.
  • Thoroughly dry water damage in the home within 24 hours.
  • Repair leaky faucets immediately.
  • Install UV lights in your HVAC system to kill mold spores and other organic allergens that pass through the air ducts.
  • Use portable dehumidifiers or install a whole-house system to prevent mold growth during periods of high humidity. 

Dust Allergies

Dust bunnies sound cute, but their contents are anything but. Dust is comprised of a large number of allergens, including human and animal dander and highly allergenic dust mites. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells, and their saliva, body parts and droppings can trigger severe allergy attacks. Your bed alone may contain up to 10 million of these microscopic arachnids, each of which excretes 20 droppings a day. Handling allergens in dust is a matter of controlling the dust in your home.

  • Vacuum thoroughly each week with a vacuum cleaner that contains a HEPA filter.
  • Turn the thermostat to FAN ON while you vacuum, and leave it on for 15 minutes when you're done so that your HVAC system can trap particles sent airborne by the vacuum's exhaust.
  • Dust weekly with an electrostatic cloth.
  • Keep your home's humidity in the 30 to 50 percent range to discourage dust mites, which thrive on moist conditions.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water, and install allergy-proof cases on pillows and mattresses.
  • Check the HVAC air filter, preferably one with a mid to high MERV rating, every month and replace it with a clean one when it's dirty. 
  • Use portable air cleaners or a whole-house filtration system to remove dust before it settles.

For more expert advice about handling allergens to improve your indoor air quality and ease allergy symptoms, please contact us at Texas Air Comfort to find a West Texas contractor near you. 

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