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How to Reduce and Prevent Dust Mites from Impacting your Indoor Air Quality

How to Reduce and Prevent Dust Mites from Impacting your Indoor Air Quality

Fire & Ice is a top-rated HVAC company in the Columbus area that focuses on providing top-notch quality in all aspects of your heating and air conditioning equipment in your home.

About This Article

In this article, we explain what dust mites actually are and steps you can take to prevent them from gathering in your home as well as products and services to keep them from coming back.

Are your allergy symptoms making your life uncomfortable?

If you are sneezing or having allergy symptoms inside your own home, you might have heard the words dust mites pop up while searching for the cause of your allergies.

Or maybe you’re just looking to improve your indoor air quality and prevent any issues.

Whatever the reason, at Fire & Ice, we’ve answered questions from thousands of customers concerned about dust mites and are looking to prevent them from accumulating inside their homes.

First, it’s essential to establish what dust mites are and what they are not.

What are Dust Mites?

Dust mites, which are relatives of ticks and spiders, are tiny bugs that are impossible to see without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells shed by people. They thrive in warm and humid environments. In your home, items like bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites to breed and thrive.

Dust mites are one of the leading causes of indoor allergies.

What Symptoms can Dust Mites Cause?

The dust and dust mites cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. Mold, pollen, and pet hair can also trigger indoor allergies.

Preventing Dust Mites

However, there are some steps you can take to prevent dust mites from gathering in your home.

Keep the house clean

Developing a regular cleaning schedule is essential to reducing dust mites and irritants in your home that can be brought in from the outside, such as pollen. Cleaning and changing bedding every week can also keep dust mites and particles from developing on these items. Especially if you have carpet, dust can stay trapped inside the fibers more than hard flooring. Regular cleaning should help with this issue.

Keep the dust out

This is the best preventive measure when it comes to reducing dust in the home. One way is to remove your shoes whenever you come in from the outside. Use floor mats at entryways to encourage guests to take their shoes off. The mats also trap dirt and debris. If you feel your home has an insect infiltration, say cockroaches, hire an exterminator for pest control.

Change HVAC filters

This is something we repeat pretty frequently here at Fire and Ice. The filters are there to remove dust, grime, and debris from the air before spreading around your home. A dirty or clogged air filter will make your indoor air quality worse.

Upgrading Filter Type

 Do you know the MERV rating of your filter? If not, you might want to switch to a better quality filter with a higher MERV rating. The MERV rating system starts with one at the lowest and goes up to 16. A 13-16 rated filter is perfect for grabbing allergen particles. Filters like our Aprilaire 1210 and Aprilaire 1310 are great options. The Aprilaire 1210 and 1310 are a MERV of 16.

Specific designs with a criss-cross pattern will also restrict airflow and create issues because they don’t allow air to flow through them as easily. In addition, some cheaper filters are made with cardboard, which can limit airflow.

Density is also critical when considering a filter. For example, a four-inch filter, also known as a media filter, will perform better against odors and particles than a standard one-inch filter. On the other hand, a high MERV-rated filter with an above one-inch density will restrict airflow and cause more static pressure.

Static pressure happens when the filter has resistance to airflow and includes heating and cooling equipment and ductwork. Debris-packed filters are frequently a cause of static pressure.

HVAC maintenance

This is essential to keep your HVAC unit working efficiently and improves air quality. Preventive maintenance includes cleaning your HVAC systems to keep the dirt and grime from affecting your seasonal indoor air quality.

Some services can help reduce dust mites and allergens in the air inside your home.

Products and Services That Can Help Reduce Dust Mites

Air purifiers

Aprilaire air purifiers trap damaging particles common in most homes to reduce mold, bacteria, pollen, asthma, allergy triggers, pet dander, and viruses. Unlike air purifiers that only work when your heating and cooling system runs, Event-Based Air Cleaning from Aprilaire lets you call the shots. You control when and how the air purifier works based on day-to-day events, conditions, and activities.

Air Duct Cleaning

The Importance of Home Air Ducts

Air ducts are the conduits that supply warm or cool air to heat, cool, and vent the rooms in your house. Having those cleaned can help remove the dust from your air ducts that accumulate dust, mold, and debris, especially in older houses. This dust interferes with your breathing, can cause allergic reactions, and damages your HVAC system causing parts to go bad faster.

According to the EPA, indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases, those levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants. In other words, sometimes, the air inside can be far more harmful than the air outside.

At Fire & Ice, our air duct cleaning services are here to help you achieve a cleaner and healthier home, free from dust mites.

How Does a Duct Cleaning Work?

During our duct cleaning, we take a truck-mounted vacuum system with a capability of 12,000 cfm (cubic feet per minute) and use it to clean your ducts. Most portable vacuums have a cfm of 5,000, which means a lot less debris will be left behind. Companies that offer air duct cleaning will also be able to use various agitator tools to loosen the debris inside of your ductwork that is not accessible to the everyday homeowner. At Fire & Ice, we also take the time to blow out your furnace. There can also be dust or debris hiding there that can impact the performance of your system.

Upon request, we also spray a sanitizer inside your ductwork to kill the germs and bacteria that can be left behind after the duct cleaning is completed. The chemicals will kill 99.99% of the bacteria that are growing inside.

We have an organic spray that is environmentally friendly, and we have a chemical spray that is used only in extreme cases. If the customer doesn’t want to use it, we don’t. For a more in-depth look at the chemicals we can use during duct cleaning, we recommend you read our article on air duct disinfectants here.

Depending on how large your system is, the entire process can take a few hours or a whole day.

How Often Should I Have My Ducts Cleaned?

We recommend having your air ducts cleaned once every three to five years. If you have pets, smoke, or have lots of kids or family members living in your home, having your ducts cleaned every one to three years would be recommended. If you just purchased a new house, finished building a new house, or added to your existing home, it would also be an excellent time to have a duct cleaning completed.

Whole-Home Dehumidifiers

The dehumidification of a home can also substantially help with dust mite prevention. The ideal home humidity level should be at 50%. If it is too high, high moisture levels create perfect conditions for mold growth, allergens, musty odors, and mildew, leading to unhealthy air in your home. At Fire & Ice, we install whole-home dehumidifiers more effective than the stand-alone single-room ones you can purchase at a store.

There are two methods of installation for a whole-home dehumidifier:

Ducted to Existing Heating and Cooling Ductwork Method

The preferred method would be to duct a dehumidifier into the existing heating and cooling system’s ductwork.

This method would be for installations where the furnace or air handling equipment is installed in the basement, attic, or crawl space. The air inlets and outlets of the dehumidifier would be directly ducted to the ductwork of those pieces of equipment.

This method is the most efficient way to remove the high humidity levels throughout the home. However, this type of installation typically has a higher cost for the initial install, ~$2700 and up.

Standalone Method

The other method of installation is freestanding installation or non-ducted installation. One of the advantages of this installation type is that you can unplug the unit from the electric receptacle and take it with you if you ever move. This cannot be done with the ducted unit since it is permanently attached to the heating and cooling system as a fixture. It also costs less to install, starting at approximately $2,100.

Lastly, you can control your dehumidifier using the onboard control panel, a remote dehumidifier control, or a digital thermostat to fit your needs and lifestyle.

Act Now to Mitigate the Risk of Dust Mites

Dust mites can pose a considerable risk to you and your family members. Whether that’s causing allergy symptoms or just causing the air in your home not to be as clean, it can be harmful. At Fire & Ice, we understand the risk dust mites and other allergens can pose to you and your family and are here to help answer your questions about whether you’re ready to have a duct cleaning or are looking to prevent any issues. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, or the surrounding areas, check to see if we are in your area using the zip code map below.

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