Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Brian Stewart
For many people, fall allergies cause more suffering than spring allergies. Running noses, itching watery eyes, and hard sneezing often leave people miserable and exhausted. These symptoms can really take a toll on health and leave the body weakened and susceptible to other problems. Why? What happens during the fall?
The answer, in a word, is ragweed. Most years in the St. Louis area, ragweed pollen begins to fill the air in late August and runs through September and into October. For those who are allergic to ragweed, September can be the height of misery.
Common advice to fight allergies of this kind is to stay indoors as much as possible, frequently change the filter on your heating and cooling equipment, and use appropriate medications.
Staying indoors can be helpful but only if the air inside your home contains less pollen than the air outside. Frequently changing your air filter can help but a better way is to keep as much pollen as possible outdoors by stopping it from entering your home in the first place.
Air flows in and out of all homes. This airflow is called ventilation and a certain amount is needed for health and safety. The needed amount is called the Building Airflow Standard (BAS).
Any home with less than 70% of the BAS is referred to as “too tight”. Homes that are too tight can be unhealthy because carbon monoxide, other harmful gasses, moisture, and even just bad odors are trapped inside.
Homes with ventilation greater than the BAS are referred to as “leaky”. Leaky homes have too much outside air pulled in and then leaking out. Excessive ventilation continuously pulls ragweed pollen into the home and aggravates fall allergies.
For leaky homes, a process called air sealing can reduce the excess ventilation to at or near the BAS and provide considerable relief to allergy sufferers. The lowered amount of ventilation reduces the amount of pollen being pulled into the home.
Air sealing is usually performed at the top of a house (think attic) and at the bottom of the house (think basement or crawl space). Sealing areas in the middle of the home (think windows and doors) does not have much effect.
How do we know whether our homes have the right amount of ventilation, too much ventilation, or too little? The answer is to have a blower door test.
A person who performs a blower door test will first calculate the BAS for the home, then use a blower door to measure the actual amount of ventilation, and finally compare the two to determine whether the home is too tight, too leaky, or just right. If the home is too leaky, then air sealing may help reduce allergy symptoms not only in the fall, but all year round. Air sealing will also make the home more energy efficient and comfortable.
Anywhere in the St. Louis area, Dr. Energy Saver can conduct a blower door test at your home (at no charge) and then, if appropriate, give you a free estimate of the cost to air seal your home. Give us a call at 1-888-288-1600 or visit us at www.DREnergySaverSTL.com to schedule your appointment now and stop sniffling.