The benefits of pet ownership are immeasurable: lower stress levels, less likelihood of heart attacks, increased fitness, reduced depression. The list goes on and on!
But there is a dark side: allergies. Approximately 10% of people have some sort of pet allergy, two-thirds of which are cat allergies. These unfortunate souls have to deal with runny noses, itchy eyes, bothersome sneezing fits, rashes, breathing problems and swollen nasal membranes. A pet allergy is an immune response to a protein found in urine, saliva and the skin of cats and dogs. This protein is discharged into the air when pets shed, releasing dander (dead skin cells). While some breeds are more likely to cause an allergic reaction, there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic cat or dog.
Even with no allergies, pet owners should make sure to replace furnace filters more frequently as pet hairs and other contaminants can gather in the filter, clogging it faster and gathering in your duct-work. For allergy situations, mechanical system modifications can go a long way to alleviate some of the issues associated with pet allergies. Typical HVAC filters are capable of removing particles down to 3 microns in size, depending on its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters were developed by military scientists to remove radioactive particles from the air. Since then, they’ve gone through development and entered the mainstream market for the benefit of us ordinary folk. These HEPA Filters are capable of removing 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. This includes pet dander at 2.5 microns!
In addition to changing your filter type to HEPA, adding an air purifier to a home goes the extra mile in removing small particles like pet dander. Keep in mind this is no replacement for proper filtration in your furnace, only a supplement. More frequent duct cleaning will also reduce allergens and pet hair recirculation in a home. Increased ventilation replaces stale indoor air (full of pet dander) with fresh outdoor air. Whereas a washroom exhaust fan or two might be enough for the typical home, installing a ventilator or having an outdoor air intake duct might be necessary for pet owners.
Have dogs, cats or allergies? Give Applewood a call and we can get your HVAC system pet-owner friendly in no time. Now that’s something to really wag your tail about!