For many people, allergy season comes once, maybe twice, a year. During the spring, flowers and trees release pollen that triggers congestion or a runny nose. During the fall, grasses and weeds do the same.

But Florida’s warm, humid climate allows allergens to flourish throughout the year, and ragweed, mold, and other allergens can cause coughs, sneezes, hives, and watery eyes.

Fortunately, when you follow these simple steps, you can remove allergens from your home and significantly reduce your symptoms.

1. Replace Your Air Filter to Remove Ragweed

Ragweed, also known as white top or carrot weed, is one of the most invasive and prolific weeds in Florida. This plant can easily produce up to 30,000 seeds, and during its peak season, it can trigger asthma, eye irritation, and even bronchitis.

Ragweed can hitch a ride on your clothing and shoes whenever you go outside. As a result, you can’t keep ragweed pollen out of your home. However, you can control how much pollen circulates in the air by replacing your air filter at least every other month, or more often if you are particularly sensitive to allergens.

When you shop for an air filter, choose a HEPA-rated air filter with a MERV rating between 7 and 12 to effectively catch ragweed pollen. Although filters with even higher MERV ratings are available, these products create more airflow resistance, increasing the likelihood of damage to your HVAC system.

2. Install a UV Light to Fight Mold

Experts have identified over 100,000 types of mold. Although many molds are harmless, a few species release spores that can cause nasal stuffiness, wheezing, and eye irritation. Those with serious reactions to mold may suffer from fever, difficulty breathing, and obstructive lung disease.

Mold thrives in damp, dusty environments, so you shouldn’t be surprised to discover that you may have mold in your air ducts. Temperature fluctuations and leaks can leave condensation in your ducts, and when that moisture buildup meets the dust and spores, you can bet that mold won’t take long to grow.

While a quality air filter can trap circulating air spores, it can’t kill the mold growing in your home. If you suffer from mold allergies, hire an expert to install a continuous air purification system. This device works in conjunction with your filter, shining a UV light on any spores, bacteria, and viruses that the filter traps. The light sterilizes potential allergens so they can’t grow or breed.

3. Clean Your Ducts to Eliminate Dust

Dust consists of an assortment of tiny particles, including dead skin cells, insect waste, animal dander, and sand. These small particulates provide the perfect food source for dust mites, which secrete waste that triggers allergy symptoms in over 20 million American adults.

If you regularly replace your air filter and install a continuous air purification system, you can remove much of the dust that currently circulates in your home. However, these systems lack the power to effectively eliminate old dust and debris currently caked to your ducts. If you ignore your dirty ductwork, you may still suffer allergies despite efforts to tidy the rest of your home.

To keep the sniffles and sneezes at bay, talk to an HVAC technician about duct cleaning. A professional can remove any lingering dust from your supply registers and ducts as well as point out any leaks that would decrease your home’s energy efficiency.

4. Invest in an Air Purifier to Trap Pollutants and Chemicals

In an attempt to rid your home of allergens, you may depend on a variety of cleaning chemicals. You might scrub, polish, and disinfect the surfaces of your home to ensure pollen, mold, and dust never have a chance to settle. But did you know that the products you use to clean your home could actually worsen your allergy symptoms?

Ammonia, formaldehyde, sodium hypochlorite, and D-limonene could all contribute to congestion, asthma attacks, and skin rashes. And many of these chemicals don’t reach your loftier air ducts, so your air filter can’t effectively trap them.

If you want to enjoy cleaner air, consider a separate air purifier that rests on ground level. HEPA air purifiers, electrostatic air purifiers, and air ionizers can remove pollutants and chemicals as small as 0.3 microns.

Keep in mind that these products work best in an enclosed room, so you may need to purchase several to ensure whole-house filtration.

Breathe Easy This Winter

When allergens seem their worst this year, your home can become the perfect sniffle-free haven. With just a few investments and adjustments on your part, you can cut circulating allergens and even improve your home’s energy efficiency.

However, if you suffer from particularly bad allergic reactions, feel free to talk to your HVAC technician. The right technician can recommend additional ways to improve your home’s air quality and keep your symptoms under control.