Top 10 Tips for Reducing Asthma and Allergy Triggers

Top 10 Tips for Reducing Asthma and Allergy Triggers

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the trees and plants are releasing allergy-fueled pollen bombs that trigger sniffling, sneezing, coughing, itchy, watery eyes, and certain inescapable insanity.

Isn’t summer fun?

If you are an allergy or asthma sufferer, it can be hard to get into the laid-back feel of the summer. However, there are some things you can do to reduce exposure to symptom-causing allergens and ensure a healthier, happier season.

  1. First, identify what is triggering your symptoms. If you’re unsure, schedule a visit with your doctor. They may refer you to an allergist who can determine the best test for your symptoms and help you identify the causes.
  2. During peak pollen season, reduce your exposure to the outdoors. This not only means avoiding pollen-infused nature when possible but keeping your windows closed to ensure the outside doesn’t come inside. Pollen can come in through screens and open windows, triggering symptoms even when you’re not enjoying the benefits of nature.
  3. Air seal your home. An open window, cracks, gaps, and holes in your home can add up to two square feet, making it easy for small particles (along with bugs and rodents!) to get into your home. The good news? Air sealing is easy and inexpensive. All you need is some caulk, foam, weatherstripping, and an eye to spot the trouble spots. Check out this blueprint for what to look for, and when you’re ready, learn just how easy it is here.
  4. Wash bedding regularly. Dust mites feed on skin cells and live in fabrics like bedding and carpets. They are a common allergen, and though microscopic, they can really impact your health. Wash your bedding in hot water regularly to reduce exposure and kill dust mites, including their nests.
  5. Vacuum and dust frequently. Allergens can settle on surfaces and in carpets and mattresses, so it’s important to vacuum and wipe down tables, countertops, and other surfaces that may collect particles.
  6. Use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters in vacuum cleaners, HVAC systems and air purifiers can trap allergens like pet dander, pollen, and dust mites – even some bacteria and viruses – and remove them from your living environment. HEPA filters in surface cleaners, like vacuums, and air filters in HVAC systems or air purifiers, can knock down both surface and airborne allergens.
  7. Replace filters regularly. Be sure to check your filters on a regular basis and have fresh, clean ones on hand to replace when needed. This will keep them working at their greatest capacity, allowing air flow but also trapping those symptom-causing particulates.
  8. Be cognizant of other triggers, like food (peanuts, lactose, eggs) or medication. Pay attention to when you feel your symptoms trigger and see if there are any patterns that might point to unexpected allergens.
  9. If you have asthma, pollen and other allergens can trigger it. Avoid smoking, like cigarettes, second-hand smoke, incense, and chemical-heavy cleaning solutions. Consider mixing your own cleaning solution with ingredients that won’t trigger symptoms. Check out some ideas here.
  10. There are many asthma-friendly certified household products. From flooring to cleaning products to bedding and beyond, and this certification website can help you find appropriate products that will help you breath better and be more comfortable in your own home.

With the right tools, additional cleaning, and air sealing your home, you can reduce your exposure to triggering allergens and start enjoying the summer season.

Summer Heat-Proofing: Energy Efficiency and a Cooler Home

With warmer weather upon us, tackling energy efficiency while keeping your home cool is a hot topic. In hot weather, you risk high energy bills due to overworking your A/C. However, there are a few things you can do to relieve the load on your A/C and your bank account and improve energy efficiency during the long, hot days of summer.

Insulate and Air Seal for a Cooler Home

The number one thing you should do to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to ensure your home is properly insulated. Without proper insulation, any efforts to cool your home are being thwarted by the pressure of outside heat. Insulating not only keeps the cooler air inside your home, it means your A/C works less. Conversely, insulating can keep warm air inside in the winter months too, reducing your heating load. Make sure attics and walls are insulated and that cracks, gaps, and holes are sealed, keeping air from escaping or letting warm air (and insects, pollen, and rodents) in. Air sealing is easy, inexpensive, and you can do it yourself. Learn what to look for here and how to install weather stripping here.

Use Shade to Keep Your Home Cool

Blocking the intense daytime sun is a great strategy for keeping the heat outside your home. Use curtains or other shade systems on your windows to keep the heat from entering the house. Consider shade sails or a covered pergola on the side of your home that is exposed to the most sunlight during the summer. 

Overhangs that provide shade on southern windows can reduce the sun’s impact in the summer, too. When done properly, these overhangs will shade the home in the summer, keeping out heat but allowing warming sunlight in during the winter when the sun is lower on the horizon. They can be a very effective way to passively cool and warm the home. In fact, according to, “Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows.” Their article has plenty of ideas for window coverings that can help keep your home comfortable. 

Reflective Surfaces

A reflective roof can keep your home cooler by repelling sun rays. If you’re in a year-round hot zone, a reflective or light-colored roof is a good idea. Painting the exterior of your house a lighter color can help reduce heat absorption, too. 

Moving Air Can Help Cool Your Home

Stagnant air heats up quicker and can feel uncomfortable and muggy. Fans and A/C are great ways to keep your interior spaces cool during the day.

While we always recommend sealing gaps and cracks to avoid unwanted thermal exchange and uncontrolled loss of energy, opening and closing windows can be a good tool to control your air temperature. If there is a significant drop in temperature at night, consider opening windows (with screens, of course, to keep out bugs and pests) and letting air blow across the home. Close them in the morning when the temperature starts rising to keep the cool air inside. Use your A/C or fans during the day when windows are closed and covered. 

Reverse Your Fan

In the warmer months, your fan should be moving in a counterclockwise position to push air downward and across the space.

To check to see what way your fan blades are rotating, stand under the fan while it’s running. If they are moving clockwise, you should reverse the direction. 

First, turn your fan off. Make sure the blades have come to a complete stop. Look at the motor housing (the center of the fan, below the blades) for the reversal switch. Toggle it in the opposite direction to get the fan to rotate counterclockwise. This will push air downward, moving it throughout the room. 

This Home Depot video shows you how to reverse your fan for 30% savings on your energy bills during the summer.

Avoid Heat-Emitting Appliances

Many of our appliances emit heat in the home, like dishwashers, dryers, ovens, and stoves. If you are interested in keeping your home cool and reducing the energy load needed to accomplish that, consider hang-drying your clothes. Dryers use heat to dry clothes, and in the summer months, the sun can just as effectively dry your clothes, too, without heating up your home. 

Cooking dinner is a similar activity that can heat up your home, but you don’t have to stick to cold meals. Consider grilling more. Grilling is not just for parties and family barbeques; it’s also a good way to avoid adding heat to your home in the summer, even on weekday nights. Avoid the stove and oven during the summer and keep the heat outside by doing your cooking with the grill. It’s a delicious solution.

Finding ways to keep cool air inside and hot air out during the summer makes your home more comfortable and energy efficient. A lot of these strategies can help reduce your electric bill and keep your home a few degrees cooler. It can save you expensive A/C repairs too, by reducing the stress you’re putting on your equipment, making it last longer and perform better. 

If you take some time before the heat hits to prep your home, you’ll stay cool and run on less electricity this summer. 

House Bugs? Inexpensive DIY Pest Control

Are you tired of cold weather? Looking forward to warmer temperatures and longer, sunny days? Well, so are the bugs! During spring and summer months, insect eggs are hatching, bugs are looking for food and mates, and laying even more eggs. They don’t just stick to nature, either. 

Summer is a prime time for bugs to want to hang out at your house.

Why Do I Have House Bugs?

Bugs are driven inside for a few reasons. For one, they are cold-blooded and can’t regulate their temperature. So, if it’s very warm outside, they’ll seek shade and cooler temperatures. That means they’re probably headed inside to bask in your air conditioning. 

Some bugs might be looking for safe places to lay eggs. That could mean standing water for mosquitoes or dark, undisturbed corners for spiders and cockroaches. (Yikes…)

They might also be drawn inside by smells from food. Trash, sinks, and countertops often have tiny bits of food that release odors that can attract bugs, like cockroaches, ants, and fruit flies.

Check out this list from House Method on reasons why bugs are drawn to homes to see why you might have house bugs.

Why House Bugs Are Bad

We live with nature, bugs and animals all around us, all the time. They contribute to a healthy ecosystem and circle of life. But, when they encroach on our personal space, it’s problematic.

Firstly, it’s unsightly and unsettling. You don’t want to share the breakfast nook with industrious ants carrying away yesterday’s muffin crumbs. You don’t want your guests to catch a cockroach skedaddling across the floor and disappearing under your refrigerator. And you certainly don’t want to wake up at night swiping at a spider that’s sharing your bed. (Big “no thanks,” right?)

But aside from the heebie-jeebies, there are actual health concerns with bugs in the home. Bugs and rodents can spread disease, and cockroaches and dust mites can trigger allergies and asthma. Even worse, some spider species or scorpions can be venomous and actually deliver life-threatening bites. 

And if you see one… (shudder) there are likely more. Especially bugs like stink bugs, cockroaches, fruit flies, and mosquitoes.

How You Can Prevent House Bugs

There is a simple way to keep bugs and pests out of your home and it isn’t heavily spraying questionable chemicals and pesticides – which can do just as much harm as good.

It’s air sealing! Air sealing prevents bugs and pests from entering your home in the first place. Air sealing targets the cracks, gaps, and holes that pests can use as superhighways to your super swanky hotel. By sealing where bugs can easily enter, you lock up the entrance.

That’s right. No vacancy, house bugs! Check the motel down the street.

Air sealing doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don’t need a pro. All you need is some caulk, weather stripping, and a couple hours on a Saturday. It’s inexpensive and totally worth it if you are experiencing a house bug problem. (And you know, those cracks and gaps that let bugs in can let rodents in too!)

There are a lot of additional benefits to air sealing, like healthier indoor air quality and less wasted energy. If you want to learn more before you commit to the easy, inexpensive and rewarding task of air sealing your home yourself, visit our FAQs.

Don’t know what to look for? No problem! We put together a nice little blueprint so you can take a look around your home and find common trouble spots.

But if you’re ready to take your house back, kick those freeloaders out, and experience a bug-free home, awesome! We’ll show you how right here.

Air Sealing for a Healthier Home

Do you often experience headaches, allergies, fatigue, or physical discomfort in your home? 

If you have a lot of health issues, your home may have something to do with it. A home with even tiny cracks, gaps, and holes can lead to drafts, allergens, rodents, bugs, and mold, which can all contribute to poor health.

So, what can you do about it? The answer might surprise you. Air sealing is a small project that can make a big difference in your home’s health and comfort, as well as reduce energy waste. And the good news is, you can easily air seal with just some caulk, spray foam, and weatherstripping. 


You’ve heard of avoiding drafts so you don’t catch a cold, right? Although there isn’t any solid evidence that drafts alone make you sick, it’s likely that drafts are associated with illnesses because they are also associated with cold weather. And rhinoviruses, like the common cold or flu, travel on air and best survive in colder temperatures.

So, when you air seal gaps and cracks that cause those drafts, it isn’t for the draft alone—although it will make your home more comfortable. It’s also to keep out the cold air that airborne illnesses love to travel on.


Have you ever seen the huge plumes of pollen that come from trees? There are plenty of videos out there to show this remarkable yellow dust storm, but here’s a great example

All that pollen floats on the wind and travels through the air. In fact, in the spring, if you keep your windows open, you might even see a light coating of dust on your surfaces, like countertops and tables. 

So, just keep your windows closed, right?

While that might stop some of it, pollen particles are super tiny and can find their way into your home through small cracks and gaps. And if you have allergies, you won’t be able to escape them by avoiding the outdoors.  

Pollen isn’t the only notable outdoor allergen that makes its way inside. Dust, mold spores, and pollution from traffic or industry can all make their way into an unsealed home. And they can initiate allergy symptoms, irritate sinuses, and cause a range of respiratory issues. 

Luckily, caulking around windows or weatherstripping doors can help seal up your home and ultimately improve the quality of your indoor air for better health.

Rodents and Bugs

Rodents and bugs, like cockroaches and flies, can carry a range of diseases and bacteria. Think salmonella, staphylococcus, streptococcus, E. Coli, and listeria. (Yuck!) Bugs and rats scavenge anything from crumbs to spilled food and even fecal matter (double yuck…). Plus, they crawl and climb with seemingly no limitations. They can transfer bacteria through their droppings, which can end up on food or in food preparation areas, like kitchen counters, plates, cutlery, and cutting boards. 

Although keeping your home clean is important, sometimes it isn’t enough to keep the bugs and rodents out—they’ll often find their way in when the indoor environment is preferable to the outdoors, due to moisture or temperature. And who can blame them?

That’s why we recommend air sealing gaps and holes so bugs, spiders, and even rodents can’t find their way inside.

Check out this video to see how easy it is!

Indoor Mold

If your home isn’t air sealed well, there is a great chance that humidity is building in certain places, causing chronic moisture that can lead to mold. 

That’s because the difference in air pressure between the inside of your home and outside causes air you don’t want (for instance, moist, unfiltered outdoor air) to move into your home through gaps and cracks. And where warm air meets cold air (which is common near gaps and unsealed spaces), moisture droplets can form. These cling to areas around gaps and holes and struggle to dry out, creating the ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow.

And that’s not ideal for you. Because this mold can cause major respiratory and health issues, such as sneezing, watery or gunky eyes, coughing and wheezing, headaches, fatigue, and bronchial issues. 

If you’re experiencing any of these types of symptoms, pay attention to mildew and mold smells, and try to find where they are coming from. Look around your home for cracks, gaps, and holes and air seal them. Air sealing might not be what the doctor prescribes, but it’s a commonly overlooked step toward better health and well-being. 

How to Air Seal Your Home Without the Mess

So, you’ve decided to air seal your home. That’s fantastic! You’re well on your way to reducing energy waste, eliminating drafts, keeping out pesky pests, and making your home healthier. All by just barely squeezing a finger (and we mean that literally).

Air leaks from tiny cracks and gaps in your home can add up to the equivalent of a two-square-foot hole, which is like leaving a window wide open in your home! Time to air seal, right?

Except, now you might be wondering: “How do I air seal without making a big ol’ mess?” 

You may have seen smears of caulk on window frames, large clumps of spray foam sticking out from gaps around old openings, or bulging caulk lines and drips and strings from poorly applied caulk. And you’re probably thinking you don’t want those unsightly air sealing messes around your home.

And we don’t blame you!

But here’s the thing — whoever applied that caulk or spray foam didn’t read this article. Because we’re going to share the top three tips that can help you avoid the most common air sealing messes. Air sealing is actually very easy, if you know what you’re doing, and we’re here to make sure you know what you’re doing. 

How Can I Make Expanding Foam Less Messy? 

Expanding foam, or spray foam, is the tool of choice when you find large gaps that need to be sealed. For instance, behind clothes washers, dryers, and where plumbing enters the home, you may find gaps that not only let air in and out but are also highways for bugs and critters. Expanding foam can put an end to that.

But here’s the thing with spray foam… it’s messy. It never leaves a smooth surface, and it’s kind of unpredictable. So how can we seal our homes without bubbling growths of foam everywhere? 

There is good news. Excess foam can be cut off easily. Use a razor blade, box cutter, or serrated knife to slice off any protruding foam. It still won’t look perfect and polished, but if the area is hidden (for instance, behind a dishwasher), you don’t have to worry much about aesthetics. You can even skip slicing the excess entirely, like in this helpful GIY video.  But, if the foam is exposed for everyone to see, you might want to neaten it up a bit more.

To do that, after slicing off the excess, you can sand it down until it’s smooth. We recommend a dust mask to avoid breathing in any dust. Or if the area is small enough and a bead (or line) of caulk could cover it, you can also add that on top of the foam, using your finger to smooth out the finish. This is best with cracks and lines but may be a bit messier with larger holes or gaps. 

You may also consider priming and painting the foam to match surrounding walls or surfaces. This is recommended if the foam will be exposed to sunlight.

Word of caution: Just because it’s a big gap doesn’t mean it’s a good place for expanding foam. Be sure it is not trapping heat in a small area, as this can be a fire hazard. Avoid breaker panels and recessed lighting fixtures.

Why Are My Caulk Lines So Messy?

Expanding foam isn’t the only mess-making air sealant. Have you tried to use a tube of caulk by itself without a caulk gun? Then you know all about zigzagging caulk lines, random bulges, and unruly caulk ending up in all sorts of places.

Who can work like that?

To avoid this type of caulky mess, skip the hand-squeezed tube, and get yourself a caulk gun and corresponding caulk tube. You’ll marvel at the wonder of a caulk gun as you effortlessly apply pressure to the bottom of the tube with the gentle squeeze of a trigger. Simply align the tip, gently press the trigger, and move the gun at a consistent pace (like putting toothpaste on a toothbrush!). You’ll get a consistent bead width all the way along the crack. 

Why Do I Have So Much Excess Caulk?

For new air sealing DIY-ers, excess caulk can be a problem. Usually, the cause is simple: The applicator hole size is too large. If you’ve cut too much of the tip off the applicator, it will discharge too much caulk at once, making the process messy and hard to clean up, even if you’re using a caulk gun.

To avoid this, start by cutting just the end of the tip of the caulk applicator, which will produce a small hole. Caulk your smallest cracks first. If you find it isn’t enough caulk for the larger cracks, then you can always cut off more of the applicator for a bigger hole and wider bead.  

Check out this video by This Old House and see how a small hole, a caulk gun, and a “handy” technique can do some beautiful work. (There are also caulk finishing tools made specifically for tidy application.) 

Air sealing may feel intimidating when you haven’t done it and don’t know what to expect. But hopefully, knowing just a couple tips can increase your confidence and encourage you to give it a try! These quick tips will make it go (and look!) a lot smoother. 

Yes, your home has bigger projects that you might need a contractor for, but this isn’t one of them. Keep that hiring-a-pro money in your pocket by tackling air sealing yourself. 

So go on! Seal it!

Home Winterizing Checklist

Pumpkin spice lattes. Vibrant, fiery leaves. Candy corn and bite-sized candy bars…fall has arrived and winter is on its way! Which means it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your home.

What is winterizing? It’s exactly what it sounds like: prepping your home for the colder weather. 

“But wait,” you say, “Isn’t winterizing just for people who have cabins and lake houses?” Actually, no. To avoid wasting energy and money from air leakage, every home should be winterized. 

Air leaks from tiny cracks and gaps in your home can add up to a two-square-foot hole in your home. It’s basically like having a window open 24/7!

In addition to reducing energy waste, you can also avoid those annoying drafts and pesky insects and bugs that rush into your home as the weather gets cooler—air sealing can keep them out.

In a few quick steps, you can make your home healthier, cozier, and more efficient during the cold season. So, before you dust off your boots, sweaters, and scarves, let’s winterize!

Change air filters and clean vents

If you haven’t run your heating system in a while, it’s a good idea to check your ducts, clean your air filters, and vacuum or sweep out openings. This ensures you aren’t blowing extra dust and allergens around that can wreak havoc on your immune system during cold season.

Clean your gutters and roof

Gutters tend to fill up in the fall with leaves and debris. You should always keep your gutters clean because packed gutters can lead to water damage. In the winter, ice blocks can damage your gutters, siding, shingles, and roof. So be sure to clean them out before the cold weather comes. Consider leaf guards for your gutters, too, to prevent a buildup of debris.

Clean your chimney

If you haven’t used your chimney in a while, it’s a good idea to check and make sure no one else has! On top of looking for critters and their homes, look for soot and cracks and any anomalies. Call a chimney pro if something looks off.

Reverse the direction of your fans

Most fans have a switch to reverse the direction of airflow. Because warm air rises, this can be helpful in the winter to push warm air back down.

Look for light coming in between the door and frame

Do you see little slivers of light around your door? Then you should get some weatherstripping! This is a common air leak space that can exchange air quickly, making it hard to keep your home heated. There are several types of weatherstripping for doors. Check out this video from This Old House for a quick introduction.

Check all your windows. Do you feel a draft when they are closed?

If you feel cold drafts around your windows, even when they are fully closed, there are many options for tightening them up. A simple step is to be sure you lock your windows, which tightens up the space between top and bottom sashes and the frame. You also might need to caulk around the window frame or use weatherstripping to ensure they seal well. Watch this video from This Old House for ideas on how to make your windows more energy efficient and keep in the heat during the colder months. 

Change out your curtains

If you have been using light, airy curtains during the warmer weather, consider switching them out for heavier ones. This can help trap heat indoors, meaning less heat is transferred through your window glass.

Speaking of windows again… do you have storm windows?

Windows lose far more heat than walls, so they’re an important piece of ensuring your home stays warm during cooler months. Another recommendation to keep heat in and avoid wasting energy is removing screens (if you have them) and replacing them with storm windows. The double panes trap air, which acts as a layer of insulation, keeping heat in and cold air out.

Check behind appliances

When was the last time you moved your dishwasher, range, or dryer and peeked at what’s behind? If it’s been a while, don’t worry—that’s common. But here’s why you should change that: This often-overlooked space can contribute to drafts and heat loss and even bugs and critters. That’s because there are often unsealed gaps in these spaces where plumbing and more go through the walls. Expanding foam is a great tool to seal up larger gaps and ensure that air, bugs, and critters can’t get in during the winter months. 

There are many simple things you can do to prepare your home for winter. Start with this checklist, and you’ll be on your way to a cozy, comfortable winter. To learn a little more about where air might be coming in during the winter months, and how to fix it, check out this video from This Old House

And then go winterize, save some energy, and create a happy, healthy and cozy home!