MacGyvering an allergy filter

I’ve been hiding out a bit the past month or so, feeling kind of lousy but not sure why. At first I thought it was a cold, then I thought perhaps a sinus infection, and gradually as it refused to go away, I realized it is once again my long-time nemesis Mr. Allergy.

It’s pretty much been since moving back to California ten years ago that I’ve had these lousy allergies, which perhaps explains why when I was a kid and living here I was sick so much. Although admittedly, when we moved up to Washington I was still pretty sick, and allergy shots for years seemed to largely help that. Hey, that makes sense.

Anyway, lately I’ve been feeling lousy, having a hard time sleeping due to sniffling and coughing, etc. My Claritin regime occasionally quits working (body gets used to it) and I have to go cold-turkey for awhile to reboot. So I needed to spend a week off the good drugs.

I remembered vaguely, about six or seven years ago, I had tried something wacky which seemed to work well. So I gave it another shot. It’s the MacGyver solution to expensive allergy HEPA filters.

I have an old 20″x20″ box fan that I got at Home Depot years ago for $20 or something. Typically here in San Francisco it doesn’t get hot enough to worry about pulling it out of the closet (the past few weeks notwithstanding). Houses don’t have central air conditioning in San Francisco since we generally have pretty good air flow here and the temperatures don’t get too crazy very often. So I scrounged the fan out of the closet again, and took a trip to Home Depot.

Interestingly, air filters for home air conditioning systems come in a variety of sizes – one of which is 20″x20″. Hey hey. 🙂 For $20 you can get a pretty darn awesome “allergen reduction” air filter. There are various types and brands, and Home Depot tries to rate them with a “Filter Performance Rating” system where a higher number equals better. Get a 9 or 10 if you can.

You know what happens next. Bring home filter, duct tape to fan, turn on. I have been completely amazed at the results. I literally spent the entire week I was off Claritin in the house with this fan on. I breathed well, I slept well – a pleasant change. Okay, once in awhile I had to go find some food, and I would rapidly notice my body react to the outdoor air.

I’m not sure what’s in the air right now, maybe ragweed? But whatever it is, my body doesn’t like it. I’m back on Claritin now, and it’s helping again, but I’m in love with this hacked allergen filter. The only thing dismaying about it is that it is starting to look pretty disgusting with grime, which makes me wonder what I’ve been breathing in here the past few years. Ah well.

Highly recommended! And here are a couple others that agree. Including graphs. 🙂