March 17, 2013
April 13, 2013
March 17, 2013
April 13, 2013

Renovations for the Allergy Sufferers

Spring is officially here! Okay, for most people spring is an exciting time where, here in Edmonton, we start to see plus temperatures and a lot more sunlight. For some, however, the onset of Spring is a nightmare. With Spring comes allergy season, and with allergy season comes sneezing, stuffiness, aching, and for some, missed days at work and extra expenses on medication in attempts to keep allergies at bay. Surprisingly, 1 in 6 Canadians suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis and 8% of Canadians over age 12 have been diagnosed with asthma. There are changes that you can make to you home, however, that can potentially help you avoid the worst of allergy season, and keep you and your family a little healthier all year round. Here are a few renovation tips for you allergy sufferers.

Find out what you’re allergic to before doing any renovations

This seems pretty basic, but a lot of people will go through allergy season after allergy season without ever finding out what they’re allergic to. If you happen to be allergic to a dog, and you have a dog in your house, no amount of renovations or cleaning is going to change your situation. Likewise, allergies to pollen or common house dust might mean more effort to remove the offending allergen, rather than renovating to ease your symptoms. If you are allergic to dust, keep in mind that if you are planning any renovation, you should let your contractor know. They can take extra precautions to keep the dust down.

Get rid of the carpets and say hello to hardwood and tile

Anyone with severe allergies will tell you that carpet is terrible for collecting allergens. Even with a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA air filter, keeping the carpet allergen-free means vacuuming very frequently. If any allergens have collected in you carpet, they can be released into the air just by walking on it. A better choice for flooring is hard surface flooring. No carpet fibers means that hardwood floors and tile will help you to breathe easier.

Make sure your HVAC can handle a HEPA furnace filter

Before you go out and spend money on upgrading your furnace filters to HEPA filters, be aware that not all HVAC can handle the different filters. Some older furnaces don’t have the fan or motor capacity or the duct work wouldn’t be able to accommodate such filters. The HVAC system might require some modification in order to use different filters, something best left to professionals. The point is, you should check to see if the filter you purchase is compatible with your furnace system.

Your bathroom should be looked at

The bathroom is a great place for allergens to hang out. If there are any leaks in an around your shower, bathtub, sink, or toilet, mould has an opportunity to grow. Mould feeds on anything organic, and if left to its own devices, can produce spores, when airborne, can give people allergy problems. Unfortunately for us, here in Edmonton, a lot of the materials that typically go into a bathroom or organic. The framing is made of wood, the drywall has paper, and even some adhesives used in construction contain organic material. If the wrong materials are used, mould can become a problem.

Even if the correct materials are used, mould can still be an issue if the materials are installed incorrectly. A common belief among homeowners is that tile is waterproof, and as long as you bathtub surround is tiled, you won’t have any mould or rot. The truth is that tile alone will not waterproof you tub or shower area. It’s the other elements in your shower that create a waterproofing system.

As final note on bathrooms, even if the right materials are used and installed correctly, mould can still develop. When we shower, we are removing old skin tissue, which, guess what…is organic. Cleaning you bathroom frequently will help prevent mould growth.

Go Hard or Go Home

Most hard surfaces are great at keeping allergens to a minimum. Corian and quartz countertops as well as metal surfaces are easy to keep clean and don’t have pores that can give bacteria and mould a place to grow. One surface that can be a problem, however, is granite. Although granite is all the rage in countertops, it has to be treated regularly in order for it to stay bacteria and mould free. Granite is porous. If you’re okay with a strict cleaning and sealing schedule, then go for a nice granite coutertop. If you’re worried about allergens, maybe a different material would be a better choice.

Clean, clean, clean

It goes without saying that keeping your house clean will help a lot if you suffer from allergies. Kitchens and bathrooms, of course, require an extra bit of care, as well as the nooks and crannies that don’t get a lot of traffic. By taking a bit of time to do some clean up, you’ll notice the difference in the severity of your allergies.

If you’re in the Greater Edmonton area and are looking for a contractor for you renovation project, visit our website at to find information on how to contact us. We’d be happy to speak to you about what we can do to get the ball rolling on your next home or office project. You can also leave comments with us at

Michael Breault is a project coordinator for Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at You can also find Michael and Nord Atla Construction on facebook at, on twitter at, and on LinkedIn.

Robert Breault is the president and owner of Nord Alta Construction. You can find the company website at You can also find Robert and Nord Alta Construction on facebook at and on LinkedIn.