I tried to keep a clean room

Until recently, I have always lived in houses, never an apartment.  From birth until college, my parents owned a two-story four bedroom home up north that I grew up in.  When I entered university, a few friends of mine decided to pool our money together and rent out a cheap house near the school.  We did that every year for four years until we all graduated and went off to separate graduate schools. I repeated the same thing in grad school with a new group of roommates.  Now that I have my PhD and finally landed a job, I was forced to move to a small apartment until I can save enough money to rent out a house. Besides, it doesn’t make much sense for a single guy to rent a three bedroom house if he doesn’t even have pets or a partner to share it with.  I figured that there would be some definite changes, but most of this I chalked up to losing extra space, having to downsize, and just dealing with so many neighbors at any given time of the day. I didn’t expect the change in how the heating and cooling system is set up and installed. In all of the houses I have ever lived in, all of them had the air return for the HVAC system in the ceiling above connected via ducts to the air handler, which was in a different location in each home.  With my apartment, my air handler is in a closet and the return is literally an opening underneath the machine that connects to a square hole in the wall with metal grates that house your AC filter. Unfortunately, that means my air return is directly next to my floor. I didn’t think this would be an issue until summer hit and the heat waves and afternoon thunderstorms dropped the humidity outside and brought with it all sorts of indoor air contaminants. It seems like I’m tracking in dirt, pollen, dust, and mold every time I walk in from outside.  I’m considering buying a new air handler if I can’t move soon, because my breathing is starting to get affected from the setup. I understand the constraints that smaller spaces put on home appliances, but it just seems counterintuitive in every conceivable way to put an return right off your floor. Most people don’t even take their shoes off when they walk indoors!

air conditioning system