Good indoor air quality is important. In environments with poor indoor air quality, people may suffer from allergies and breathing problems. Winter is a time when indoor air quality may be especially poor because windows stay shut and fresh air cannot enter the home. Here’s what you need to know about improving your indoor air quality at this cold time of year.
1. Use Kitchen Vents
Especially around the holidays, winter is a time of year when a lot of cooking happens in the kitchen. When food burns, smoky air in the kitchen can exacerbate asthma and allergies. Turn on vents whenever necessary to keep the air in the kitchen clean and fresh. If your vents aren’t working, open windows and have the vents serviced as quickly as possible.
2. Change the Air Filters
The air filters in your home’s HVAC system help keep the HVAC system clean and can prevent dust from building up in the ducts. Air filters need to be replaced every few months or more often if people in your home suffer from allergies. Check your air filter to see if it’s dirty, and replace it if it is. Once you’ve replaced it, mark your calendar a month from now to check it again. If your home’s indoor air quality seems particularly poor, switch to a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. HEPA filters trap particles as small as 0.3 microns and can play a big role in trapping particles that float around the air in your home.
3. Change Bedding
Bedding harbors dust mites and particles that can float around in the air while you sleep. You’ll breathe in these dust mites while you’re sleeping, and any time you put something on the bed, dust particles will fly into the air. Changing bedding on a regular basis can help keep your bedding clean and improve your home’s indoor air quality. If you’re having guests during the holiday season, change the bedding before the guests arrive.
4. Clean Your Shower Curtains
Shower curtains harbor fungus and mold spores, which can circulate through the air, especially in your bathroom. Wash your shower curtains monthly to kill the bacteria, and run the vents in your bathroom to eliminate mold spores that might be trapped in the air.
5. Have Your Chimney Cleaned and Serviced
Wood smoke can have a dramatic impact on indoor air quality, but at this time of year, many people like to burn fires in their fireplace. Before you begin to light fires to warm your home, have your chimney cleaned and serviced. Your chimney cleaning contractor can ensure that your chimney gets good airflow. Once the chimney cleaning person has come and gone, check the flu before lighting a fire. If your chimney cleaning person left the flu closed when he or she left, then open the flu before lighting a fire.
6. Switch to Natural Cleaning Products
Chemical cleaning products leave an odor and fill the home with chemical particles that are then breathed in. Many harsh chemicals contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are responsible for poor indoor air quality in the home and can cause respiratory problems. Whenever possible, use natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar to clean your home. If you must use commercial cleaning products, check with the EPA to be sure that the cleaning product is recommended for indoor use. Even cleaning products labeled “green” and “natural” can contain VOCs, so do research before using a cleaning product indoors.
7. Buy an Air Purifier
Air purifiers remove odors, smoke, and biological contaminants in the home. Have an air purifier installed in your home by an HVAC professional. Multiple types of air purifiers are on the market, and your HVAC professional can help you decide which type is best for you.
8. Check Humidity, and Run a Humidifier
Humidity levels in the home should be between 35 and 50 percent, but during the winter, humidity can drop. When this happens, skin becomes dry and dry skin flakes will become a problem in the home. Low humidity can also leave all the dust particles in the home even drier than normal, which means they’ll fly through the air more easily. Running a humidifier can help control the humidity levels in your home. First, use a hygrometer to test the humidity levels in your home. If they fall below 35 percent, then talk to an HVAC professional to have a humidifier installed in your home. Your HVAC professional can also help you use the humidifier properly to ensure that your home is not too moist inside. For more information about how you can improve your home’s indoor air quality this winter, contact our knowledgeable team at Magnolia Plumbing, Heating & Cooling today. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.