Winter makes indoor air quality much more apparent due to the increased time spend indoors and reduced ventilation from closed windows and improved air sealing and insulation.
Trapping air will lead to unhealthy conditions, which is why it’s important to have ventilation and other systems in place to refresh your air and improve indoor air quality.
In addition to air sealing and insulation improvements, indoor air pollution tends to get worse in winter for the following reasons:
Do you feel better or worse after you return to the building? Learn how to tell if you unhealthy indoor air quality by checking for these IAQ warning signs.
Luckily, there are many ways to improve your indoor air quality this winter and year-round.
We understand that pets are often part of the family and need to be indoors when the weather is bad. If your pet lives with you in the home, at least keep them away from the bedroom, sleeping areas, furniture, and other areas where there is a lot of fabric to catch the allergens in your pet’s skin glands and fur.
Other strategies for controlling the allergies produced by your pets include using HEPA vacuum filters, air cleaners, higher-MERV-rated HVAC filters, bathing your pet frequently, and trying different treatments (immunotherapy, steroidal and antihistamine nose sprays and pills).
Have an area near your door where people can take their shoes off (the Japanese call it a genkan). A dedicated area for footwear removal will prevent your family and guests from tracking pollutants into your home.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to take a shower and wash your hair before you go to bed to get rid of all the pollen and other contaminants that may have gotten stuck in your body hair. If you have a pet that is entering from the outdoors, clean off their paws and fur before they enter the home. It’s also a good idea to regularly check your pet for ticks.
Regular HVAC maintenance will make sure your so your system is clean, safe, and energy-efficient all year round.
Since the air that circulates through your home goes through your HVAC and duct system, it’s important to keep these components clean. It’s recommended that you have you schedule duct cleaning every 5-7 years.
HVAC air filters are rated on the MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) system. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filtration.
Although MERV ratings range from 1 to 20, the higher MERV ratings are reserved for HEPA filters, which require professional modification of your existing system. If you would like hospital-quality air filtration, you’ll want a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. If you aren’t quite ready to modify your HVAC system to fit these thicker and more effective air filters, then we recommend purchasing air filters with a MERV rating between 7 and 13.
Have a professional HVAC technician come and check your duct system for leaks and dirty conditions. You can get an idea of how your dirty your air ducts are by sticking a flash camera into one of your ducts and taking a picture.
According to the EPA, the average American home lose 20 to 30 percent of their conditioned air out of duct leaks in the home. While it’s possible to do some basic air sealing with mastic sealant (ironically, never duct tape), it’s best to call a professional for duct improvement.
It’s highly recommended that you limit duct losses by sealing all the joints and insulating ductwork in unconditioned spaces like the attic.
Cleaning and sealing your air ducts not only improves indoor air quality, it also helps you save money and energy. Learn more about the importance of getting your ducts cleaned for winter.
Speak with an indoor air quality specialist at Service Champions to learn more about:
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