The winter months are tough on breathing. Closing windows, sealing doors, and using the heat can reduce air quality. Here is how you can keep your home and family safe from poor indoor air quality this winter.
What Causes Poor Air Quality in the Winter?
During the winter, homeowners often focus on sealing windows and doors to keep heat inside a home. These steps help your house stay warm, but they also trap pollutants and allergens that reduce air quality. Winters can become stuffy and uncomfortable from these and other elements released from a heating system.
Many heating systems and household appliances run on gas. This fuel source releases emissions that are usually filtered out of a home through exhaust pipes. Yet, if a system or appliance is not working efficiently, it could release pollutants into your home and damage the air quality. This problem can arise from an overworked, inefficient heating system.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also a source of air problems. These chemicals and odors are harmful to your health and air quality. Common VOCs are in cleaning supplies. When these elements get circulated, they make the air more difficult to breathe and can cause headaches and nasal problems. Cleaning the house in the colder months could result in higher levels of these particles in the air.
The accumulation of common household pollutants and allergens also explains poor air quality in the winter. Dust mites, mold, and mildew build up more in the colder months because people spend more time indoors with closed windows. As these elements build up, sickness and allergy flare-ups can occur. The lack of adequate ventilation to remove particles is a primary reason for this poor air quality.
In addition, air ducts can be a source of poor air quality in the winter. Duct leaks cause a loss of heat and reduce the efficiency of your heating system, but can also allow dust and pollutants from the outside into your home. These elements lower the indoor air quality and can aggravate allergy symptoms.
To help address these air quality issues, you should eliminate fuel source emissions inside the home, improve your ventilation, and consider using air purifiers.
How to Ensure Indoor Air Quality
Arranging for an indoor air quality (IAQ) test is a great way to ensure your home has healthy air this winter. This test will search for dust mites, pet dander, mold, and other indoor air contaminants in your HVAC system. A professional service visit will detect these and other allergens and pollutants that damage air quality in your home.
A service visit will identify common allergens and any carbon monoxide emissions, radon, or other dangerous gases in the air. Carbon monoxide comes from fuels like gas that power furnaces and are usually funneled outside through an exhaust pipe. Radon is a gas in the atmosphere that can enter a home through cracks in the foundation. IAQ tests can detect either of these hazardous gases and make sure your home is protected from them.
These appointments will also evaluate temperature and humidity levels to make sure that the environment is not too hot, dry, or humid. Too much humidity produces mold, which can cause health problems for those who are allergic to it. Your inside air might also be too dry and needs added moisture to make it more comfortable and breathable.
Once the assessment is completed, you will receive a detailed plan of action on how to improve your air quality. Your plan may entail adding air filters or purifiers to the home or dehumidifiers to adjust comfort and breathability. You may need to arrange for improvements to air ducts and ventilation to ensure top air quality.
Changing out your HVAC air filters is another great way to ensure top air quality. Clogged air filters can hinder how your heating system works, but they also circulate poor air in your home. Air filters should be checked regularly and before winter starts to allow time to replace them.
Humidifiers offer another way to maintain indoor air quality in the winter. Dry air is common during the colder months, which can lead to dry skin and respiratory issues. Humidifiers can help boost moisture levels and improve the quality of indoor air.
You can also circulate the air in rooms by using a fan or opening a window during the day for brief periods. Take advantage of warmer winter days to refresh the air in a room.
Preventing Poor Indoor Air Quality
Regular maintenance of your HVAC system will prevent poor indoor air quality issues. Your heating system is like a car and needs to be taken care of and updated as it gets older. A service visit once or twice a year will help you achieve the best air quality.
Maintenance visits can check furnaces for holes or leaks and repair worn-out heat exchangers or blower assemblies. Regular visits will provide cleaning of the HVAC condenser and evaporator coils, which are essential to proper airflow in the house. Maintenance visits include checking the wiring and thermostat and heading off the need for HVAC service repair visits when something breaks down.
If you have an older furnace, it could be time to replace it with a high-efficiency model. High-efficiency heating systems have a 90% to 98.5% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which means that almost all of the energy is used for heating purposes. An energy-efficient furnace can heat your house more effectively and substantially reduce particle emissions. In comparison, older furnaces can have a less than 70% AFUE rating, cost more to heat your home, and emit more allergens and contaminants into the air.
You should also plan to regularly service filters and humidifiers in your home. You may also consider having exhaust fans installed in kitchens and bathrooms to draw out contaminants and improve ventilation in rooms that are used more frequently. These measures combined with a high-efficiency heating system can significantly improve and protect air quality.
Make sure that paints, stains, and other chemicals are stored properly outside of your home. Regular dusting and vacuuming are also good ways to reduce bothersome allergens and particles. Avoid aerosol sprays, if possible, so that chemicals from them are not released in your home. Putting a plant in a room will also help provide oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
Maintenance visits and checking your home will help ensure your heating system is working at peak efficiency. In turn, an efficient heating system will make it last longer, save you money, and provide clean indoor air.
Quality HVAC Services
Please contact us at Kalins Indoor Comfort for more information about indoor air quality and HVAC services. We provide heating, air conditioning, and air duct installation and maintenance services to cities like Sioux City, Vermillion, and Yankton in areas within Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska. We are a family-owned, reliable, and trustworthy HVAC business that has been in operation for over 100 years and has been a Premier Lennox Dealer for more than 70 years. Call us today!