How to Keep Your Indoor Air Healthy This Winter
Winter is a time when you're likely to seal up your home against all manner of drafts and settle into its cozy confines for the rest of the season. Turning your home into a sealed sanctuary against the cold can save you plenty of money on your heating costs, but it could also cause the air in your home to go stale and become loaded with airborne pollutants of all types.
To make matters worse, heating the stagnant air in your home can make it even drier than before, which can lead to chapped lips, itchy skin, sore throats and sinus infections. Dry, stagnant air can even increase your vulnerability to colds and flu. If you want to have a healthy home this winter, it pays to follow these tips for healthier indoor air.
Take Care of Your Air Filter
Keeping your air filter in relatively good shape is essential for having healthy air in your home. That means replacing your air filter before it becomes completely clogged with captured debris. This way, you can avoid blockages that cause your furnace's overall performance to suffer due to a lack of good airflow.
Changing your air filter at least once every three months can help improve your home's indoor air quality and its overall performance. If you're an allergy sufferer, then changing your air filter on a monthly basis can alleviate some symptoms and make others occur less frequently.
If your furnace still has its fiberglass air filter, then upgrading to one that uses pleated paper instead of fiberglass may also help improve your home's indoor air quality. Pleated filtration is capable of trapping more airborne pollutants than ordinary fiberglass, which makes it more effective at capturing these and a host of other particles.
We also recommend the HEBA365 Air Cleaner filtration system. It fits right in your existing HVAC system and lasts a year in most cases.
Clean Up the Rest of Your Furnace
Your air filter isn't the only place where dust and debris can find itself trapped. It can also accumulate around the general vicinity of your furnace — especially during the summer when it's not being used. It's not unusual to get a whiff of burnt dust and debris as you fire up your furnace for the first time in months, especially if you haven't gotten around to cleaning it yet.
Wiping down the exterior of your furnace cabinet can help remove surface dust and debris. A good shop vacuum also comes in handy for vacuuming up loose debris in various nooks and crannies around the furnace.
Bring in Fresh Air
Good ventilation is the key to maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) throughout the winter. Keeping your windows slightly cracked whenever possible is one good way of bringing in fresh air— even if it also brings a bit of cold into your home. You can also use the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom to flush out stale air.
Balanced ventilation systems offer a better way of promoting good ventilation throughout your home. These systems rely on a series of intake and exhaust fans to deliver fresh air to living spaces while removing stale air. Some systems even feature air-to-air heat exchangers that use warm outgoing air to pre-warm the incoming air sourced from the outdoors.
If you plan on replacing your furnace in the near future, choosing a sealed combustion unit that draws its intake air from the outdoors can help improve your home's IAQ and prevent exhaust from being drawn back into your living quarters.
Invest in a Humidifier
Combating dry air is also important for maintaining good air quality for your home. Unfortunately, dry winter air can be made even drier once it's been through your furnace. A humidifier offers a great way of adding moisture back into your home's parched air.
Portable humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and are ideal for restoring moisture on a room-to-room basis, but they also require a fair amount of maintenance and lack the coverage necessary for larger areas. Whole-house humidifiers, on the other hand, can be integrated into your existing HVAC system and deliver well-needed moisture throughout the entire home.
So exactly how much humidity does your home need? Most experts recommend keeping humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent throughout the winter. Any higher and you could run the risk of exposing your home to unexpected mold and mildew problems.
Keep Your Furnace Serviced
Never underestimate the positive impact that regularly scheduled maintenance can have on your furnace, especially when it comes to overall performance and IAQ. Most experts recommend having your furnace checked out at least once a year, preferably before the start of the heating season.
Not only can your technician take care of your furnace's basic maintenance needs, but a comprehensive checkup can also reveal impending problems before they have an opportunity to sideline your heating system.
Get in touch with the experts at Dick Kearsley Service Centerto learn more tips on improving your home's indoor air quality.