How To Protect Indoor Air Quality in Winter

During the winter many of us spend most of our time huddled up in the house trying to stay warm and toasty. The last thing we are probably thinking about is indoor air quality. Heaters, chemicals, pet dander, and other irritants can cause health problems, especially for those who have allergies.

Usually the furnace is what has the largest impact on indoor air quality. If you own an older home and have not had the ducts cleaned, the more likely they have accumulated bacteria, animal dander, mold, and dust mites. Make sure to keep your heating system in peak working condition by:

Having a professional service your heater before winter. A professional will clean, inspect, and perform a safety check.

Checking the manufacturer instructions for your system. Depending on what type of furnace you have, there may be filters you can replace yourself. Some filters should be changed as frequently as once a month, while others can last several.

Installing a carbon monoxide alarm. Remember, if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, make sure everyone evacuates the house including pets. Call emergency services (911 or the fire department).

You can also boost your indoor air quality by looking in other places:

Use exhaust fans when cooking or cleaning to help draw out irritating fumes.

Clean rugs and curtains regularly. The thick fabric can capture dust which will eventually affect your respiratory system.

Monitor the humidity levels in your home. If the level is over 50%, it offers an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow. If it drops below 30%, it may cause respiratory problems. Using a humidifier in the winter is a great way to combat these problems.

Vacuum and dust regularly all year round to keep dust mites and pet fur from accumulating. Consider purchasing a HEPA-certified filter for your vacuum.

Use cleaning products without harsh chemicals. Air fresheners also release pollutants continuously.

If you smoke or live with someone who does, do not smoke in doors.

Open windows and doors if the weather permits to get some fresh air into your home.

By increasing ventilation and avoiding use of harsh chemicals and irritating substances, you will notice a significant difference of air quality in your home!