During the cold winter months, it’s no surprise that we like to keep our windows and doors closed so we can seal in the heat. However, this means it’s harder to get fresh air into our homes. Ideally, it would be great to just throw open the windows and allow the breeze to flow through. But during this time of year, it might still be too cold to air out the house that way. So, we have to find other ways to compensate.
Indoor air quality is the condition of the air within buildings and homes. During the winter, we are usually so preoccupied with keeping the cold air out and the warm air in that we overlook the importance of taking care of the air we are breathing inside our homes. Allergy-inducing agents constantly circulate throughout indoor spaces, and over time the indoor air can become stale, especially when there is little or no air flow. Luckily, there are several things you can do to get cleaner air.
Change your air filter.
Air filters are the unsung heroes of the HVAC system. It may seem like a small thing to change your air filter regularly, but it’s actually vital to the health of your entire system. Most of the air circulating through your home goes through a filter so it can remove dust and other contaminants. It keeps your equipment safe and clear of clogs and grime. Without a filter, that dust and dirt ends up in the air you’re breathing every day.
Every HVAC system is different. In general, it is recommended that you change your air filter every month. How often you change your filter can depend on the time of year as well, so it’s best to refer to your system’s maintenance manual for guidance. Some other factors to consider are how many people live in your home, the area you live in, and whether or not you have a pet. The main rule is that if it’s dirty, replace it.
Changing your air filter regularly will also save you money. If your filter is clogged, your system has to work harder to get the air to pass through it. The U.S. Department of Energy says that properly maintaining and upgrading your equipment can save you about 30% on your energy bill while also reducing environmental emissions. So not only will you improve your quality of life but your system will run more efficiently and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.
Over time, dust, pet hair, and other dirt and grime builds up around the house. Remember, your HVAC system is sucking up everything in the air. The more contaminants and particles that you can capture and eliminate yourself, the more efficiently your HVAC system will run. Clean your home from the top (ceiling) to the bottom (floor) to get rid of dust. That way you’re not making more work for yourself by stirring up dust that will eventually settle and stick to everything. Don’t forget to vacuum in and around your vents in the floor and in the ceiling, too.
In addition to regular cleaning around the house, keep up with cleaning your air ducts. In general, it is recommended to have an expert clean your ducts every 5 to 7 years, but it also depends on how dirty your home is. The EPA created this guide to help you determine whether or not to get your air ducts cleaned. If you’re not sure if your air ducts are due for a cleaning, simply take a look inside your vents. Is there a lot of dust buildup? Then it’s time to schedule a cleaning!
Purify the air.
Regular cleaning goes a long way to improve the air quality in your home, but you may also want to consider getting an air purifier. Air purifiers remove up to 99% of allergens, airborne particles, and bacteria from the air, which is especially great in the winter when it’s so easy for colds and other germs to spread. They eliminate dust and other particles before they even have time to settle, so you won’t have to clean as often. Air purifiers also remove unpleasant odors and harmful chemicals from the air, giving you assurance that your family is breathing clean air.
Consider a humidifier.
During a Midwest winter, dry air is an all too common complaint. It is caused by a combination of the cold outdoor air and the furnace constantly blowing in your home. This is why many people grumble about dry or itchy skin, dry eyes, and chapped lips in the winter. How do we deal with this year after year? One simple solution is to set up a humidifier.
Humidifiers maintain a comfortable level of humidity in your home all winter long, so the air doesn’t get too dry. Low humidity levels in your home can lead to nosebleeds and irritated respiratory issues, such as a dry cough, flu symptoms, and asthma flare-ups. With a humidifier, you can relieve those issues and symptoms. Your family will thank you and your home will too! Managing the humidity in your home will help protect wood floors, cabinets, and anything else susceptible to warping, cracking, or permanent damage due to dry air.
Check for mold.
Mold and mold spores can be dangerous to your health. They produce allergens and irritants and can cause reactions including headaches, sneezing, runny nose, dry eyes, and rashes. Mold can be sneaky, so it’s important to be on the lookout for it. It grows in areas with excess moisture and poor ventilation. The excess moisture can come from a leaky pipe, improper drainage, condensation, or seeping water due to rain or melting snow.
Look out for mold anywhere that there is water in your home. Check around your air filter, intake vents, AC condenser grills, drip pans, water tank, and condensate drains. Mold can also infect your ductwork, which will cause a musty odor. If the issue is severe, you may actually be able to see the mold through your vents.
If you see mold or suspect mold is growing in your home, it is important to find the cause before you can tackle any form of remediation. It can be very stubborn. If you don’t fix the source of the excess moisture, you won’t be able to get rid of the mold for good. Sometimes you can deal with mold issues yourself, but you can always call an HVAC technician to diagnose and resolve the issue.
Do you want to improve the air quality inside your home? Contact the experts at Allied Air Conditioning and Heating for a consultation today! For your convenience, you can now call or text your service requests. For Palatine use 847-262-3349 and Libertyville use 847-316-0591.