Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. And with windows closed and the furnace running, this number is often even higher during the winter months. Below, learn about the air quality problems unique to winter and how you can prevent them.
What Are Common Indoor Air Quality Problems in Winter?
During the colder months, you rely on your furnace to keep the indoor environment comfortable. As the furnace maintains a comfortable temperature in your home, it also circulates dust, dirt, dander, and other fine particles into the air, significantly diminishing its quality. This is only worsened by the lack of fresh air being introduced into the home, because windows are typically closed around the clock.
Due to cold weather, people spend more time indoors. Various activities—from cooking to smoking to suffering from a winter cold or flu—can trap odors and germs in the home, thereby lowering indoor air quality. They can also increase the chances of getting sick or experiencing allergic reactions, especially in those who are immunocompromised or have serious allergies.
Installing new insulation, sealing gaps around windows and doors, and covering old, drafty, windows with plastic film can significantly improve home comfort and furnace efficiency during the winter. However, these efforts have a drawback: they create less opportunity for proper ventilation and for fresh air to enter the home. This, too, results in reduced air quality.
How Can You Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risks discussed above and improve the air quality inside your home. The best place to start is with the heating system by having preventative maintenance performed on your furnace annually. This process usually includes a professional cleaning of the unit, reducing the output of fine particles into the air.
While the furnace is being cleaned, consider upgrading its filtration system. Major advancements have been made in furnace filter systems, and these advanced filters have the ability to dramatically reduce airborne allergens, fine dust particles and even trap viruses!
Start by consulting an HVAC contractor about installing a whole-home media filter or air purifier to cleanse the air as it flows through your heating system. Filter systems with MERV ratings below 14 can still pass fine dust, allergens and viruses, while those with MERV ratings 14 and higher provide much better filtration. It is important to note that the higher the MERV rating, the more restrictive the filter is to air flow. So, it is critical that these filters be faithfully changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If these filters are permitted to build up heavy accumulations of debris, damage to your furnace’s blower system can result.
Lastly, there are some routine cleaning tasks that you can do to help improve your indoor air quality. If you haven’t had the ducts cleaned in the past three years, doing so will further improve your home’s air quality by removing the fine particles that have accumulated within the ductwork. Also, cleaning your home regularly has great benefits. Vacuuming, dusting, and keeping surfaces free from dirt as much as possible will help prevent dust from being recirculated throughout your home. On milder days, open windows for at least a few minutes—especially when cleaning—to introduce fresh air, flush out the dirty air and promote a healthier breathing environment for you and your family.
Start improving your home’s indoor air quality with a furnace inspection from Jon’s Plumbing & Heating. Since 1998, we have provided residents across Mount Vernon, OH, with comprehensive heating, cooling, and plumbing services, including routine maintenance, installations, and repairs. As Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractors®, we strive for customer satisfaction. Call (740) 520-2312 to request a quote, or visit our website for more information on how we can help upgrade your home environment.