We strive to be healthy – exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, and everything else in moderation. One area of keeping healthy that’s not only good for you and your home is maintaining quality indoor air. It’s often overlooked, but we know that most people spend the majority of the day inside their home or office. Having healthy indoor air can keep allergies, headaches, and other respiratory problems at bay, according to the Department of Energy. Here are some ways to ensure healthy indoor air in your home.
Clean Your Filter, or Better Yet, Upgrade to an Air Cleaner
It’s the number one rule to keeping your HVAC unit up and running, and keeping your filter clean can also help your system remove more particles from the air. Our resident expert Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, says that a conventional filter is primarily to protect your furnace, however, and it’s not so much for protecting your lungs.
“If you would like something better, consider an air cleaner or an air purifier,” he says.
Both air cleaners and purifiers have the ability to remove harmful particles from your whole home and are especially helpful for people who have a weakened immune system or are particularly susceptible to allergies. They don’t just filter the airborne pathogens, but can actually capture and kill them. For more on air cleaning products, click here.
Keep Humidity And Moisture In Check
Every homeowner knows that moisture can lead to mold, and mold can lead to a whole host of health problems. If you want to prevent mold and mildew, you need to keep moisture in check. That means using fans or ventilators in the bathroom when you are showering, and making sure to dehumidify if you have a basement that is prone to floods.
“High moisture can lead to condensate forming on windows and in other less obvious places, which may lead to wood rot and mold growth,” says Keith. “Humidity can be tricky. Too much is a problem but so is too little.”
That’s why you may need to humidify your home during the drier times of the year (usually winter).
“Air that is dry is not only uncomfortable, but will aggravate respiratory problems. Dry air also may be hard on wood furnishings including wood floors,” says Keith. “There are a variety of humidifiers available, but the best for the whole house is a central unit controlled automatically.”
VOCs, otherwise known as volatile organic compounds, are chemical pollutants like formaldehyde, asbestos, hexanal, octanal, and benzene, which can come from building materials and surface finishes, including paint and floor coverings. Nail polish remover and chemicals used in certain hobbies like woodworking and arts and crafts may have VOCs. Even household cleaning products and air fresheners can contain these harmful chemicals.
“These compounds cannot be filtered, but they can be removed by ventilating,” says Keith. “If these are used for hobbies, can you use them outside?”
He also reminds homeowners that even homes that are better sealed to keep outside air pollutants out can also trap humidity and VOCs inside.
“If you have too much humidity in the winter, it may also be an indicator of other contaminants being trapped – VOCs, radon, and even carbon dioxide from the air you exhale. Ventilate to keep those contaminants in check, but then you may have to add humidity if the air dries out too much,” he says.
Prevent Outdoors Contaminates
Lastly, you’ll want to prevent any outdoor contaminates from coming inside. That means keeping windows closed when you can, and cleaning thoroughly for dust, pet hair and other allergens that may come in on your clothes and shoes.
“Another thing to consider as a source of contamination is the attached garage,” says Keith. “Many homes are not well sealed between the house and the garage. It is not a rare occurrence to have a carbon monoxide alarm go off in a home after a car has been warmed up in the attached garage.”
He reminds homeowners to warm up your car with the garage door open and that you may want to leave the garage door open for a little bit after you back the car out of the garage to let the exhaust fumes escape.
“Infiltration, the air leaking in through small cracks that occur all around your home’s exterior envelope also occur through the doors and walls of the attached garage,” says Keith.
For even more advice on having healthy indoor air, click here to see some tips from technicians.