Easy Ways to Improve Your Home's Indoor Air Quality
You’ve come home after a long day of work, only to find that something doesn’t smell right. But it’s not the kitchen, the bathroom, or that pile of dirty laundry—could it be the air itself? Eww!
Whether you smell something out of the ordinary or not, the fact of the matter is that indoor air pollutants are five times higher than those outdoors. That’s bad news for those with allergies and respiratory issues but doesn’t bode well for everyone else either.
Some health effects including headaches and irritation of the nose and eyes, can show up immediately after exposure to certain pollutants, but long term exposure can cause respiratory diseases and even cancer.
To safeguard your health, try these techniques to boost the quality of the air in your home—it’s easier than you might think:
Start with a deep clean
There’s something so refreshing about a home that’s clean from top to bottom.
Vacuum the carpet—it’s a dirt and dust trap. Be sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter on it, and ensure the canister or bag is never full. This will allow for not only maximum suction, but maximum retention, rather than recirculation into the air.
Using a slightly damp cloth, wipe dust from not only common surfaces like end tables and shelves, but also from the tops of hard-to-reach locations where dust, microbes and spores like to hide.
Finally, don’t forget about the windows and floors. Apply a glass cleaner to remove dirt and sweep and mop regularly. Give those hard surfaces a good clean with low VOC cleaners to limit adding pollutants back into your home.
Do your laundry
A lot of pollutants tend to stick to fabrics, like your bed sheets or your favorite sweater. No one really looks forward to laundry day, but it’s essential if you want to keep your home free from dust mites, dander, and other pollutants.
Speaking of cleaning fabrics, don’t forget to clean your rugs or carpets! You might need to call a cleaning company to wash these materials periodically, but it will be worth it.
Install a carbon monoxide & radon detector
One of the main reasons why you should pay attention to your air quality is that gas leaks can be fatal.
Carbon monoxide is invisible, tasteless, and odorless—the only way to tell if it’s leaking into your home is if your carbon monoxide detector sounds off. Radon is another gas that’s nearly impossible to detect without a sensor. Exposure to radon gas is a leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Defend yourself against these harmful gasses by installing the proper detectors for them.
Identify & eliminate moisture issues
When you open your closet and find white or black mold on your clothes or walls, it creates stress and anxiety. But mold does more than damage your clothes and walls; it greatly impacts the air quality in your home.
To reduce moisture in your home, try things like:
- Using an exhaust fan when cooking in your kitchen. Remove grease and steam from the air with a range hood. You don’t want to breathe that anyways.
- Cover boiling pots with lids. The steam that rises from boiling water adds a lot of moisture to the air, which promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Leave the lid on and give it a few taps to send the condensed steam back into the food rather than into the air.
- Running a dehumidifier. This device require an initial investment, but can effectively reduce the humidity from the air in your home.
- Opening a window when you shower. Whenever you step out of the shower, you notice that the mirror is completely fogged up. Prevent this excess moisture by opening the bathroom window just a crack.
- Inspecting the plumbing systems for any leaks. Leaks are more than bad news for your water bill—they also damage your belongings and allow mold to grow. If you’re concerned that there’s a leak in your home, call a local plumber to inspect it.
Clean the ducts
Do you feel congested and stuffed up in your home? If you’re in an older home, haven’t changed your air filters regularly, or use anything less than MERV 11 air filtration, your vents may be lined with dust, microbes, and other irritants. Those particles will be recycled throughout your home and your lungs become the filter!
Here are a few benefits of regular duct cleanings:
- It will provide relief to those with allergies.
- It can eliminate foul odors.
- Clean air ducts will improve airflow.
Call a local HVAC technician to schedule a duct cleaning.
Change your air filter
The filters in your HVAC system are highly effective at removing dander, dust, and other particulates from the air. However, they need to be replaced once in a while. Not only will a dirty filter become ineffective at capturing contaminants, but it will also put undue stress on your HVAC unit, potentially damaging it. Aim to replace or clean the filter every 3-4 months.
A new home by Woodside Homes, provides advanced air filtration with MERV 13 air filters to capture the smallest of airborne particles including microbes. Combined with the use of low to zero-VOC paints, carpeting, and other finish materials, pollutants are kept to a minimum. Look for these types of materials if renovating your home.
Ventilate your home
Even if your home is clean, us humans expel one pint of water into the air per hour, and our daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, using the restroom and more, add pollutants to the air. So, the indoor air can start to stagnate and smell a bit after some time.
Most heating and cooling systems don’t cycle in new air so, there’s really only one way you can ventilate your home—open a window. Sure, you’ll lose some of the warm/cool air produced by your HVAC system, but replacing old, polluted air with fresh, clean air, is crucial.
Open the window closest to an HVAC air intake register at least once a day for an hour or so and you’ll notice a difference.
Poor indoor air quality can make respiratory issues and allergies worse and even cause them in those who currently don’t have them. Take the above steps to improve and guard your health.
About the author: Kiara provides comprehensive marketing solutions for busy entrepreneurs. She loves applying her knowledge of writing and home improvement to new content pieces. Some of her favorite pieces can be found on Provincial Heating's website.