For many, the thought of winter brings to mind crisp, clean snow and fresh, cold air. While walking through a winter wonderland can be beautiful and dazzling, going back home could be hazardous to your health. Winter weather can bring out the worst in your indoor air quality. Many homeowners don’t realize the risks associated with the seasonal change in temperature and how those risks can affect their homes.
During the winter, homeowners strive to keep warm air in and cold air out by making their homes more energy-efficient. Energy-efficient homes are well-insulated, sealed effectively, and typically cheaper to heat. While these all sound like positive attributes, many don’t realize that energy-efficient homes may be doing their jobs a little too well.
There is one glaring problem with keeping all warm air in: if the air in your home is simply recycled through the home over and over, little to no fresh air is able to flow through. This means pollutants in your home are not going anywhere.
Common Home Pollutants
Pet Dander When everyone is gathered indoors, Spot’s bed and Fifi’s scratching post can become nightmare contaminants. Difficult to see and clean, pet dander can be especially hard if someone in the home is allergic to pets.
Pollen If you have indoor plants, pollen can be a part of the pollution problem in your home.
Mold and Mildew Typically, winters are pretty dry inside. But any moisture in the home doesn’t have a chance to vacate if the windows and doorways are sealed. This can increase the growth and spread of mold and mildew. Their spores are easily borne through the air and can cause occupants to become very ill when they are inhaled.
Germs If the air isn’t traveling outside of the home, viruses and bacteria aren’t, either.
Chemicals Second-hand smoke, cleaning pollutants, beauty product debris, residue from bonding agents, paint flecks, air fresheners, laundry by-products, and other common household chemicals are all in a continuous loop throughout the home during the winter. In older homes, lead and asbestos can also be a common air-quality problem.
Dust Mites During the winter, people and animals tend to shed more dead skin as a result of dryer air and spending more time in the home. Dust mites thrive on the excessive amounts of dead skin found in homes during the winter, and their higher numbers can cause allergies, at the very least.
Winter brings air-quality level down in many ways. Without knowing it, homeowners are trapping unwanted and even toxic pollutants inside their homes. Detecting levels of pollutants in home air quality can be easy if homeowners regularly have their indoor air quality tested. Not having an indoor air quality test means that homeowners may only detect pollutants when they or their families become ill. Frequent allergies, sinus problems, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, itchy and watery eyes, asthma, and myriad other health issues can all be signs that the air quality in the home is sub-par. Living in a home with bad air quality can lead to long-term respiratory illnesses and even, in severe cases, cancer.
Keep the home warm, however, doesn’t mean everyone’s health will be compromised. Here are a few simple steps to take this winter to keep the air clean in your home.
What You Can Do
Monitor Air Flow Keeping indoor filters clean and replacing them often is a great way to make sure the pollutants are leaving the home.
Check Your Indoor Air Quality Checking for lead, asbestos, radon, and carbon monoxide are all important during the winter months. Families spend more time indoors when it is cold outside and many of these pollutants are impossible to detect without a device. Clean Air Solutions can help by providing a thorough indoor air quality analysis on your home.
Clean Often Dusting can spread particles through the air more. Vacuum frequently to cut down dust. Use dust mite covers on mattresses and wash bedding frequently (once a week.) Vacuum the pet area more frequently than the rest of the home and dispose of all vacuum leavings in the outdoor trash bin. Using more natural cleaning solutions can be better for air quality as well.
Air Out Rooms Open a window or outside door periodically when weather permits. Allow rooms that have higher moisture buildup (e.g., bathrooms) to air out frequently so that mold and mildew can’t form. Alternatively, you can install an air exchanger that can provide an ongoing supply of fresh air to your home in an energy-efficient manner.
Plants Although pollen can be an indoor pollutant, many plants work well as air purifiers. Research plants that have abilities to absorb toxins and that require the least amount of watering. (Plant bowls that stay moist can harbor mold.)
Don’t Take Chances With Your Health
Winter should be a joyous time of year. Holidays, snowfalls, and winter sports are all things that everyone should look for with cheer. Having to make time for illnesses and constant cleaning for contaminants and things like mold in the home can put a damper on the winter festivities. Keeping a close eye on the air quality of your home is well worth the time and effort. Knowing what to look out for and how to prevent future allergen contamination this winter, and using preventative measures indoors to prepare for the weather change can help your family enjoy their winter activities, have a happier, healthier holiday, and experience better quality of life in general.
If you have any concerns about the air quality in your home, contact Clean Air Solutions today. We can help.