Get Smart About Indoor Air Quality This Winter
The air in your home looks clean, but that doesn’t mean it is. Your indoor air could be filled with contaminants. The problem can become even worse during the winter. With every breath you take, you may be filling your lungs with nasty particles. That’s not what you want for your family this winter.
Fortunately, there’s no need to settle for unclean air. Instead, you can find out about the causes of winter air pollution and take steps to address them.
Sealed Winter Homes
The outdoor air is chilly in winter, so you want to keep it out of your house. It would be silly to pay for heating while also leaving your windows wide open. In fact, if you’re like most people, you probably shut your house up as tight as you can during the winter. That could involve shutting doors, closing windows and sealing leaks. Any spot where air can escape could be a place where you’re losing money.
This endeavor can be good for your temperature comfort and your heating bills. It’s not so great for your indoor air quality, though. Sealing up your house can trap all sorts of contaminants inside.
Some of the contaminants are likely volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Those are chemicals like benzene, xylene, and formaldehyde. They are given off by furniture, cleaning products, beauty supplies, and other household items. Other potential air contaminants include dust, pollen, mold, and mildew. Cigarette smoke is an additional source of air contamination in some houses.
In general, these various contaminants have a presence inside your home all year long. The levels simply become more concentrated in winter because of how tightly shut your house is.
In addition to year-round air contaminants that build up during the winter, there are also issues that are more specific to the season. One potential winter culprit is the fireplace. On a cold winter’s day, a wood-burning fireplace can be a cozy way to warm your bones. It may not be so good for your lungs, though. As logs burn, they can release pollutants into your air.
A fireplace may not be the only source of combustion in your house. You might also have a gas-powered furnace to keep you warm in the winter. It, too, can release some pollutants into your air, especially if the system is not well-maintained.
Carbon monoxide is a particular concern. If your furnace develops a carbon monoxide leak, it can be a serious health hazard. In some cases, carbon monoxide poisoning even leads to death.
Cool weather tends to drive families indoors for the winter. As you spend more time inside, more dust will build up there. In large part, dust is caused by the shedding of dead skin cells. That happens year-round, but when you’re outside frequently, a lot of the shedding happens outdoors. Once you’re hunkered down for winter, inside is where most of the shedding will occur. A lot of the resulting dust will end up floating around in the air you breathe.
Plus, you may not be the only one who’s hanging out inside more often. Your pets may be too. Their dander will be another source of increased air contamination.
While you and your family spend the winter indoors, how do you pass the time? Perhaps you engage in hobbies, tackle home improvement projects, or commit to cleaning. Such pastimes could produce air impurities, especially if you’re doing things like painting, sanding, and polishing.
Any parent who’s ever sent kids to school in the winter knows that germs are a fact of life during this part of the year. Sometimes it seems that the coughs and sniffles will never end.
Once an illness infiltrates your home, it may only be a matter of time before every member of the family falls victim. After all, you’re all breathing the same air. Unless you purify the air, the germs can spread rapidly from one person to another.
Winter air is cold, and cold air doesn’t retain moisture as well as warm air does. That means that the humidity level is often uncomfortably low during the winter.
Low humidity is a problem because it can leave you quite uncomfortable. When your air is dry, your skin may feel itchy and irritated. Your throat may feel scratchy, and you might cough frequently. In addition, your eyes could be dry, and you might get frequent nosebleeds.
Unfortunately, in an effort to combat dry air, some people overcompensate during the winter. They run portable humidifiers, but they don’t get the humidity balance just right. They end up putting too much moisture into the air.
High humidity can promote the growth of mold and mildew. As mold and mildew spread, they, too, can contaminate the indoor air. That’s because they release spores that will float throughout the room. Breathing mold and mildew spores is bad for your health.
What to Do About Impure Winter Air
Yes, indoor air quality can be a problem in the winter, but there are ways to address the issue. When you get an air quality team like Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating on your side, you can count on breathing fresh, clean air all season long.
First of all, you’ll want to install an air purifier. Whole-house air purifiers are connected to your heating and cooling system. All of the air that’s distributed through your home must pass through the filter. As a result, purifiers can be quite effective at removing a variety of contaminants from your indoor air. They are useful for trapping dust and mold. High-quality systems can also take care of viruses and bacteria.
Since germs run so rampant during the winter, you might want to protect your family by also installing a UV system. This device uses UV light to neutralize disease-causing microbes. It can also be helpful in the fight against other contaminants, such as dust, mold, and VOCs.
A whole-home humidifier could be another piece of the air-quality puzzle. A humidification system can tackle the problem of dry indoor air that leaves your skin itchy and your throat scratchy. A professionally installed system will humidify the air without overcorrecting. You can rely on it to be set at just the right humidity level for your home.
Finally, it’s smart to make sure that your heating system is in top shape before winter begins. Having a well-tuned system will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide or other pollutants leaking into your home. To protect your family, schedule an annual maintenance inspection at the beginning of the season.
For professional help with your San Antonio air quality this winter, call Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating. We’re experts in purifying and humidifying indoor air. In addition, our team can handle all of your heating and cooling needs. We provide installation, service, and maintenance for air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps. Our team also cleans and repairs air ducts and provides custom sheet metal work. Give us a call today to schedule a visit from one of our experienced technicians.