5 Steps for Improving Your Home’s Air Quality

Air pollution outside

When you're spending a lot of time at home, your indoor air quality takes on new importance. You want the air you're breathing every day to be as clean as possible. Unfortunately, the air inside many homes isn't as good as it could be. By following some simple steps, you can improve your home's air quality and your family's health.

Indoor air quality, or IAQ, is a measure of how many pollutant particles are in your home's air. In a typical home, it's normal to find most or all of these pollutants:

  • Dust

  • Human (and pet) dander

  • Pollen

  • Mold spores

  • Chemicals from cleaning and personal care

We breathe these particles every day. While most people can handle them in reasonable amounts, it's always best to remove as many as possible from your living space. It becomes even more important to improve your IAQ if you have someone in your home with allergies, breathing difficulties, or a compromised immune system.

Fortunately, improving your IAQ isn't difficult. Most of the steps included here are easy for you to do yourself, but a few are better left to the professionals.

Step 1: Clean or Replace Your Air Filters

If you have a central heating and air conditioning system, you can help control your air quality with filters. Typically, you'll find a filter at the opening of your return air vent. As your system pulls air from your house to be heated or cooled, the air passes through the filter. This helps trap pollutants. It's important to replace or clean these filters periodically. Dirty filters make your system work harder and use more power.

Filters have a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating that tells you how effective the filter is. A higher MERV rating means more filtration.

If you have a disposable filter, you should replace it based on the manufacturer's suggested timeframe and your home's needs. Most manufacturers recommend replacing their filters every 60-90 days. However, if you have pets or live in a place that's dusty, you may need to replace the filter every month. If you have a reusable filter, you should follow the manufacturer's recommended cleaning cycle but clean it more often if needed.

Step 2: Keep Your Surface Areas Dust-Free

Dusting, mopping, and vacuuming can do wonders for your indoor air quality. Dust, pollen, and other pollutants tend to settle on flat surfaces. By cleaning your surfaces regularly, you can eliminate a good number of the particles that lower your air quality. Just remember to work from the top down so that you're not pushing dust onto newly cleaned floors.

Don't forget your curtains and bedding. Fabrics tend to catch airborne pollutants. Bedding should be washed weekly. Use hot water if you can to help kill germs and dust mites.

The curtains should be cleaned according to the manufacturer's directions. While they don't need to be done as often as your bedding, they still need periodic cleaning to remove dust.

Step 3: Let Some Fresh Air In

Many newer houses are designed to be energy-efficient. They do their best to keep heated or cooled air inside. While this is great for your energy bills, it's not always good for your breathing. Pollutants that are trapped inside your home can build up over time.

The simple solution is to open your windows or doors for a little while when the weather is nice. If you have an attic fan, you can turn it on to help move stale air out of your attic. Box fans in the window will help move air through the main floors of the house, or you can simply wait for a day with a good breeze.

Step 4: Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

One area where you'll probably want to hire a professional is duct cleaning. Ducts are the tubes that move air into and out of your air conditioning and heating systems. Pollutants in the air get deposited in the ducts. Later, as more air moves through, it picks up those same pollutants and sends them back into your air space.

If you haven't had your ducts cleaned in a long time -- or ever -- you may want to have a professional check them to see if a cleaning is in order. Duct cleaning is also a good idea any time you have repairs or construction done on your house that involves a lot of dust.

Step 5: Install a Ventilation System

Ventilation systems remove moisture and reduce mold and other allergens. According to the EPA, one of the best ways to reduce indoor air pollution is to ventilate the home. As mentioned above, one way to do this is to open windows and doors when the weather permits. However, the weather doesn't always cooperate.

Ventilation systems such as E-Z Breathe automate the process. Instead of waiting for you to open a window, they work full-time to keep air flowing. This results in fewer pollutants and less moisture building up in your home even during long stretches of bad weather.

Bottom line: By focusing on these steps to clean and ventilate your home, you'll see improvements in your indoor air quality and help your family breathe easier. For all of your indoor air quality needs, depend on Electrical Experts. To schedule an appointment, call (413) 276-4787.

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