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How to Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality This Spring

Though indoor air quality is important any time of year, it’s crucial in winter, when we seal in allergens, dust mites, and cleaning chemicals to keep our homes warm and save energy. Unfortunately, winter makes your home or business’s air quality much worse. The good news? You can keep your indoor air clean in the winter, too, even if you have pets; it just takes a little planning and a bit of know-how.

There's no better time than now to improve the air quality in your home. Spring is often a season of worsening symptoms for allergy and asthma sufferers. Sneezing and watery eyes worsen as pollen levels increase as plants and flowers bloom. It is possible to manage your asthma and allergy symptoms by putting into action simple strategies. The following tips will help you improve the quality of your Roanoke, Virginia home's indoor air during spring.

What is the Winter "Stack Effect"?

Ever wonder what makes a hot air balloon rise? It’s possible we gave that one away, but, if you missed it, the answer is heat. And guess what’s happening in your home during winter? Your home is heating up. The combination of heat from below and air rising is called the “stack effect,” and it’s the phenomenon whereby air is drawn up from the lowest levels of a structure – through the floors, windows, doors, and then up from the basement or crawlspace. So, basically, you and your family are breathing crawl space air all winter long. In fact, around 40% of the air you breathe in winter is from this “stack effect.”

Why is the "Stack Effect" Harmful to Your Health?

The toll that poor indoor air quality can take on your life is nothing to sneeze at – though it may cause you to sneeze. At best, it exacerbates the difficulty of dust mite and mold allergies, as well as sensitivities to certain toxic chemicals. At worse, it can cause chronic respiratory problems, heart issues, and even cancer. 

The stack effect is a natural consequence of the way HVAC work to keep buildings warm. However, there are some steps you can take to keep your indoor air clean despite the stack effect.

How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality This Spring

When your heat clicks on, consider how to balance the stack effect so that poor air quality isn’t stacked against you. Check out these types for cleaner indoor air. 
Change your furnace’s filter. Before spring starts, have a professional inspect your unit. Then, put a reminder in your calendar to change the furnace’s air filter regularly. Inspect it once a month for particulates. Check the filter’s rating, too, and don’t rely on poor quality for such an important element of your system. 

  • Invest in a Home Humidifier - Whole-home humidifiers work through the air ducts of an HVAC system, fighting the effects of winter dryness like itchy skin, dry nasal passages, and too much static. 
  • Replace Your Air Filter - Changing your HVAC filter on a regular basis is the easiest way to improve the air quality in your home. It is actually a good sign when the filter looks dirty over time. The filter is doing its job at trapping airborne particles and pollutants, including dust, dirt, and other debris. The filter will no longer be able to trap airborne contaminants once it becomes clogged. Consequently, your home's air can become filled with allergens. If you want to improve the quality of your indoor air, it's best to change the filter at least once a month, or as needed.
  • Keep Things Tidy. - Change your sheets weekly, vacuum every two or three days (more if you have pets), and stay on top of dusting. These small things don’t seem like much, but when they get neglected, they can really affect the air. 
  • Buy an Air Purifier - Air purifiers are great for people who have severe sensitivities or allergies – because sometimes cleaning isn’t enough. 
  • Clean Your Ducts Regularly - It is important to clean your ductwork on a regular basis if your HVAC system uses ducts to heat and cool your home. Ductwork will become clogged with dust and dirt, along with other debris. Through your air vents, dust and dirt are distributed throughout your home, building up in the air.
  • Grow Plants. - A few plants will organically help your home’s air stay clean. Peace lilies, English Ivy, spider plants, and rubber plants all help remove toxins from the air. 

Of these, staying on top of HVAC maintenance and filter changes is crucial for clean indoor air because it’s where the heat air conditioning starts. Your home's ventilation should be inspected if it has a tight envelope. You can improve the ventilation by hiring a professional.

Indoor air quality is one of Ostrom Electrical, Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning's specialties. We can help you improve your home's indoor air quality with simple tips and tricks. Call us today at 540-253-1559.

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