Keeping your Champaign, IL home warm is just one part of ensuring the health, safety, and comfort of your family this winter. You must also maintain an acceptably high indoor air quality (IAQ). Unfortunately, the cold weather ushers in many season-specific IAQ challenges. Read on to find out why your IAQ naturally declines each winter.
You’ve Tightly Sealed Your Home for Efficiency
To ensure efficient HVAC operation and minimize energy waste, most homeowners seal their homes up tight. In addition to keeping their windows and doors closed, many people add weatherstripping, seal gaps in building materials, and tighten their home’s envelopes in other ways. Although these measures prevent warm air from escaping outside, they also keep indoor contaminants trapped.
With adequate ventilation, toxin-loaded indoor air can move outdoors, and fresh, outside air can flow in. Although your home likely has a range hood vent and bathroom exhaust fans, these features might not be enough for ongoing air exchange. If you haven’t done so before, now is a great time to explore your options in addition to mechanical ventilation.
Toxins Abound Around the Building’s Perimeter
During winter, more people take the time to warm up their cars. A vehicle idling in front of or beside your home can affect your IAQ significantly. If you or your neighbor use wood-burning fireplaces or stoves for ambiance or heat, the exhaust from these features can affect your IAQ as well. Outdoor toxins from nearby activities can easily slip into your home via every viable point of ingress.
Dry Indoor Air Is Rife With Contaminants
Having enough moisture in your indoor air is critical during the winter months. Not only does excessively dry indoor air cause unpleasant symptoms like irritated sinuses and nosebleeds, but it also keeps dust and other allergens airborne. Indoor moisture weighs these particulates down and causes them to settle on surfaces like countertops, furnishings, and floors, where they can be easily wiped off.
If you or other people in your household suffer from dry hair, skin, and eyes during the winter months, your home may need additional moisture. Although HVAC systems offer a modest amount of humidity regulation, they can only extract excess moisture. Lacking the right integrated accessories, they’re incapable of adding humidity. Fortunately, you may be able to solve the problem by having a whole-house humidifier installed.
Common Winter Activities Introduce New Contaminants
Early winter is a time of festive celebrations. People are often lighting indoor candles, cooking more, and engaging in other activities that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other contaminants. When preparing for guests, you might plug air fresheners in or discharge plenty of room freshening sprays. Even the store-bought cleaning solutions that many people regularly use are rife with chemicals that can wreak havoc on human health if they’re constantly breathed in.
These are contaminants that pass right through standard HVAC air filters. The only effective ways to combat them include:
- Switching to natural cleansers and air fresheners
- Periodically airing out your home
- Keeping exhaust vents clean and using them often
- Adding an air scrubber, media filter, or air purifier to your HVAC system
With more people dropping by, home for vacation, or staying for long stretches as house guests, you’ll also have more traffic bringing in dirt, dust, dander, and other allergens from outside.
Winter Is One of Mold’s Favorite Seasons
Mold thrives in warm, damp environments. Surprisingly, winter is often when the interior of buildings are both of these things. This is the one season in which you’re most likely to have condensation-covered windows, wet drywall, and splotches of mold in poorly ventilated areas. The combination of ongoing heater use and lots of hot baths and steamy cooking projects creates the perfect conditions for fungi to thrive. If your home is overly wet in winter, installing a whole-house dehumidifier could help.
Winter Is a Great Time for IAQ Testing
Among the easiest ways to give your winter IAQ a boost is by scheduling annual heating system maintenance and regularly changing your HVAC air filter. However, you can take a much more proactive and needs-specific approach as you boost your air quality by additionally scheduling an IAQ assessment. This evaluation will determine the type and concentration of contaminants in your indoor air. It will also help you determine which IAQ accessories will have the best impact when added to your HVAC system.
Since 1952, we’ve been helping residents of Champaign, IL maintain clean, comfortable, and all-around healthy homes. We offer first-rate heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair services. Our clients can also count on us for HVAC sheet metal fabrication and cutting-edge IAQ improvements. To sign up for our preventative maintenance plan or schedule an appointment, contact Bash Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. now.