Let me guess, during the winter months to keep your heating bill down, you keep your windows mostly closed to prevent cold air from coming in? Well, really nobody likes to see their heating bill go up in the winter, so this does seem like a great plan. Unfortunately, closing-up our homes can lead to other costly problems like mold. According to the EPA, indoor air quality can sometimes be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air¹. The main issue with indoor air pollution is the health impact creating allergy symptoms such as eye, nose, and throat irritations as well as respiratory problems like asthma. Fortunately, we have some tips to help improve the quality of your indoor air.
This may seem like a simple idea but tidying and cleaning your home regularly can improve air quality. Use only eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaners and wipe down horizontal and vertical surfaces – the EPA website has a list of cleaners and disinfectants approved for home use. In similar fashion, vacuum, and mop floors at least one time per week using a vacuum with strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter to trap smaller particles. Vacuum walls, carpets, and upholstered furniture including mattresses. Using a vacuum with a sealed or bagless system can make a big difference. Is it true, can pet dander be an allergy trigger? Yes, so if you have pets, be sure to keep them groomed.
No fancy advice here, open your windows and doors (even in colder months) to rejuvenate the air. This will remove stagnant air and refresh the air. Let me clarify, allowing fresh air into your home for five to ten minutes per day can help move contaminants like cooking fumes, dust, and pollen and replace it with new, fresher air. Of course, you do not want to open your windows on a day where there’s smoke outside or heavy pollen in the air. If you are not sure, a simple solution is to check a weather app² on your cell phone which can tell you the air quality index or whether or not it is safe to open your windows and recirculate your indoor air.
This is gross, but dust mites may be the most common trigger of year-round allergies and asthma³. These creepy crawly and invisible to the naked eye bugs thrive when rooms are above 40 percent humidity and at temperatures above 70 degrees. Here is how you solve this, wash sheets and blankets once a week in 130-degree hot water. Wash bedding, cushions, and curtains frequently and use organic dust-mite-proof pillow, mattress, and box spring covers. Keep clothing off the floor and shoes out of the room. Yes, dust mites and their feces are real! I know that is a lot to take in but bear with me and keep reading these tips.
Be honest, do you know how to clean or change your HVAC filters? If you answered no, please be sure to learn how to do this because they need to be changed regularly. In fact, filters with higher MERV ratings need to be changed more often (at least every three months) to avoid restricted airflow that can drain efficiency. The higher the MERV rating, the better the effectiveness. Keep in mind that air conditioners clear impurities and the filters improve the air quality, so it is critical to clean them periodically. Another thing you can do is check your vents and ducts and make sure to change their filters regularly as well to avoid having airborne particles and dust mites (yes…them again) in your home.
The kitchen can be another polluted area, case in point a gas stove can release harmful contaminants, including carbon monoxide. Make sure to use cooking vents and to open a window when cooking to help clear the air. And coming up is where many people run into trouble…
You do not have to live in Florida to have humidity issues, just using the shower or doing laundry in your home is enough to cause problems. You can remedy this by adjusting your home’s humidity levels accordingly with a moisture or humidity gauge, available at most hardware stores. The ideal in-home humidity level should hover around 45%, anything under 30% is too dry, over 50% is too high and can contribute to mold growth. Of course the best solution is to locate the source of the humidity and correct the problem. However, if needed you can increase humidity by using a vaporizer or humidifier and to decrease the humidity, you can open windows (if it is not too humid outside), turn on a fan or air conditioner, or use a dehumidifier. Stick with me here because we are going to talk about eliminating VOCs next.
VOCs are emitted by many products used in homes today. The best thing you can do is stay away from synthetic air fresheners and petroleum-based wax candles, instead opt for homemade air fresheners, simmer pots, and all-natural soy or beeswax candles which will not emit any harmful chemicals. Use a HEPA air purifier that does not produce ozone, but eliminates VOCs that off-gas from paint, furniture, and cleaning chemicals. Another tip is to place green plants every 50 feet in your home which can help reduce VOCs and improve air quality. If you are going to paint, use interior paint with low or no VOCs and choose non-toxic adhesive, finishes, and varnishes where possible. Also, keep informed about the different building materials used to make furniture and what is likely to off gas VOCs.
One of the best ways to keep your house clean and to improve the air quality at home is by taking your shoes off whenever you come in from outside. Your shoes can track dirt, pesticides, chemicals, and pollutants into your home. Also, do not allow cigarette smoking in the home. Second-hand smoking can pollute indoor air and emit thousands of different chemicals. Finally, an air cleaner could also be a helpful solution, but keep in mind it is not designed to remove gaseous pollutants. Be sure to choose one that is highly effective at particle removal.
Need your indoor air tested?
Overall, the best recommendation for improving indoor air quality is to determine the source(s) of the air pollution and take quick action to correct the problem. Do you need help finding the source of your indoor air pollution? Please give Certified Indoor Environmental a call. We can provide a detailed IAQ report that lists findings and recommendations as well as an individualized and affordable plan for remediating the problem. We also have over 900 5-star reviews.Contact UsDownload IAQ Tips Checklist
Certified Indoor Environmental is licensed, bonded and insured. We apply advanced technology and use state-of-the-art equipment to handle air testing and mold remediation for residential and commercial customers. We also support realtors, home inspectors, property managers, and anyone who needs the air quality of their property tested. Our technicians are certified and trained by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning, and Restoration Certification), the organization recognized for setting the highest standards for the cleaning and restoration industry. Learn more about our process here.
CIE | Author – Lynette Schmidt, Business Development Manager | December 8, 2020