With summer temperatures rising, more families are planning to spend their free time inside. However, staying indoors doesn’t always mean that you can avoid allergy-causing particles. If your home is full of dust, dander, mold spores, or other irritants, you should take the opportunity to do some maintenance and repairs to help improve indoor air quality.
Below are six ways you can improve your home’s interior environment and prevent airborne contaminants from creating adverse health effects for your family.
Change the Air Filter
Air filters trap and remove particulate matter from the circulating air, whether inside the HVAC system or a purifier. Once it becomes clogged with dust and debris, the filter will no longer work effectively. In fact, you could end up with more dust, pollen, and pet dander floating around your home. That’s why you must replace your filter every 1-3 months.
You should also keep in mind that not all air filters are created equal. If you have pets, you might consider using an air filter designed for indoor allergens. Animal dander can pass through most standard paper filters, so make sure you find one rated for smaller particles. These filters can seem overpriced, but they will make a significant difference in your home’s air quality.
Replace the Air Conditioner
A 2018 survey found that 30% of homeowners had an air conditioner ten years old or older. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a broken or inefficient AC unit will create poor indoor air quality. Older air conditioners are notorious for having internal leaks that will increase the humidity inside your home. They can additionally contain mold, dirt, or bacteria that end up circulating throughout your HVAC system.
If you notice that your air conditioner is no longer working correctly or gives off a musty smell each time it’s used, you may need to replace your unit. If your house has a home warranty plan, you can talk to your service provider about finding a technician who can recommend what manufacturer or model would work best for your situation. You probably don’t even have to worry about paying for the replacement as most policies cover air conditioners in the contract. A new AC will also save you money as newer units use less energy and control your home’s interior temperature more efficiently.
Clean the Air Ducts
Mold and mildew love growing in dark places, including your home’s air ducts. It’s the perfect environment for microorganisms to flourish as most homeowners often overlook this chore. Eventually, dust and mold spores can build up and begin to circulate inside your house each time your furnace or air conditioner kicks on. If you don’t have your ducts routinely cleaned, the debris can restrict airflow and create future problems for your HVAC system.
Prevent these issues by hiring a cleaning service to empty and sanitize your air ducts. Not only does this task create a healthier home environment, but it can also improve air circulation and cut down on bad indoor odors.
Reduce Humidity Levels
Besides your air ducts, mold can live anywhere in the home that has a lot of moisture. That means if your house is very humid, you could end up with mildew growing on the walls or ceiling. To stop the spread, control the amount of moisture in the air by purchasing a whole-home dehumidifier. Setting one up in your house can improve air quality and prevent mold spores from sprouting.
Ideally, you should aim to keep your indoor humidity level at about 30-50%. This range is low enough to stop mold and mildew but high enough to limit allergy symptoms caused by dry sinuses. If you notice that levels are still too high, you may need to look for the cause. Sweating pipes, dishwasher cycles, or long showers can add excess moisture to your home. To offset these problems, install additional vents or open windows to increase air movement.
Turn On the Kitchen Vents
It’s surprising how many irritants are created in the kitchen. Cooking on your stovetop burners releases harsh chemicals like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, along with smoke, grease, and food particles. To reduce the amount of air contaminants in your home, ensure that the over-the-stove vent is on or that a window is open to allow fresh air inside. Ventilation will help filter out the indoor air pollutants and reduce any symptoms you may experience from the airborne particles.
Buy Indoor Plants
This advice might seem counterintuitive if you are sensitive to pollen, but selecting house plants that help clean indoor air can reduce toxins. Plants are nature’s air filters. They absorb pollutants like radon, secondhand smoke, and carbon monoxide. Ferns are a great option since they don’t bloom or shed many leaves but put out a lot of oxygen. Plus, greenery can brighten any space no matter where you put a plant in your home.
Improving your home’s air quality may seem like a low-priority chore, but it can have profound effects on your family’s well-being and happiness. Airborne contaminants like dust, pollen, dander, and bacteria can worsen specific health problems like migraines and asthma. By taking the time to replace air filters, increase ventilation, or clean and upgrade your HVAC system, you can create a better indoor environment.