One of the most common complaints many people have during the winter is not the cold outside – it’s the dry, scratchy air inside! Indoor air quality problems are typically at their highest in the winter, because you’re less likely to spend time outside or have your windows open. Dry air can have its own problems, including drying out your wood floors and furniture and making it difficult to breathe, especially for people with allergies and asthma. But being indoors with almost no ventilation can cause other issues, namely the buildup of indoor air pollutants!
The most common indoor air pollutants are:
Biological pollutants – these include things like mold, pet dander, pollen, bacteria and dust mites. Many people are allergic to one or several of these, and being stuck inside with them all day can make their symptoms worse.
Dust – No matter how much you vacuum and dust, it never seems to get rid of everything. Fortunately, a strong air filter can keep a lot of dust out of your home.
Combustion gases – While you’re almost always burning some kind of fuel in your home, you typically burn more in the winter (if you use a gas furnace). Burning fuel produces carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are normally vented harmlessly outside but can be deadly if they leak into your home.
Click here to read more about installing a carbon monoxide detector.
Tobacco smoke – Even if you don’t smoke inside, there’s still a risk of pollutants from smoke getting into your home. The most common pollutants that can get in include carbon monoxide and formaldehyde.
Pesticides and chemicals – If you had to spray for bugs at any time over the summer, be careful – fumes from those chemicals can linger in your home long after the pests are gone. Even chemicals you use to freshen up your home, including air fresheners and cleaning products, can contribute to your indoor air quality woes.
What makes winter so much worse for indoor air quality?
All these chemicals and pollutants are present in your home all year round – so what makes the winter so much worse? It’s simple: from spring to fall, you can keep the windows open to maintain good ventilation, and you stay outside a lot more. During the winter, windows stay shut to keep the freezing cold air out, and you stay inside most of the day – a recipe for indoor air pollutant buildup. Fortunately, there are things you can do to combat poor indoor air quality and stay healthy and comfortable all winter long.
First, make sure your filters are fresh and clean. Air filters, as we’ve mentioned numerous times, are designed to trap indoor air pollutants before they can escape into your air. Needless to say, in the winter they fill up much faster! Keep on top of your filters by replacing them monthly during the winter. If you find there are still a lot of pollutants coming through, go for a filter with a higher MERV rating – maybe 5 – 6. These will trap more, but they’ll also fill up much faster, so make sure you keep an eye on them.
If you want more protection than just a filter can provide, consider installing an indoor air cleaner! At Michael Bonsby Heating & Air Conditioning, we install all kinds of indoor air cleaners – call today for more information!
If you live in Maryland or Washington, DC and want to install an indoor air cleaner or need help choosing a filter level, call Michael Bonsby Heating & Air Conditioning today!