Poor indoor air quality can be hazardous to your family’s health, especially in the winter when most homes don’t circulate as much outdoor air. With indoor air typically containing more dangerous pollutants than you may think, having clean air inside your home is critical for your family’s health. If you are unsure of the quality of air inside your home, here are a few ways you can perform a clean air audit.
You should begin your clean air audit by performing a walkthrough of the home. Take notes of any strange odors or areas where water is leaking—high levels of moisture can contribute to bad air quality. You should also look at your air filters in the HVAC system and replace them if needed. For attics, basements, and crawl spaces, ensure there are no birds nesting and that you have proper screens in place to keep animals from getting inside.
If your appliances use natural gas or propane, it's a good idea to get them serviced every year before winter. The service should include cleaning gas jets and adjusting meters to ensure appliances are working efficiently. This will also help you detect any gas leaks that could prove fatal down the road.
After you have inspected the home for problem areas, you will want to start removing any harmful particles that already exist. Families tend to spend a good majority of the time in the living room and a lot of allergens and pollutants accumulate as a result. You can remove these allergens by performing a deep clean of the carpet and furniture. You can also ventilate the air inside the living room after you clean, allowing any remaining pollutants to escape. Follow the same steps for each room in the house, taking care to clean any fabrics or textured surfaces where dust accumulates.
Allergens and chemicals also tend to collect on floors. A vacuum is a good way to remove these harmful particles and a HEPA filter attachment will ensure that dirt and dust will not make its way back into the air. When vacuuming, make sure you get the walls, furniture, and the edges of carpets. You can also use a mop, with or without cleaning solutions, to help pick up additional dust particles.
High levels of moisture are a breeding ground for mold and dust mites. If you keep the humidity levels under control with a dehumidifier, you can prevent dangerous allergens from forming in the first place. A dehumidifier kept around 40 percent can also reduce the pollen count indoors. To help maximize the use of a dehumidifier, avoid overwatering house plants, fix plumbing leaks, and make sure your dryer is vented outside.
Although proper ventilation is critical to having clean air inside the home, you want to avoid opening windows or doors in the winter. Instead, you want to ventilate in small amounts using special filters whenever possible. This will help keep harmful outdoor pollutants from entering the home while allowing the air some much needed circulation. This also helps you keep more warm air inside the home without driving up energy costs.
Deadly Air Pollutants
Carbon monoxide, secondhand smoke and radon gas are three of the most deadly indoor air pollutants. You can easily battle secondhand smoke by not allowing people to smoke indoors. This is especially crucial if you have children in the home. Carbon monoxide and radon leaks can be fixed by using special detectors that will alarm you whenever there are high levels of gas inside the home.
In addition to the aforementioned steps, there are other ways to ensure the quality of air inside your home. Avoid idling vehicles in the garage during the winter as this can increase the levels of carbon monoxide in the home. You can also use low-VOC paints which do not include volatile organic compounds that tend to leach harmful chemicals, such as acetaldehyde or formaldehyde.