Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is a common health risk, according to the EPA and CDC. Spring is a period when IAQ concerns are high due to allergies, increased particulate matter and elevated ozone levels. With that in mind, let’s explore the ways you can better protect yourself and your family.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is an opportunity to give your home a deep clean. Your main focus should be eliminating as much dust as possible. This is a great time to have all carpets and rugs professionally cleaned. Clean and wash curtains, drapes and shades. Clean out your dryer and degrease kitchen exhausts. This is also an excellent time to clean and sanitize mattresses and upholstered furniture.


Much of the air pollution in our homes comes from dust. Dust is not just particulate matter. It’s a mix of dead skin, hair, clothing fibers, mold, soil particles, pollen and bugs. The EPA recommends a deep dusting of your home at least once a week. Dust every room from top to bottom using a microfiber duster. Pay particular attention to dust traps, such as knickknack shelves. Then, vacuum all carpets and floors. Ideally, you should use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter and/or bag. This will ensure that you collect the dust and don’t just recirculate it.

Duct Cleaning

No matter how regularly you dust, dust will accumulate in your ductwork. Over time, that accumulation can lead to persistent bad odors in the home and diminished air quality. The industry recommendation is to have your ducts professionally inspected and cleaned every several years or so. The right timing for your home will depend on the size of the house and the household.

Spring HVAC Tune-Up

Your spring HVAC tune-up is a convenient time to schedule duct cleaning. But even if you don’t need your ducts cleaned this year, you should schedule seasonal maintenance. Do this before needing to run your air conditioner or heat pump for cooling. Your HVAC technician will perform a multi-point inspection and calibration but also clean the equipment. This includes removing all the dust and grime that can affect air quality when you run the system.

HVAC Filters

Every central HVAC system has at least one supply vent with a filter. It helps to keep the HVAC equipment clean and avoid recirculating dust throughout the home. Your HVAC technician will change this filter for you during your seasonal tune-up. You should also check the filter each month as soon as you start to run your air. If you can see a significant buildup of dust, it’s time to swap it out.


There is a myriad of ventilation considerations. If you have the opportunity to air out your home in spring, you should. But consider investing in pollen screens for your windows and doors. You should also monitor the Air Quality Index for your area. On days when the AQI is above 100, keep your windows and doors cleaned. Rely on your ventilation system and, if necessary, AC instead.

Make sure that you have adequate ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms and that you use it. Turn kitchen exhausts on as soon as you start to cook. Leave them on until 10 minutes after you’ve finished.

Modern construction techniques allow for energy-efficient homes. A downside is that this approach eliminates much of the natural ventilation you get in older homes. This can result in higher concentration levels of pollutants. One way to combat this is through a mechanical ventilation system. These recovery ventilators have the added benefit of improving the energy efficiency of the HVAC system.

Whole-Home Air Purifier

The best way to combat indoor air pollution is through a whole-house air purification system. Your HVAC technician can integrate it into your current heating and cooling system. It will take advantage of your existing air handler and ductwork to provide clean air throughout your home. The typical whole-home air purifier has three stages: prefiltration, activated carbon filtration and HEPA filtration.

The pre-filter blocks large particulate matter (PM) to protect the system and extend the life of your more expensive filter media. The activated carbon stage removes odors in addition to gases, chemicals and VOCs. The HEPA filter removes 99.97% of PM down to 0.3 microns in size. That PM includes pollen and other allergens but also the fine particles linked with cardiovascular and lung diseases. You can also opt for a medical-grade HEPA filter. It will remove 99.995% of all PM down to 0.1 microns.

UV Lamps

UV-C is a germicidal light effective at neutralizing bacteria, viruses, mold spores, fungal spores, dust mite eggs and so on. You can opt for a whole-home air purifier with a UV stage. The issue there is that mechanical and absorptive filtration are more effective with higher airflow. UV filtration is more effective with lower airflow because the microorganisms have more time to circulate near the light. That is why most IAQ experts recommend installing UV lamps in your ducts.

Whole-Home Dehumidifier

You may also want to consider a whole-house dehumidification system. Your technician can integrate a standalone humidifier into your HVAC system. You can also opt for an air purifier-humidifier combo unit.

Relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air relative to the temperature. The EPA recommends maintaining an RH between 30% and 50%. Air with less moisture will have less airborne PM. An optimal RH results in easier breathing, less respiratory irritation and better sleep. It also makes your home less hospitable to mold, dust mites and many other pests.

Indoor Air Quality Monitor

Consider upgrading to a smart thermostat with humidity and IAQ monitoring. A smart thermostat will lower your cooling costs and reduce how often your system needs to run. The IAQ sensor will warn you of elevated PM levels, CO, CO2, VOCs, radon, etc.

Source Control

Pollution in the home isn’t limited to outdoor pollutants that get inside. Many homeowners inadvertently introduce pollutants, such as through the use of household cleaners and air fresheners. One way to avoid this is to focus on purchasing cleaning and air freshening products made from natural ingredients. Avoid purchasing furniture and other house items that can off-gas VOCs. Keep your pets bathed and groomed to avoid excess dander. Also, don’t overwater your plants. Houseplants are a great way to clean and deodorize indoor air naturally. But if you overwater them, you can introduce mold spores to your air.

Indoor Air Quality Pros in Lincoln and Omaha

If you want to improve your IAQ in Lincoln, Omaha or the surrounding areas, John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical is here to help. Our HVAC technicians also install, service and repair all manner of heating and cooling equipment. That includes ducted, ductless, multi-zone, geothermal and hydronic systems. Our plumbers clean drains and install water heaters, water filters, water softeners and sump pumps. We also have electricians who upgrade electrical panels and install lighting, surge protection, generators and EV charging stations. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a service appointment or an in-home consultation.

Meet the Author
Jared Rohrs
Jared Rohrs

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