As the temperatures plummet in Omaha, you and your loved ones might find yourselves spending more time indoors. With doors and windows shut tight against the chilly wintry weather outdoors, your risk of indoor air pollutants and stagnant air skyrockets, especially as the winter progresses. Knowing how the winter can affect your air and how to assess the overall air quality while taking steps to improve it will allow you to breathe more comfortably this season.
Winter Indoor Air Quality Challenges
To keep your home warm, you likely seal it up tightly, but this reduced ventilation can lead to stale air and trapped allergens, irritants, and pollutants, which can spell disaster for those with respiratory conditions.
A poorly maintained heating system can dramatically worsen the problem, accumulating and distributing airborne pollutants throughout your home. Conventional furnaces also dry the air in your home, which can irritate nasal and upper respiratory passages, increasing the risk of everything from nosebleeds to asthma attacks.
You already share your home with numerous sources of air pollutants. For example, cleaning products, candles, and even cooking release numerous byproducts into the air. Since your home is not getting as much fresh air as it might in other seasons, these pollutants build up and accumulate in higher concentrations during the winter.
Combustion appliances, such as your fireplace or gas heater, can also be significant sources of indoor pollution. If the venting is faulty or combustion is incomplete, the appliance could release carbon monoxide and other potentially harmful pollutants into your indoor air.
Assessing Indoor Air Quality
The first step is knowing the state of your indoor air quality. You can call in a professional to tackle this for you. They have the proper tools to measure your home’s air quality and check for mold and moisture. A professional will also assess your humidity levels to determine if they are too low or high.
Once a professional assesses your indoor air quality and determines that you could use some help, they will typically recommend air purification. Several different types of units available, but they do mostly the same things.
First, these units remove particulate matter from your home’s air. In most cases, air purifiers have a HEPA filter. This highly effective filter can trap numerous pollutants, including microscopic particles. For example, they can filter everything from dust and pet dander to pollen and similar airborne pollutants from the air.
Cold and flu season is at its peak during the winter months. Air purifiers may help reduce your risk of these illnesses by helping filter out bacteria and viruses from the air inside your home. If this is a primary concern for you, consider an air purifier with the technology to tackle airborne bacteria and viruses, such as a UV-C light. These lights help to neutralize the pathogens that can get you sick.
If someone in your home has allergies, the stagnant and polluted air during the winter could aggravate respiratory symptoms or even trigger allergies or an asthma attack. Air purifiers work to reduce allergen concentration so that they are not as bothersome to those breathing in the air.
Humidity is a major factor when it comes to indoor air quality. You can find air purification systems that have dehumidifiers or humidifiers built into them. This helps you to balance the humidity levels in your home while also cleaning the air.
Finally, air purification systems help absorb and neutralize the chemicals and odors associated with your daily household activities and gas appliances. Look for a unit that has carbon filters to get the most benefit.
Air Purifier Benefits
Polluted indoor air can make it harder for people to breathe at night, especially if they have existing allergies or respiratory problems, and this could lead to frequent night wakings. Keeping your air cleaner might just help you sleep better at night, and that’s not the only benefit you can expect from your new unit.
Reduced air pollutant levels and balanced humidity make your home healthier for people with asthma, allergies, and similar conditions. With less pollen and dander circulating in your space, your airways may be less inflamed, and you’re less likely to suffer from allergy symptoms. Your skin might be healthier, too, thanks to the proper humidity levels in the air!
Air purification systems may even help provide extra protection from carbon monoxide. While you still need carbon monoxide detectors, air purification systems often have sensors that can also tell you when the levels of this odorless and colorless gas are getting too high.
Choosing an Air Purifier
Air purifiers come in a variety of sizes, so have a professional make note of how much space you have to help you choose the best unit. Manufacturers design these units to cover so much square footage. Because of this, if you have a larger home, you might need more than one unit to reap the most benefits.
The next step is figuring out the right type of filter for your needs. Most of these units come with a HEPA filter and this filter is suitable for most homes. However, if chemicals and odors are a bigger concern than small particles, you might consider a unit with a carbon filter. If you want to neutralize pathogens, you should seek out a unit that has an additional UV-C light. In most cases, you can find units that have this light plus either a carbon or HEPA filter.
Using an Air Purifier Effectively
To get the most out of your air purification system, we recommend following a few simple steps. First, run your purifier continuously so that it is constantly working to cleanse your indoor air and maintain proper humidity levels. You also need to keep the unit positioned properly. A professional can help you determine the best location for your unit and how you can get the most benefit from it.
In addition to air purification, you also should engage in good cleaning habits to remove dust and other pollutants from accumulating on surfaces of your home. Look for products that will not affect indoor air quality and those that do not release volatile organic compounds or VOCs. Your home will benefit from frequent cleaning, but your air purifier will as well. A professional will need to perform regular maintenance to keep your purifier operating at its peak. This process can include replacing or cleaning the filters and ensuring that all the components are clean.
Air Quality Experts in Omaha
The cold Omaha winters keep you indoors for pretty much the entire season. Because of this, you’ll want to ensure that your indoor air is fresh and comfortable for everyone in your home. Our team of experts can assess your indoor air quality and give you some recommendations for how we can help you improve it. Do not forget to give us a call when your home has HVAC, electrical, and plumbing services too.
Contact John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical today to learn more about winter indoor air quality in Omaha and find out how you can keep your home’s air fresh and easily breathable.