Breathing Easy While Trapped Inside

Your floors may be spotless, and your windows may sparkle, but your home is only as clean as its air.

With so many of us staying home, trying to entertain the kids, and watching carefully for any signs of COVID-19, it has never been more important to be aware of your home’s indoor air.

Some of the common effects of indoor air pollution include headaches, fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Some people experience an increase in their allergies, sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath.

If those symptoms sound familiar, you aren’t imagining it. Poor indoor air quality can cause many symptoms similar to COVID-19, leading to a lot of unnecessary worry and discomfort.

People suffering from asthma, severe allergies or COVID-19 may experience symptoms more severely.

Here are some steps you can take to keep the air in your home clean and easy to breathe:

Root out the source of the pollution.

Minimize carpeting to reduce the nesting environment for dust mites and other microscopic pests. Clean rugs and carpets with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum weekly. Use non-toxic products for your cleaners, pest control, air fresheners, and fabric fresheners. Essential oil diffusers are a great way to freshen the air naturally.

Eliminate mold.

Mold can cause a number of health problems including wheezing, sore throat, headaches and respiratory distress. Bathrooms and kitchens are highly susceptible to mold due to high humidity. Turn on the exhaust fan after showering and the fan over your stovetop on when cooking to help draw the humidity out of the room.

Small areas of mold can be cleaned with diluted household bleach or other cleaners. If the mold covers several square feet or is in difficult to clean areas, then it is time to call a professional mold remover to make sure your family is protected.

Keep your sheets and clothes clean.

Dust mites, pet dander, pollen and other irritants collect on the fabrics in your home such as bedding, clothes, curtains, and carpets. Cleaning these fabrics regularly to get those irritants out of your air will help reduce the effects on allergies and asthma.

Increase air flow/ventilation.

Air flow and proper ventilation can be helpful in clearing pollutants out of your home. Our homes are built to be energy efficient, but most heating and cooling systems do not mechanically bring fresh air into the home. Open a window or install attic fans to draw in outside air and get air moving through your home. Turning on the kitchen and bathroom fans will help to draw more outside air in and increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.

Install an air purifier.

Air purifiers are another way to clean up stale indoor air. Placing them in common rooms will help clean the air in these areas. For whole home air cleaning a UV light may work better. A UV light will kill microbes as they pass through the system. These are especially helpful to combat allergies. Many hospitals and medical facilities use UV lights to keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Adding a UV light to your HVAC system, can help clean the system and your indoor air.

Groom pets regularly.

Pet dander is a common culprit for many allergies, asthma, and other indoor air quality issues. Pet dander is dead skins cells, hair and dirt shed by your pet. Regularly bathe and brush your pet, as well as, vacuuming all carpets, floors, and furnishings with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum.

Make sure your HVAC system is serviced and the filter changed. As a forced-air system, your HVAC system blows air throughout your home via ductwork to regulate the temperature.

Your system’s air filter is what keeps dust out of the equipment, out of the ductwork and out of your air.

One of the most common causes of system failures is an extremely dirty air filter. Changing your filter regularly will help your equipment run at peak efficiency and keep the air in your home cleaner. A MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) 8 filter will give you the balance you need of good air flow and clean air.

Check your air filter monthly, especially in the heavy heat and heavy cooling seasons. It is recommended that you have an HVAC profession clean and check your equipment at the start of the heating and cooling seasons to ensure your system is ready to do its job to help keep your indoor air clean and comfortable.

If your home’s ducts come up through your floor, the registers are typically easy to pull up. Use the hose attachment on your vacuum to clean out anything that may have fallen through the register. You will be amazed what treasures you might find in there. (Serve Daily submission.)

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