Winter brings more than frigid temperatures and hazardous road conditions. It can also worsen the air quality you breathe in your home. There are various reasons for this, but it essentially comes down to the fact that homes tend to be sealed up in the winter months, recirculating air with minimal ventilation. In addition, you likely spend more time inside during the winter than any other part of the year. This combination can lead to serious health concerns for you and your loved ones. Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimize such issues and improve the condition of the air inside your home.

Reasons for Increased Winter Indoor Air Pollution

Sealing up our homes for the winter is a natural response to the falling temperatures. It only makes sense to close windows and doors, fortify insulation, and utilize a heating system to keep your home comfortable and warm. Unfortunately, these actions do more than conserve heat; they can also trap pollutants inside the walls of your home. Such pollutants include dust, mold, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and trapped moisture. Cold air is denser, which only compounds the problem.

Potential Sources of Pollutants

There are many sources of such pollutants, many of which are particularly tied to the winter season. Heat sources themselves can cause toxins to leech into the air of your home and get trapped there due to lack of ventilation. Byproducts of combustion from boilers, wood stoves, fireplaces, and gas furnaces can include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. Cooking and burning candles can also release harmful gasses and particulates.

VOCs are also released by many household items. These include cleaning products, air fresheners, craft supplies, cosmetics, deodorants, aerosol sprays, paints, and solvents. These can reach dangerously high levels when there is little to no ventilation.

Moisture and mold problems can also be exacerbated during the winter months when the flow of warm air is constant, and ventilation is scarce. Excess moisture can come from several sources, such as leaks, condensation, bathing, or cooking. Accumulations of moisture allow mold and mildew to thrive.

The pollutants and allergens that result from the above sources can cause a host of unwanted health issues. They can be irritating to the eyes, skin, and throat. Some may cause breathing problems, headaches, or nausea. Those with existing allergies may be most negatively affected. In addition, some toxins are known to increase the risk of cancer and other life-threatening medical conditions. They can also cause damage to organs or the central nervous system itself.

Ways to Increase Indoor Air Quality This Winter

With the help of a professional HVAC company, you can take steps to protect your home and its inhabitants from the increased risks associated with poor indoor air quality in the winter.

The first line of defense is to regularly replace your air filter. That should be done a minimum of every three months. If you have pets, live in an area with a lot of dust, smog, or allergens, or have people in the home with respiratory sensitivities, you may want to change them every four to six weeks. Without taking this step, you’ll be circulating dust and allergens throughout your home when you run the furnace. Ask about filters with higher MERV ratings for even better pollutant collection.

Seasonal HVAC system maintenance is another key defense against compromised indoor air quality. Regular tune-ups for your heating and air conditioning systems help them run cleaner and more efficiently.

If you’re concerned about the humidity levels within your home, talk to us about whole-home humidifiers. These are helpful in winter when dry air can keep particulates suspended in the air longer. We can also recommend air purifying systems. Air scrubbers eliminates 99.7% of particulates from the air. These systems can help keep your home cleaner and smelling fresher.

Professional Indoor Air Quality Services

Winter can take a tremendous toll on the air quality inside your home. Fortunately, a professional HVAC company like Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, LLC can provide the assistance you need to breathe easy all season long. In addition to air quality products, we provide a host of comprehensive HVAC services throughout the year, including heating and AC repair, replacement, and maintenance. Located in Billings, MT, and serving the surrounding area, we welcome you to contact us today for all your HVAC needs.

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