During the winter months in the Mid-Atlantic area, the temperatures often drop below freezing, and the humidity levels go down as well. This area includes Hagerstown, Maryland, where many residents struggle to maintain a comfortable and healthy indoor atmosphere in their homes. If you’re dealing with poor air quality and dry air in the winter months, then it’s time to learn why good IAQ matters. Check out this guide to improving the health and comfort of the home.
Why Does Air Quality Drop in the Winter?
Tasks associated with keeping the home warm, such as increasing the insulation and filling in gaps that allow air to leak in, can result in poor ventilation. Contaminants no longer have any way to escape, causing them to gather indoors and multiply at a faster rate. Keeping windows and doors closed throughout the cold season can also result in a higher volume of indoor contaminants in the air.
Some of the most common contaminants that impact your home’s air include bacteria, dust mites, pet hair, dander, biological growth spores, and viruses. Exposure to these in the air you breathe can cause allergic symptoms, including congestion, sore throats, headaches, eye irritation, and skin rashes. Since some of these symptoms are also associated with the common cold, many people believe they’re simply coming down with the virus. However, when your symptoms are only present when you’re indoors, it’s likely the air is to blame.
Schedule HVAC Maintenance
Your HVAC system plays a major role in the quality of the air within your home. During the winter, the air is naturally drier, and moving through the heating system doesn’t help the situation. If the furnace contains any dust or other allergens, these can move through the air as it goes through the vents to heat up your home, resulting in poor indoor air quality.
Keeping up with HVAC maintenance can help ensure that your system is functioning properly. A technician will inspect the components, replace or repair anything as needed, and perform some light cleaning to remove dirt and debris from the inside of the unit. HVAC equipment manufacturers recommend having both the heating and cooling system tuned up once per year, usually before you start using each system more frequently to adjust to the weather changes.
Have the Ducts Cleaned
The ductwork in your home also impacts the quality of the air you breathe. The air from the heating system moves through the ducts, where it can leave behind dirt, dust, dander, pollen, and other allergens. When the ducts become overloaded with debris, the air can no longer move through them freely. This problem causes poor efficiency in your system, which often manifests with high utility bills, as well as a drop in the indoor air quality. A professional duct cleaning service will resolve this issue.
Change the Filter
One of the easiest ways to make sure the air in your home is clean and healthy is to always have a functional, clean air filter within your HVAC system. Heated and cooled air moves through the filter, which traps particles and prevents them from entering the system. When the filter is overloaded, it can no longer trap those allergens, allowing them to settle in your ductwork and HVAC system.
You should replace your air filter at least every month or two. If anyone in your home suffers from allergies, you may want to replace it even more frequently and use a filter with a higher MERV rating, which can filter out smaller particles for improved air quality.
Add More Humidity
A lack of humidity in the air during the winter season can also impact the quality of your home’s air. In fact, exposure to more heated air due to more time spent indoors can cause your skin to feel dry, tight, and uncomfortable. Low indoor humidity levels can also result in damage to wood furniture and flooring, as well as increase the static electricity and dust in your house. If you’re experiencing a problem with low humidity levels, consider using a humidifier to add more moisture to the air.
Better Living Through Good IAQ
If you’re struggling with the quality of your indoor air this winter, our team at Griffith Energy Services can make sure your heating system isn’t to blame, so contact us today and ask about our Air Knight indoor air filtration system.
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