While winter can be a very beautiful season we tend to spend most of our time indoors when the cold season arrives. It can be fun to nest, watch movies with the kids, and focus on low key activities but in the middle of everything one concern we should be aware of is the state of our indoor air.
Think about it. If most of our existence takes place in spaces with doors closed and windows shut mostly air tight the air we breathe can often become stale or worse, – tainted with particles that affect our health. This is especially true for those of us with small children whose respiratory systems are still developing and for whom cleaner air means less risk of issues developing.
For this reason as the winter progresses it’s important to keep a few things in mind that will help us monitor the air we breathe and alert us to any problems that arise along the way.
5 Steps to Cleaner Air
Use Natural Cleansers
When it comes to doing chores around the home, think twice before using standard household cleansers as many contain harsh chemicals which give off noxious fumes. Those fumes can be the source of headaches and other ailments which can be particularly potent in children.
For this reason, it’s best to use eco-friendly brands which may still give off odors but are generally less evasive because of the natural ingredients. Anything else requires good ventilation to ensure the air space is safe for everyone.
Since you may be spending so much time inside you may think it’s a great time to do some remodeling like changing the color of the living room. As a good painter will tell you one of the best precautions that can be taken is making sure the space is well ventilated. This goes for both while on the job and when the room is drying.
Service the Burner
Does your home’s heat come from a furnace or burner in the basement? If so it’s important to have it serviced at least once a year. When it’s functioning well everything should be flowing smoothly but when parts get old or are in need of repair the burning of fuel can become a dangerous element converting into harsher fumes that will spread throughout a home.
With winter weather in many parts of the country often unforgiving having a professional take a look will help assess the wear and tear from previous years.
Central air systems are truly amazing and make our lives much more comfortable in both hot and cold weather. The thing to watch out for, though, is that filters don’t get filled with dirty particles which can be re-circulated into the breathable space. When this occurs the likelihood that our families end up breathing them in is high.
How often should filters be checked? The timing really depends upon how much they are used but a good schedule is once a month. NOTE: While filters are one end of a heating system vents are another. Over time they collect dust and should be periodically wiped down.
Furnishings for Cleaner Air
Finally, one of the lesser known ways indoor air can become tainted is through household furnishings. Yes, believe it or not everything from carpets to bedding to the furniture we store our clothing in may be manufactured with ingredients such as formaldehyde, which emits potent odors into the air.
In fact, a good way to tell if something may be in this category is if it has that well known ‘brand new’ smell. If so it’s a clear indication chemicals were involved in the manufacturing process and although the smells may dissipate over time the source chemical is still present.
The best way to get around this is buy furnishings that are made from all wood and are certified eco-friendly. At the very least consider this when purchasing dressers or beds for children who may be more sensitive to such chemicals.
Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for Networx.com. He blogs for pros across the U.S. like heating contractors in Scottsdale, AZ.