Your home is one of the safest places to be when it comes to preventing sickness with proper cleaning, maintenance and ventilation in place. We want to believe that our homes are clean, but no matter how hard we work wiping and scrubbing surfaces, the air around us can still be polluted with all kinds of harmful, irritating substances. The key to protecting yourself from indoor pollution is ventilation.
Ventilation is Important for a Healthy Home
Good ventilation can come naturally for a well-built home, or you may have to work at it a little, but either way, it’s necessary for the health of your family.
Ventilation keeps humidity low, reduces odors and, most importantly, lessens the chance of illness.
During warmer times of the year, ventilating your home keeps humidity low, prevents mold growth, and removes pollen and other allergens from the indoor air. In cold weather, home ventilation filters out viruses that thrive in cool, dry weather.
In the next section, Pure Maintenance of St. Louis shares some easy ways to improve the ventilation in your home throughout the year.
How to Improve Ventilation
The tips below will work well for your entire home or for a single, problematic room.
Use Fans to Improve Ventilation
Set up a fan to point towards an exhaust source like an open window if possible to speed up the flow of air circulation in a particular room. Avoid pointing the fan toward people in the room, as this can direct pollutants right into their faces.
This technique includes the use of ceiling fans. We recommend running your ceiling fans at all times to keep the air moving. You can then use other techniques to remove those particles. (Don’t forget to clean your fans regularly!)
Utilize Your Exhaust Fans
Exhaust fans are standard for bathrooms and kitchens, so why not take advantage of them? You can, of course, run exhaust fans while the room is in use, but you should leave them on for an hour or so afterward as well to fully remove unwanted particles.
Your exhaust fans can be beneficial for adjoining rooms, too. A bathroom exhaust fan, for example, can help ventilate the air in a connected bedroom. Close the bedroom door and leave the fan running for 1-2 hours for best results.
Host Gatherings Outdoors
If a global pandemic taught us anything, it was how to have large gatherings safely. If you are planning a family holiday or birthday party, consider having it outside if the weather is nice, or plan to have it in a large, open facility.
This protects your home from outside pollutants that other people may bring in. It also protects your ventilation system from becoming overwhelmed due to extra people and more frequent opening and closing of the doors.
Purchase a Portable HEPA Filter
A portable HEPA filter system is practically a requirement for homes without an HVAC system, because these homes have no other way to filter the air. It can also serve as extra filtration for a certain area of a home that has an HVAC system.
The major benefit of a portable HEPA filter is that it can be moved anywhere there is an air quality issue. Portable HEPA filters are a good investment for renters and people who move frequently.
Change Your HVAC Filters Regularly
Change the filters every 3 months, but check them more often to make sure they are still functioning. When you change these filters, make sure you are buying the right size and installing them correctly so they fit snuggly. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a gap where unfiltered air can flow through.
Other HVAC tips for good ventilation include having the entire system checked yearly by a professional. We also recommend leaving the fan on all the time, even when heat and air are not running, in order to constantly filter the air.
Let Fresh Air in and Dirty Air Out
Today’s homes are built with amazing efficiency… so amazing, in fact, that our homes are no longer able to “breathe” the way older homes could.
Although houses build 30+ years ago were not as energy efficient as today’s homes, they did have the advantage of allowing some outdoor air to enter and escape naturally. The result of this was actually cleaner indoor air.
To mimic this, open your doors and windows on clear, low humidity days to let polluted indoor air outside. This takes some of the pressure off your HVAC system, and it can instantly improve the smell of indoor air. Screens can keep pests out while allowing for plenty of air exchange.
If you’d rather not open the windows, you can install a window exhaust fan. Most models have the dual function of pulling outdoor air inside (filtered, of course) as well as pushing indoor air outside. This simple yet effective device can easily balance the humidity in a room, regulate the temperature, and remove particles from the air.
Effects of Poor Ventilation
If your home has poor ventilation, you are opening yourself up to a whole host of health problems, and, in addition, you can find yourself dealing with expensive, unnecessary home maintenance services. One example of this is mold and mold remediation.
Homes with poor ventilation are inclined to mold growth because they typically have high humidity and plenty of organic particles for mold to feed on. You can exhaust yourself with traditional cleaning methods, but if the air is not clean, you are fighting a losing battle.
Poor air quality is another issue for homes with poor ventilation. Indoor air pollution is responsible for shortness of breath, coughing, blurry vision, increased risk for respiratory illness, and poor sleep.
Sources of indoor air pollution include the following:
- Asbestos insulation
- Pressed wood furniture and cabinets
- New flooring, carpet, or paint
- Chemicals – cleaners, toiletries, hobbies
- Outdoor pollution
Fortunately, all of these pollutants can be easily removed from your home with the ventilation techniques above.