Virginia & Maryland Heating & Air Conditioning

Five Indoor Air Quality Hazards during Winter

When winter brings cold temperatures to the state of Virginia, residents everywhere respond by closing up their homes, firing up the furnace, and waiting it out until the weather starts to improve. This is fairly normal, but unfortunately has some consequences, especially when it comes to your indoor air quality. Few people realize that the air inside their home is often many times worse in terms of quality than the air outside, and the problem is only magnified during winter when doors and windows remain shut in order to keep the life-sustaining heat where it belongs.

On this blog, we’ll talk a little more about five of the factors which can cause your indoor air quality to suffer during winter and what you can do to keep

Indoor Odors

When you don’t have the ability to open doors and windows to allow fresh air in and stale indoor air out, indoor odors can accumulate and settle. When they settle, they become stale. This is especially true for those who often cook with strongly-scented foods like bacon or broccoli, where the odor can linger for hours or even days after the cooking has completed.

The worst part about indoor odors: you may forget they’re even there. After a while, it’s easy to become accustomed to the smells in your home, but guests will notice them straight away. And they’re usually anything but pleasant. Lighting scented candles or incense is one way to try and mask the smell, but again it’s usually only a temporary measure and sometimes can only add to the collection of clashing smells that are accumulating. The best way to keep your home fresh and odor free during these months is with ventilation equipment, which is designed to filter fresh air into your home without sacrificing the heat you depend on.

Mold & Mildew

Mold and mildew are generally a tougher problem during particularly humid weather, which is common during summer, but winter is not immune to these problems either. This is largely because any mold colonies will continue to produce spores, and those spores will continue to circulate throughout your home because of the lack of fresh air brought in from outside. Because of this, any standing moisture such as pipe leaks, dripping water heaters, and more can all become huge sources for mold growth.

Black mold in particular is dangerous because it is toxic and can cause negative health effects. Making sure the air in your home remains dry and comfortable is one thing, but the best way to prevent mold growth is to make sure any spills are quickly cleaned and any leaks that could cause water damage to things like drywall, curtains, or other organic material is resolved.

Dust

Dust tends to accumulate heavily over winter. Especially when everyone spends so much more time indoors, dust contributors like dead skin, lint, and other small particulate matter all build up and settle on various surfaces throughout your home. It doesn’t take much to disturb settled dust, sending it floating through the air where it can trigger allergies and even asthma attacks.

Regular dusting and cleaning can help reduce this problem, as can making sure that your air filter in your HVAC system is in good condition. Be sure to check it every month and change it as needed to ensure your system continues to filter out as much dust as possible.

Bacteria

Believe it or not, standing outside in the cold isn’t what usually causes you to catch the common cold. No, in fact it’s usually the opposite: spending so much time inside with other people who are ill is what causes the disease to spread like wildfire. And the common cold isn’t the only sickness that tends to sprout up during winter—many others also proliferate because of airborne bacteria that simply continues to circulate throughout the average home.

Special HVAC filters can help remove this problem, but truthfully they’re expensive and may cause your furnace to run less efficiently during the winter months. Unless you or your family are particularly sensitive or have a condition that compromises their immune system, they’re not usually worth it. Instead, simply focus on making sure your immune system stays strong with supplements and plenty of vitamin C during the winter months and you shouldn’t have a problem keeping the sickness away.

Smoke

For many smokers, the cold temperatures outside make it difficult to go outside and enjoy a cigarette. Rather than take considerable time to bundle up just for a five minute smoke break, many will simply smoke indoors during these months. This leads to all sorts of problems, including toxic chemicals in the air like carbon monoxide, smoke odors, added dust, and much more.

It may not seem like fun, but keeping your smoking to outside only can significantly improve your indoor air quality during the coldest months of winter.

If your indoor air is causing you to suffer this winter, call the Sterling HVAC repair experts at Donmar Heating & Cooling at (703) 457-8676 for a quality solution!
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