Keeping Fresh Air During Winter

Home Inspector with Prokore Inspections

As I wrote in my last post winter is the season for being cozy, sitting next to a warm fireplace and maybe sipping a cup or two of cider. But while spending long days and nights inside the comfort of our homes it's also an infamous time for feeling dry and under-the-weather. With people spending more time indoors, air circulation is compromised, and the level of contaminants increases. Fleeting freshness and moisture take a toll on our skin, throats, noses and overall health, and can be especially harmful to those suffering from allergies and asthma.

Up to 72 trillion microscopic irritants, or allergens, find their way into your home every day. They include dust, pollen, pet hair and dander, dust mites, mildew, lint, fungus, most tobacco smoke, cooking grease and bacteria. Many of these particles are undetectable by your nose and throat, and can get deep into your lungs. This year, be proactive in creating a safer indoor environment for your family and guests by following these few quick fixes.

A whole-home air filtration system, can remove up to 99.98 percent of unwanted particles and allergens from a home's filtered air, a benefit that no standard 1-inch throwaway filter or ionic-type room appliance can match. These systems are designed to work as part of your heating and cooling system, meaning they're designed to clean the filtered air in every room of your home. Air filtration systems work behind the scenes to keep you breathing easier and feeling healthier year-round.

Routine maintenance to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is equally - if not more - critical to keeping the indoor air quality of your home safe and systems operating at peak efficiency. Changing or cleaning your filters regularly will minimize the introduction of dust and other contaminants into your home. Check your owner's manual or contact an HVAC professional to determine the appropriate filter schedule for your system. In addition, an HVAC professional can perform a routine maintenance checkup to ensure all components of your HVAC system are operating properly, and advise you on ways to improve the safety and comfort of your home.

Why so darn dry? The chill of outside air has a relatively low dew point. When we bring that outside air inside and heat it, even more moisture is sucked from the air, making your body uncomfortably dry. If overaly dry conditions occur in your home, consider looking into a humidifier.

Extra tips for a happier, healthier, warmer winter:
* Reverse the switch on your ceiling fans so they blow upward, toward the ceiling. By doing so, you will reduce cooling drafts and force naturally rising heat back down into the room.

* Add a touch of green. House plants are a small, but natural a source of oxygen.

* On pleasant or mild winter days pop open windows slightly for 15 minutes to break stale or musty air.

* Turn the heat down in your shower. Hot water may feel amazing on a cold winter morning, but it contributes to the dryness of your skin.

Now that you're ready to beat the bummer of another cold Minnesota winter, your family can enjoy spending time together. And before you know it New Year's will pass on Friday and it will be time to pull shorts and swimsuits out of winter storage.


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Posted By: Randy King - Principal Inspector - Progressive Property Inspections

Proudly offering property inspection services to the following south central Minnesota Communities:

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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Randy, good post---we could all do a lot to improve the air quality of our homes by installing whole-house air exchange/filtration systems---should be required in all homes.  The mold "industry" wouldn't like it much though :)

Dec 29, 2010 06:13 AM #1
Victor Zuniga
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - San Diego, CA

Maintaining good air quality and moisture content is crucial in avoiding allergens and mold issues later on. Better to pay a bit now than a lot later.

Dec 29, 2010 06:21 AM #2
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

Good post.  I've been writing a blog complaining about how furnace filters aren't designed to keep the air clean, despite what furnace filter manufacturers imply.  Personally, I'm not a fan of whole house humidifiers; I just find way too many problems with houses that have them.  How 'bout you?

Dec 29, 2010 02:31 PM #3
Randy King
Prokore Inspections - Mankato, MN

Charles - Thanks for the kind words.

Reuben - I agree. In most instances I have found more of an issue associated with humidifiers, generally allocated to the fact that home owners just fail to adjust them according to the current climate/season. I do however think they can be beneficial in the right instance, wood floors, person or persons in the household suffering from dry or bloody noses etc. Hope you had a good holiday, one of these days I will manage to get up your way to an ASHI meeting and we will have to finally meet in person and chat. Hope you and the Structure Tech team have a safe and prosperous new year!

Dec 29, 2010 02:41 PM #4
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