As fall ends, most homeowners begin to think about winterizing the home. Storm doors are installed, windows are insulated and the thermostats are checked. But many homeowners don’t think about the air quality in their homes. And many don’t know that air quality is worse indoors during the winter than during the summer. As you think about winterizing your home each year, also consider the air quality you and your family breathe. Here’s why the air quality in your home is worse in the winter, and what you can do about it.
You’ve done a great job winterizing your home. You’ve sealed off drafts and secured your windows. But, unfortunately, your determination has a negative effect as well. As you seal off your home, you’re sealing in contaminants and bacteria. The air which had been circulated to the outdoors is now trapped in your home, causing a decrease in air quality during the winter.
So what can you do about it? One way to solve the problem is to install a heat recovery ventilator. These systems work by taking heat from the air that leaves your home and introduces it to the cool, fresh air that enters it.
The chimney effect, known by HVAC professionals as the stack effect, is another cause for poor air quality indoors during the winter. To summarize the chimney effect, there’s a difference between the density of outdoor and indoor air. During the seasons when you’re running your heater, hot air rises up, seeking a path to the outdoors.
Unfortunately for homeowners, much of that is stale air which originated in your basement. The stagnant air in your basement or crawlspace is filled with contaminants like mildew, mold and bacteria. During the winter, that air is rising into your living space.
To minimize the stack effect in your home, talk to your HVAC professional. He or she can check your system for proper pressurization and make recommendations for any necessary changes. Simply put, your HVAC professional will ensure that there’s more outside air coming into your home than going out.
Winter’s cold, and the outdoors just aren’t appealing. You already know that winterizing your home can trap contaminants indoors. But have you considered how those contaminants increase during the winter?Think about it. Your pets are now indoors. You may now be tempted to smoke indoors. You may occasionally run gas logs or a gas stove without the benefit of extra ventilation. And what’s worst of all is that while all these pollutants are concentrated in your home, you’re actually indoors more.
You can’t do much about the weather. But you can increase the amount of time you and your pets are outdoors. On warmer days, crack open a window to let air circulate and turn on a fan. Most importantly, don’t smoke in the home.
Talk to your HVAC service provider about the air quality in your home; he or she can make specific recommendations for you. Just a few small changes could mean the difference between clean air and poor air quality.