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February 27, 2019
Unless you’re the “wear a down jacket while you cook in your own kitchen” type, you’re keeping your windows closed during the cooler temperatures and rain here in Yolo & Solano County. And while those tightly closed windows are trapping in the heat and keeping you and your family warm, they are also trapping in the dry air and contaminants that are recirculating your home.
What Closed Windows Mean for Your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Your home is supposed to be a safe place. You retreat inside when the weather is bad, and your family spends all your precious moments together under your own roof. Who could blame you for assuming the air you breathe in your home is safer than the air outside? Unfortunately, this is a common a misconception for California homeowners.
Indoor air is estimated to be anywhere from two to five times more contaminated than the air you breathe outdoors. The reason for this is once a harmful contaminant enters your home from the outside, it has nowhere to go but back into your heating and cooling system to be recirculated over and over again. This means the same pet dander, pollen particle, or speck of dust is being inhaled and exhaled time after time. And when your windows are closed, this eliminates any escape route for those harmful allergens, volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), and other annoying contaminants.
The Symptoms of Poor IAQ
The winter brings cooler temperatures, seasonal allergies and precipitation to both Yolo & Solano County, which can be the scapegoat for many of these symptoms. But if you are noticing that these symptoms increase after spending a few hours at home, it could be time to look at solving your IAQ issues. Symptoms include:
Dry skin, throat, & eyes
Sneezing, coughing or other respiratory irritations
What to Do About Poor IAQ
Though the increase in recirculated contaminants, allergens, and germs may be caused by closed windows, the solution does not lie in opening those windows up during the winter! That would negate all of the energy your home heating system uses to keep you and your family comfortable. So what can you do? Take active steps to ventilate your home and purify the air you breathe. Depending on the needs of your particular home, this can be done in a number of ways, starting with your ductwork.
Your ductwork is out of sight, and it should be out of mind. But since the ductwork that is associated with your heating and cooling systems runs throughout the unconditioned areas like your attic, crawlspace and basement, there are a myriad of opportunities for harmful particles to infiltrate your ductwork through holes and gaps that have developed over time. Increasing your IAQ should begin with a thorough ductwork inspection by a professional, who may recommend sealing any cracks or modifying your ductwork.
The air filters of your heating system should be replaced at least every 90 days, and some manufacturers recommend more frequent replacements. A clogged air filter will lose all effectiveness in removing contaminants from the air you breathe and will actually force your furnace to work much harder than it needs to in order to create the heat your home requires. Regularly replacing your air filters will reduce the strain on your furnace and increase the expected life of your equipment.
Ventilation Systems and Air Purification
It may even be necessary to up your game in the fight against poor IAQ with a dedicated ventilation system or air purifier. A ventilation system can be installed in your attic to safely circulate old, stale air back outside. Air purifiers use many different methods — like UV light, ionization, and carbon filters — to kill germs and eradicate harmful contaminants.
Fixing Your IAQ with the Local Guys (And Gals!)
At Greiner, we like to begin our process of making homes healthier by performing a system tune-up to thoroughly check your system & ductwork. This can be included with our comprehensive energy audit, or through a dedicated IAQ test. From there, we will work with you, your family, and your home to develop a customized solution for your IAQ woes. Local expertise is key — so make sure you trust a home performance contractor that knows the local climate. Call the local guys (and gals!) at Greiner!