Early Spring IAQ in Your Chattanooga Home
At Metro we are big proponents of healthy indoor air quality (IAQ). We’ve discussed the detrimental effects of toxins in the air – and various solutions. However we have yet to cover what can happen to the air in your home over the transitional post-holiday season. We’ve been fortunate in Chattanooga this year as it’s been a mild winter, but that can present a different set of IAQ challenges for your home. Back in November we wrote about using plants to help clean your indoor air. In December we shared a list of common signs that might indicate an unhealthy IAQ. This time we are reviewing the problems stemming from a mild winter and early spring – a combination that can wreak havoc on your indoor air.
Our unseasonably warm winter has prompted early blooming from the local flora, which is great to look at, but bad news for those who suffer from spring allergies. The weather insures one very long allergy season – which can affect your home’s IAQ. If you have people in your household who suffer from allergies, be proactive in fighting those allergens. Shoes, clothing and pets will pick up allergens and contaminate the home. Consider investing in a vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These particular models can filer out 99.7% of small particles in your home. Vacuum all flooring (carpeted, wood and any other surface) at least once a week. If you have animals, vacuum twice a week.
If you own pets that require a certain amount of time outside, they are tracking in allergens. If you are walking a dog twice a day, you are also tracking in allergens – on your shoes and clothing. If you live near a park or an area with considerable plant growth there will be a certain amount of contamination even without pets. Make sure that during this transitional period, you give your dogs a bath on a regular basis. Take off your shoes at the front door and wash your clothing after use. Almost all commercial detergents contain artificial fragrances; consider using a non-toxic detergent to clean your clothes. Also consider buying a pair of athletic shoes just for walking and wash them as often as you wash your pets.
In the spring, it’s always a good idea to open windows for healthy ventilation. But it’s not spring just yet – regardless of what the weather might have you believe. Keep the windows closed for now and focus on dusting your home, which has probably been closed up tight for the winter. The recycled air promotes dust, which has been collecting on your ceiling fans, blinds, wall art and exposed cabinets. Ceiling fans are an especially aggressive dust collector – and can contribute greatly to poor IAQ. Dust your home with a microfiber or electrostatic cloth (both are good for collecting dust particles). Try to use your HEPA vacuum wherever possible, but cloths are good for the places your vacuum can’t reach.
Fear the (Unnatural) Fragrances
Many people use synthetic fragrances to imbue their home with festive scents throughout the holidays. Most of the more popular products on the market (including wax melts and scented oils) emit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that are toxic or potentially hazardous. Some of them are derived from petroleum products and, because of certain FDA loopholes, have never been tested for adverse effects. There are dozens of potentially harmful products that contain VOCs including paint, cleaners and pesticides. But the high concentration of “manufactured scents” during the winter can be especially bad for your IAQ. Consider getting rid of all your air fragrances and explore using non-toxic alternatives – or try making your own from natural products.
We always like to remind our Chattanooga neighbors to replace the filter on their HVAC before there is a seasonal shift in the weather. Our early spring might dictate an additional replacement in May, depending on how much you use your central air. Be sure to replace your filter with a strong polyester/cotton design supporting a MERV (minimum efficiency rating) of around 8 – 12. A high-efficiency filter will help greatly in removing the airborne contaminants that have settled in your home over the winter.
Remember that Metro can help if you are dealing with severe invasive IAQ problems. From mold infiltration to environmental allergies, we have a wide array of IAQ solutions that we can tailor to your individual needs. Call us today at 423-616-1025 or 706-516-1980 and we will schedule a detailed inspection of your indoor air.
Keeping Winter Air Clean with Houseplants
The Gift of Quality Air
Looking to improve your indoor air quality? Metro Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning is the service company you want! Call us today at (423) 616-1025!