As autumn comes rolling in, it’s important to start thinking about your San Bernadino home’s indoor air quality (IAQ). After all, with the cooler temperatures of autumn, you’ll likely be spending more time inside and less time with the doors and windows wide open. Although creating an airtight indoor environment with no air leaks and minimal heat loss is an important fall-time goal, it’s also vital to ensure that the air everyone is breathing is clean. That’s why we’re sharing seven ways to enjoy a consistently high IAQ all throughout the cold-weather season.
1. Don’t Supplement Your Heater With a Wood-Burning Fireplace
Nothing creates a more perfect home ambiance in fall than the sound and smell of a real wood fire. However, if you’ve got a wood-burning fireplace in your home, now is a good time to fill it up with an attractive and environmentally friendly gas-fired insert. Even if you’re good about having your chimney regularly cleaned, few things will diminish the quality of your indoor air like using a wood-burning fireplace. Moreover, with increasing numbers of air quality alerts throughout the region, this is a feature that you’re probably able to use less and less. Gas-burning fireplaces can come with natural-looking logs that snap and crackle realistically once they’ve been turned on. More importantly, these units don’t release harmful toxins and debris into the indoor air, and they can be safely and legally used all of the time.
2. Pay Attention to What You’re Cleaning Your Home With
Many homeowners choose their indoor cleaning products based on factors such as price and aroma. Although your surface cleaners might be easy on the budget and great on the nose, this doesn’t mean that they’re good for your airways. Many store-bought cleaners release a number of harmful contaminants into the indoor air. Worse still, unlike dirt, dust, and other particulates, these chemicals aren’t always caught and retained by the average HVAC air filter. With your home sealed shut to keep the heat in, these are pollutants that can be circulating for a very long time. During fall and winter, you may want to switch to homemade cleaners that include safe, recognizable ingredients such as vinegar and water mixtures, or water with several drops of a quality essential oil mixed in. These creations are cost-effective, easy-to-make, and unlikely to have a negative impact on your home’s IAQ.
3. Have Your HVAC Equipment Tuned Up
A fall-time tune-up of your HVAC equipment is essential. If your furnace is still under warranty, having professional maintenance performed on your heater annually is probably essential for keeping this agreement intact. These services will also remove dirt, dust, and other debris from interior components that you cannot access or effectively clean yourself. They’ll make your heater work more efficiently, and they’ll optimize its filtration and humidity regulation capabilities.
The indoor air is often either much drier during fall, or far more humid. Constantly using the heater with the home sealed shut can leave residents with dry, itchy eyes and skin. Conversely, increases in home entertaining and indoor cooking can leave you with condensation on your windows, and building materials that are at risk of developing mold and structural damages. Making sure that your HVAC system is on top of humidity regulation can greatly improve both indoor comfort and resident health.
4. Upgrade Your HVAC Air Filter
During your fall HVAC service, your technician will replace your HVAC system’s air filter. This is a great time to consider investing in air filters with higher maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings. A higher-rated filter will extract more airborne pollen, pet dander, and dust. Some options can even extract micro-fine particulates and other airborne contaminants that are more prevalent in the winter months. You may need a higher-rated filter or more frequent filter changes if your home is near a freeway or other busy street, if there are properties nearby that have yet to be fully landscaped, or if there’s construction work currently being performed nearby.
For many homeowners, choosing a filter is largely about cost. After all, this component should be changed about once every 30 days, particularly during times when the HVAC system is in use all day long. However, if there’s any one living in your home with a respiratory condition such as:
- Frequent bronchial infections
Paying more for better-performing options is the best solution, especially in fall. A good filter will ensure that the same airborne contaminants aren’t being circulated throughout the living environment again and again. When respiratory health issues exist, fall is also an excellent time to pay for duct cleaning services.
5. Have Your Carpets Cleaned
Airborne particulates can land and settle on your carpeting, your drapes, and on all upholstered furnishings. These indoor elements can keep potentially harmful allergens and irritants trapped for quite some time. During the summer, carpeted floors tend to see high amounts of foot traffic. This can lead to dust and other debris becoming deeply ground-in. Worse still, every time you vacuum or otherwise agitate these surfaces, trapped particulates can become airborne. Having your carpets, drapes, and furnishings professionally cleaned is actually a great way to boost your home’s autumn IAQ. It can also create a cleaner and far fresher-smelling living environment in households with one or more pets. You can additionally put allergy covers on all mattresses, pillows, and upholstered seats to limit problems with dust mites and their leavings.
6. Consider Investing in Supplementary Equipment for Humidity Control
Fall is often a season of explosive dust mite reproduction. Surprisingly, good humidity control can make all the difference. If anyone in your home is prone to allergies or respiratory distress, investing in supplementary humidity control measures is a must. This can prevent problems with stuffiness, itchy, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and more. With advanced humidity control, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard, and no one in the building will have to put up with the discomfort of excessively dry or moist air.
In homes with lots of residents, humidity control can also protect the building itself. Dehumidifying excessively moist living environments can limit the likelihood of certain insect infestations, prevent mold spores and mildew development, and keep building materials from warping, bowing, and buckling. When scheduling your fall service, ask your HVAC technician to assess your humidity control needs. You can get recommendations for budget-friendly and needs-specific equipment that will boost your IAQ and make life a little easier.
7. Invest in a Whole-House Air Purifier
The absolute best way to improve your IAQ in the fall is by investing in a whole-house air purifier. Although HVAC systems filter the air that they circulate, this equipment is rarely designed to actually purify it. While filtration minimizes the number of harmful particulates and contaminants throughout the home, purification actually cleans the indoor air. Air purifiers are designed specifically for improving IAQ, and they can certainly limit the amount of stress that HVAC filters are subjected to. With these units, problems with airborne contaminants caused by indoor use of cleaning agents and other chemicals can be minimized. People with chronic respiratory conditions can breathe easier. Best of all, the home will smell consistently fresh, even when it’s filled with active residents and sealed off from the outside air due to cold temperatures.
At 4 Points A/C & Heating, we’ve been proudly serving the greater San Bernandino, CA, area since 2010. We offer reliable options in heating and cooling services, as well as various options in air quality control. Get in touch with us today to schedule your fall HVAC maintenance, or to find out how we can help you boost your autumn IAQ.