Summer’s a time to enjoy the fresh air. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case in your home. In many cases, indoor air quality is worse than outdoors. And, since people spend approximately 90 percent of their time inside, indoor air pollution is important to consider.
The air is often dirtier inside because pollutants that make their way into your home can’t circulate back out. Instead, they build up or even grow, inside the home. In the summer, their presence is even more noticeable.
In the summer, there are naturally more allergens like pollen floating around in the warmer months. When you use an air conditioner, you keep the windows shut. That prevents contaminants that make it in from circulating out of the house.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to improve the quality of the air inside your home. They range from simple, cost-free ideas to small products to significant investments. Which ones you’ll need to use will depend on how sensitive you are to irritants in the air and how severe a problem is in your home.
Here are some common factors that affect air quality and how to change them.
Keep Your Cooling System Clean For Better Summer Air Quality
You can improve the air quality in your home by making sure your HVAC system is in great shape. Once you turn on a central air conditioner, it will circulate air throughout your home. You want to make sure that air is as clean as possible.
The easiest way to start this is by changing the air filter. It prevents contaminants such as dust and dirt from getting the vents and making its way through the house. But, if it’s clogged the filter won’t do its job correctly.
On average, you should change your filter every month that you’re using the system. Changing it is also an opportunity to improve air quality even more.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, for instance, you can consider getting a stronger one that blocks more particles. Different models can also trap pet fur and dander before it circulates throughout the house. And, some high-end filters don’t require changing as often as regular ones.
Cleaning out your air conditioner itself can also make a big difference. An outdoor unit has likely spent a few months collecting leaves, pollen, dust, and other debris. Turning it right on means particles from those objects will make their way through your system — along with anything that’s started to grow as a result of them.
You can call a professional to clean the unit. Or, if you’re handy and it’s not too dirty, you can do it yourself. Start by unplugging the outdoor unit. Then, remove that top and clean out anything inside it.
Then, use a toothbrush or similar tool to clean in between the fins on the outside of the unit. You can carefully use a kitchen knife to straighten out any that are bent. Finally, check the hoses for signs of damage.
If everything looks okay, you should be all set to turn on the ac. However, if it’s especially dirty or you see damage to the hoses, call a professional.
Improve Indoor Air Quality By Getting Rid Of Airborne Allergens
Pet dander, pollen and dust mites are major culprits when it comes to allergies. These allergens cause what’s commonly called “hay fever.” Really, that’s seasonal allergy symptoms that are similar to those of the flu. Indoor air quality in the summer plays a prominent role in how bad those symptoms get.
The tiny particles travel through the air, especially if you keep the windows open. Therefore, you can alleviate allergy symptoms by improving your air quality. There are a few ways to achieve this.
You can start by establishing a specific and regular cleaning routine during allergy season. It should include cleaning carpets, curtains and linens every week. Allergens collect on these surfaces. They’ll cause trouble from there, and spread further if you kick them up.
Next, wipe down surfaces with a damp cloth. This is much better than a dusting. A feather duster or dry cloth will only kick the allergens back into the air. Instead, use some moisture wipe down tables, countertops, windowsills and the tops of doors.
If this isn’t enough, you can consider an air purifier. These can treat either a single or room or your entire house. Air purifiers use special filters that trap all those tiny particles like dander and pollen that travel through the air.
The purification systems are designed to draw in air continually and clean it. And, they will catch many more particles than the average HVAC filters for your furnace or air conditioner.
Control Summer Humidity For Better Indoor Air Quality
Humidity plays an important role when it comes to indoor air quality. It’s especially significant in the summer when the air is often more humid than in the colder months. Too much moisture in the air negatively affects your health.
Air in the summer is more humid than in the winter. That’s because warm air can hold more water vapor than cold air.
All that moisture can help create a breeding ground for mold, mildew, bacteria and fungi. These thrive in dark, moist places. High humidity can make any out-of-the-way spot in your home a breeding ground for these.
From there, mold and mildew release spores into the air. For people with mold allergies, they trigger hay fever symptoms. These include a runny nose, red eyes and possibly shortness of breath or fatigue.
Similarly, people with asthma may have an asthma attack. They can occur when the spores make it to the lungs.
In the summer, air conditioners can both help and hurt in this situation. On the one hand, an ac pulls moisture from the air and circulates air that’s less humid. But, if you’re using an air conditioner, you’ll have your windows closed. That traps the spores inside.
Fortunately, there are other ways to control summer humidity. First, know the problem signs. If you have clammy skin, notice fog on the windows or smell a musty odor, you may have to make some changes.
To start with, open some windows if you’ve had them closed. Use fans to increase air circulation even further. If you have house plants, move them all to one room. They release moisture, so keeping them contained will reduce overall water vapor.
Try to take faster showers and cover cooking pots when boiling water. The steam from these adds to moisture in the air Similarly, leave the windows open when cooking if you can. At the least, use exhaust fans.
You can also invest in a dehumidifier. These can reduce the amount of water vapor in the air. Smaller models can treat just one room or area of your home if that’s what you need. They don’t require any installation and are easy to use.
There are also whole-home dehumidification systems that expertly balance moisture levels throughout a house. They pull air through return ducts, remove moisture and send the dry air back into the home.
Whole-home dehumidifiers are especially useful if you have severe allergies or if your house doesn’t have great ventilation. It’s a more significant investment but can make a considerable difference when it comes to humidity without requiring a lot of work.