As the mercury drops, we generally spend more of our days curled up indoors to evade bad weather, but poor indoor air quality could be affecting your enjoyment of those quiet winter months. Something that can cause poor indoor air quality is simply raising the heat in your home.
This may seem counterintuitive, because your home is built to contain warm or cooled air, protecting you from the elements and keeping you comfortable throughout the year. However, during the winter months, that increased heating could be causing poor indoor air quality effects in a number of ways.
If your furnace hasn’t been turned on since April, dust and other allergens like pollen have likely settled in your registers and air filters. When you turn that furnace on, these allergens start cycling throughout your home with the warm air, and can effect your comfort as well as the efficiency of your furnace. Having your furnace maintained and cleaned regularly, as well as replacing or cleaning your filters can have a huge effect on indoor air quality and reduce the need for costly repairs down the road.
Increased heat can also mean increased dryness – and when your eyes, nose, or throat dry out, you are more at risk of irritation from allergies or viruses, which makes a humidifier a valuable addition if your home is particularly dry.
Many homes in Toronto and the GTA contain a wood or gas fireplace – nothing beats the coziness that these appliances can create, but with proper usage, you can reduce the poor indoor air quality that can often occur from using these. Fireplaces, for starters, emit soot and particles from incomplete combustion, which can aggravate lung conditions like bronchitis or asthma. Wood or gas fireplaces can also emit two noxious chemicals:
- Carbon Monoxide: This odourless, colourless gas is known as ‘the silent killer,’ and it interferes with your body’s ability to use oxygen. Low levels of exposure to carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, headaches and nausea, but higher levels can cause you to lose consciousness and may cause death.
- Nitrogen Dioxide: Some people with a strong sense of smell may notice the sharp, biting odour of nitrogen dioxide that has built up in the environment. This nose, eye, and throat irritant has been linked with an increase in respiratory infections and the development of lung diseases like emphysema.
Keeping poor indoor air quality at bay when using your fireplace or gas stove is easy; always follow manufacturer instructions, keep flues, chimneys, and other ventilation systems clear and unblocked, schedule annual maintenance, and choose the proper fuel. Never use a heater or stove that uses gas indoors. Choosing to add an air purifier or a HEPA air filtration system can also help control indoor air pollution, whether it be from a fireplace or other heating system in your home. Get in touch with the professionals at SafeAir to learn more about how poor indoor air quality could be affecting you this winter.