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How Your Heating and Cooling System Affects Air Quality In Rochester, NY

Your heating and cooling system does more than regulate the temperature in your home. It also has a significant effect on your indoor air quality. And, if you’re not paying attention, that effect could be a negative one.

Indoor air quality, or IAQ, has become a more widespread concern over the last decade or so. For starters, people are spending more time indoors — up to 90 percent of their day, according to the CDC. The problem is, the air inside is usually dirtier than it is outside. And, in the winter and summer, people leave their windows closed all the time.

They don’t want to waste their heating or air conditioning. As a result, dust, dirt, bacteria, VOCs, and other pollutants come into the house but don’t have a way back out. Fortunately, you can fight back — and your HVAC system can help. In this post, we’ll look at three ways your heating and cooling system can harm your indoor air quality. Since winter’s coming up, we’ll focus more on the furnace for now. Then, we’ll explore three ways you can use that same system to improve the air you breathe in your home.

Some of these are solutions you can handle on your own. Others require a professional. So, if you have any questions, or you think you’d benefit from some of the more involved strategies here, call Airquip at (585) 641-3080. We’ve served the greater Rochester, NY area for nearly thirty years, and we can help you breathe easier all winter.

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Three Ways Your Furnace Affects Indoor Air Quality

  1. Producing Dry Air
  2. Circulating Pollutants
  3. Trapping Contaminants Inside
Let’s look closer at these.

Producing Dry Air

By nature, cool air is drier than warm air. It’s because warm air holds more moisture, or humidity, than when it’s cold. But, the warm air inside in the winter often has less humidity than the cold air outside. And it’s because of your furnace. Your HVAC system arms the cold air without adding humidity.

Now, you’ve got extra-dry, warm air. Even if you opened the windows for circulation, you’re not adding any moisture. In fact, it’s just making things drier. That’s when people start suffering from symptoms that often seem like seasonal allergies: Dry, itchy skin, red eyes, and more.

It’s also why some people get nosebleeds in the winter: the capillaries in their noses dry out and crack.

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Circulating Pollutants

No matter how well you clean, there’s bound to be some dust and dirt in your house. In the winter, when the windows are closed, any contaminants you bring in end up building up. And, it’s even worse if you have pets.

Now, there’s fur and dander — maybe even feathers. Inevitably, those tiny particles make their way into your vents and ductwork. Instead of settling in just a few areas of the home, now those pollutants spread through the entire house.

Your heating system sends air from every part of your home to every other part of your home. And, the design behind the ductwork is to make sure the warmth circulates all through a room.

So, it’s not like that dust or dander will just settle on the ground. Instead, it’s getting kicked up all around the room — where you’ll breathe it in.

Trapping Contaminants Inside

Similar to circulating pollutants is trapping contaminants inside the house. As we mentioned before, once your furnace or AC is running, you’re keeping your windows closed pretty much all the time. In the spring or fall, when it’s not too hot or cold, you’re more likely to leave the windows open. This way, the pollutants you bring in — and the contaminants you generate in the house — have the chance to make their way outside instead of building up. But, in the winter, there’s a rise in Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. These are any chemical compounds that easily vaporize.

That’s anything from cooking and smoke odors to residue from nail polish remover or furniture cleaners. They become a gas that you can breathe in — and they’re no good for you. Now that we’ve outlined the health hazards let’s see how you can use your HVAC system to alleviate them.

Three Ways Your Heating and Cooling System Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

Your HVAC system becomes a tool for improving indoor air quality in the winter when you:
  1. Change Your Air Filters
  2. Use Humidifiers
  3. Install an Air Purifier

Change Your Air Filters

The first step toward preventing all sorts of pollutants from circulating through the air is making sure your air filter is clean and working correctly.

Fortunately, this is an easy and inexpensive fix. Your filter traps all sorts of harmful particles such as dust, debris, and fur as they pass through your system. But, you need to change them every three months or more.

Otherwise, they get clogged and cause other problems. And, if you’re especially sensitive to allergens or other airborne toxins, you can invest in higher-quality filters that trap smaller particles and can even get rid of some smoke and odors.

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Use Humidifiers

Next, we can address the dry air. If the problem’s not too bad, you can take care of it easily with an over-the-counter humidifier that treats one room at a time. These are the kinds you can find in drug stores, supermarkets, big box stores, and plenty of places online.

Depending on what you need, they run anywhere from around $25 to $100. If you need to treat the entire house, however, you can call your trusted HVAC contractor for help. We can install humidifiers that attach to your heating and cooling system. They’ll tap into the ductwork to deliver moisture to every room.

Install an Air Purifier

Finally, you can invest in products that take an active, even aggressive, approach to cleaning your air.

Again, there are small air purifiers available at the retail level that treat one room at a time. But, if you’re looking to make a significant improvement, ask your HVAC company about a whole-home air purifier.

Like the humidifiers, these attach to your heating and cooling system. You don’t need to turn them on and off — they work automatically. And, they do the job in two ways: First, they work along the filter to trap particles as they pass through. Then, the active part is neutralizing particles in the air before they even enter the system. There’s a lot of technology that goes into the process.

But, if you have questions about it, or are interested in using any of these solutions in your Rochester, NY, home, give us a call here at Airquip. Starting with a consultation and a walk through your home, we’ll help you find the solution that’s perfect for you.

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