With snow and ice comes a new set of air-quality concerns. Here’s what to look out for room by room.
From snow days to holiday parties, the time we spend indoors increases in the wintertime—along with the potential for cold-weather air quality concerns. Amid seasonal decorating, baking and preparing for guests, spend some time making sure your family is breathing cleaner air in every area of your home.
Snow has been found to absorb pollutants from sources like car emissions, which are released into the air as it melts.* To help keep these pollutants out of your home, ask guests to wipe off and remove their boots before stepping inside. This will also prevent puddles of water from warping your floors.
The dryness of winter air makes it easier for bacteria and viruses to survive. Ideally, your home’s humidity levels should fall between 30 and 50 percent—especially in spaces where you spend a lot of time, like the bedroom. Humidifiers can help add a little more moisture to the air. Make sure to use one with a filter or only use distilled water to help maintain good indoor air quality, too.
Roaring fireplaces go hand-in-hand with winter. Make sure yours is ready for the season by having your chimney cleaned yearly. A professional will be able to remove any toxic creosote buildup and make sure the flue is open to stop smoke from flowing into your home. Plus, an annual inspection can help prevent chimney fires.
Come wintertime, outdoor barbecues and picnics are replaced with hearty, homemade meals. While the aromas generated while cooking are likely a welcome addition to your home, the pollutants produced by gas, electric and wood stoves are not. The best strategy to keep them at bay? Proper ventilation with a range hood and exhaust fan.
If your home is full of cracks and gaps, you might be in for an especially chilly winter. Seal spaces around windows and doors with caulking or weatherstripping. This will prevent cool air (and pollutants) from seeping in, while saving you money on your energy bill.
Speaking of keeping air inside, don’t do any major home repairs during the winter. Many people choose to start improvement projects late in the year to prepare for holiday guests, but try to hold off until spring, when it’s easier to open windows for natural ventilation of paint chemicals and construction dust.