Smoke, CO, and Filtration
The air we breathe should be one of the top concerns we have on a day-to-day basis. While high levels of traffic and industry outside raise pollution levels – and plants raise pollen levels – we should feel safe in the knowledge that the air inside our homes, safely sealed away with forced air ventilation and filters, is clean and clear for breathing. The sad thing is, the air inside your home may be just as bad, if not worse, than the air you’re keeping out.
Smoke, Carbon Monoxide, and Gas
Some of the biggest (and most obvious) dangers can come from the heating system in your home. Whether that’s heating for hot water or simple a power source for your air conditioner, anything that burns is a likely source for harmful elements in the air.
When something burns, whether it’s wood, plastic, coal, or gas, it doesn’t burn completely clean. This is why furnaces have an exhaust vent (just like your car). Of course smoke is bad for breathing and it can also damage surfaces in your home. But it’s presence is also very obvious since it’s visible, has a strong smell, and carries heat with it. Less obvious is carbon monoxide (CO) which is odorless, invisible and impossible to detect until it’s too late. CO is a byproduct of anything that burns. Carbon released during the burning process bonds with oxygen and is released as a toxic gas.
One final thing to always be on the lookout for: natural gas or propane leaks. The smell of rotten eggs coming from you central heating and air vents, or the hiss of gas escaping from your fuel lines are tell-tale sounds of toxic gases escaping into the air. Even during the summer, when furnaces aren’t being used, problems in feed lines can form as systems age.
If you smell gas, turn off the system at the source and call for service immediately. For smoke and carbon dioxide, it’s important to conduct regular testing of your smoke and CO alarms. They are the best defense against death and loss when it comes to fire and carbon monoxide.
Pollen, Pets, and Particles
So that’s how we deal with dangerous contaminants in the air, but what about mild annoyances? We write and post about cleaning up the air with filters quite a lot, and that’s because filters are the best defense for keeping your air clean of pollutants. Placing the right air filter in your home is good, but there are some other ways to reduce the number of pollutants.
Place pollinating household plants outside during peak-pollen seasons – Pollen is strong enough as it is during the warm portions of spring and summer. If you keep plants inside during their pollination cycles, they’ll simply add to the number of particles floating about. Find a space for them on your deck or patio for the roughest parts of the year.
Have pets groomed and cleaned regularly – Hair, dandruff, and dirt are all scattered through your home by pets. It doesn’t matter how hypoallergenic they are or how short their hair is, any pet that spends time outside will track in dirt and all animals have some degree of shedding (even humans). Groom your pets regularly to control the amount of hair and dander in the air.
Air the house out – Whenever the weather is nice, open the windows and run a few fans to circulate air. Use screens to keep the bugs out while you’re letting fresh air in. Without a fresh source of clean air, your internal air becomes stagnant and saturated with pollutants. Cycling outside air at least once a month will remove more contaminants than it lets in.
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