How to Improve the Air Quality of Your Home

Air puri­fiers, dehu­mid­i­fiers, humid­i­fiers and spe­cial fil­ters: which is right for you?

Dur­ing warmer weath­er, nat­ur­al ven­ti­la­tion from open win­dows and doors helps main­tain the air qual­i­ty indoors. As tem­per­a­tures drop, win­dows and doors are kept closed and we rely on fur­naces to stay warm. The result­ing lack of fresh air can have a neg­a­tive impact on the air qual­i­ty in your home.

As your home­’s air qual­i­ty is reduced, you may devel­op upper res­pi­ra­to­ry symp­toms such as cough­ing, headaches, eye irri­ta­tion, nasal con­ges­tion or a sore throat. If you have asth­ma, you may have more fre­quent or severe attacks. For­tu­nate­ly, there are ways you can improve the air qual­i­ty in your home, such as clean­ing air ducts, replac­ing the fil­ters in your fur­nace and using air puri­fiers, dehu­mid­i­fiers or humid­i­fiers. Board-cer­ti­fied aller­gy, asth­ma and immunol­o­gy spe­cial­ist, Dr. Andrey Leonov, shares tips on how to main­tain good air qual­i­ty in your home this winter. 

There are sev­er­al types of pol­lu­tants that can affect the air qual­i­ty in your home. Com­mon cul­prits include chem­i­cals from clean­ing prod­ucts, house­hold appli­ances includ­ing your fire­place, hot water heater, fur­nace, dry­er and stove, as well as mold, dust and dan­der from pets. These pol­lu­tants can accu­mu­late over time and affect your health. To main­tain the air qual­i­ty in your home, we recommend:

Keep­ing up with cleaning 

Chang­ing sheets and tow­els reg­u­lar­ly, as well as vac­u­um­ing (using a vac­u­um with a HEPA fil­ter) once a week, helps elim­i­nate pol­lu­tants that are brought into your home. 

Check­ing humid­i­ty levels 

Dehu­mid­i­fiers and humid­i­fiers can help main­tain the rec­om­mend­ed humid­i­ty lev­el with­in your home. Ide­al­ly, humid­i­ty lev­els should be between 30 to 50 per­cent. You can check the humid­i­ty lev­el in your home using a hygrom­e­ter, a gauge that looks like a ther­mome­ter that can be pur­chased at most hard­ware stores.

Low humid­i­ty caus­es the air in your home to become dry. This is more com­mon dur­ing cold weath­er because cold air can’t hold as much water vapor as warm air. With­out prop­er mois­ture in the air, your health (and home) can suf­fer. You may expe­ri­ence symp­toms includ­ing dry­ness of your eyes, nose, skin and throat. Low­er humid­i­ty lev­els can also impact your home, dam­ag­ing wood and dry­wall over time.

You can increase the humid­i­ty lev­el in your home by using a humid­i­fi­er. Humid­i­fiers uti­lize a fil­ter that absorbs water and a fan to cir­cu­late the mois­ture from the fil­ter into the air. They come in a vari­ety of types and sizes. Choos­ing the right humid­i­fi­er will depend on your per­son­al pref­er­ence as well as the square footage of your space. It is impor­tant to keep your humid­i­fi­er clean and to change the fil­ters regularly.

If you have ele­vat­ed mois­ture in your home, a dehu­mid­i­fi­er can help remove the excess mois­ture from the air. This is impor­tant because damp air can lead to mold and bac­te­ria growth. Expo­sure to high amounts of mold can cause symp­toms includ­ing cough­ing, eye and throat irri­ta­tion, skin rash­es and sneezing.

You should con­sid­er a dehu­mid­i­fi­er if you notice:

  • Signs of excess mois­ture (wet stains on your walls, ceil­ing or con­den­sa­tion on windows)
  • Stuffy rooms
  • A musty odor
  • Vis­i­ble mold

Set up your dehu­mid­i­fi­er in areas of your house prone to mois­ture, such as base­ments, bath­rooms and laun­dry areas.

Use nat­ur­al clean­ing products 

Many clean­ing prod­ucts con­tain chem­i­cals that can affect the air qual­i­ty in your home. Using prod­ucts that are non-tox­ic and con­tain nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents can reduce the amount of pol­lu­tants released into the air. 

Clean your air ducts 

Air is cir­cu­lat­ed through­out your home by your heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tem. Clean­ing your air ducts helps to remove dust, mold and oth­er aller­gens that have accu­mu­lat­ed. Fur­nace air fil­ters should also be changed every two to three months.

Puri­fy your air 

If you are aller­gic to envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tants like dust, mold and ani­mal dan­der, an air puri­fi­er can help trap and remove them from the air. Air puri­fiers uti­lize a fil­ter (or mul­ti­ple fil­ters) and fan that take in air, cap­ture pol­lu­tants and oth­er par­ti­cles, then release the fil­tered air back into your home. For the best results, place an air puri­fi­er in com­mon­ly used areas in your home. While air puri­fiers won’t total­ly elim­i­nate aller­gens, they can help reduce them. 

With­out the reg­u­lar flow of fresh air pro­vid­ed by open doors and win­dows, aller­gens can become trapped inside dur­ing the win­ter. When­ev­er pos­si­ble, even dur­ing cold­er months, try to open win­dows, even just for a few min­utes, to let fresh air in. Tak­ing steps to improve your home­’s air qual­i­ty can have a pos­i­tive impact on your health, includ­ing reduced aller­gy symp­toms and asth­ma attacks. Learn more about our Aller­gy, Asth­ma & Immunol­o­gy team or sched­ule an appoint­ment with them online. 

Health Topics:

  • As an allergy, asthma and immunology specialist, I strive to provide my pediatric and adult patients in the Joliet and Lockport communities with the best care possible. Allergies and asthma can have a tremendous impact on your daily life. Whether you’re struggling with chronic sinus symptoms, food allergies or skin rashes, my goal is to work collaboratively with each patient to identify their specific allergens and develop a treatment plan best suited to their individual needs. In order to achieve the best outcomes, it’s essential that patients are included in the decision making process and feel well-informed and comfortable, both with me and their care plan.