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Breathe Easy This Winter

Take a clean break from indoor air pollution.

The good news is, a winterized home is sealing out the wind and cold; the bad news is, it may be sealing in common pollutants. In fact, research indicates that interior air may be more polluted than outdoor air even in major cities. This issue is easy to resolve with regular maintenance and simple procedures in order to keep your indoor air fresh as the outdoors – actually, fresher!

Here are a few tips on giving your home a clean bill of health. They can also save money on house cleaning, your appliances’ longevity, and best of all, doctor bills.
girl sneezing

Make sure your chimney is clean and the fireplace flue is wide open during cozy fires. Also, have inspections for proper venting and air intake to help prevent back-drafting with carbon monoxide and particle pollutants. Have the chimney inspected yearly.

Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and with the dryer. Gas appliances may emit carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Unvented gas stoves can release formaldehyde. Warning: A persistent yellow-tipped flame usually indicates pollutant emissions from stove burners and space heaters. Adjust the burner so the flame tip is blue.

Don’t smoke indoors. If you smoke, go outdoors. It’ll clear the air of the smell and yellow dinge left by tobacco smoke, not to mention make your home more pleasant.

Use exhaust fans in the bathroom. This helps prevent mold and mildew.

Test for radon. This naturally occurring gas can cause cancer, but it’s relatively easy to vent and prevent. Any home can have radon. Call your contractor or state radon office for an inspection or inspection kit.

Have central air conditioning and ducts inspected yearly. This can be a breeding ground for mold and other biological contaminants if they aren’t properly maintained.

Change furnace filters monthly. You’ll increase the life and efficiency of your heater and enjoy better air quality.

Have plumbing inspected by a professional. Leaking water often means mold and mildew.

Regularly clean the humidifier. This can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Use a dehumidifier in the basement. Also, clean and disinfect the basement floor drain regularly.

Immediately clean or dispose of water damaged materials. Scrub any mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, then dry it completely. You may have to throw out porous materials, from carpet to ceiling tiles. Never paint or caulk moldy areas. Clean it and dry it!

Ventilate the attic and crawl spaces. You’ll help prevent moisture buildup and the chance for mold.

Pressed wood products should be “exterior-grade.” Particleboard and plywood paneling may release formaldehyde. However the gas weakens with age. Keep rooms with new pressed wood products cool and dry.

Change dry cleaners if your clothes have a chemical odor. Dry cleaners try to recapture and reuse perchloroethylene to save money. Long-term exposure may affect health.

Don’t idle the car in the garage. A major carbon monoxide producer.

Have your home tested.

Test for mold, carbon monoxide, radon, and anything unique to your neighborhood.

Keeping these tips in mind will help you breathe easier this winter and keep your family safe and healthy for the cold months that are ahead of us.

Maeser / Joni Crume

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