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How do I improve my indoor air quality? Fall Edition

trees in forest during fall

Here in Chicago, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. Kids are going back to school, parks and beaches are closing, the days are getting shorter, and the summer heat is starting to fade. This changing of seasons means we are starting to spend more time indoors, which often means an uptick in indoor air quality complaints. In this blog, I will go over a few general tips to help make the seasonal transition into fall a little easier in your home.

Open Windows

One of the best things for your indoor air quality is to increase outdoor air ventilation in the space. The easiest way to achieve this in most homes is to open windows, and in the midwest, the few weeks between summer and winter is an opportune time to open up the windows in your home and enjoy the fresh outdoor air. If you are planning any renovations in your home (i.e. refinishing hardwood floors, painting, etc), I would recommend trying to get these projects knocked out prior to winter, so you can open up the windows and air out the space before the temperatures drop too much. 

A few words of caution, September and early October can be the peak season for ragweed pollen. If you have ragweed allergies, you may want to limit having the windows open. Also, if you live in an area that allows for the burning of yard waste, it is not a good idea to keep your windows open if your neighbors are burning leaves.

Furnace Filters

Changing the filter in your central HVAC system is something that should be done routinely, but it is often something that is easy to overlook. The time when we switch from cooling to heating is a perfect time to install a fresh filter in your HVAC system. A word of note, you may be tempted to install a higher rated filter into your HVAC system, however, sometimes these more efficient filters can cause a high amount of pressure drop which the system is not designed for. Always replace your filter with the same MERV rating that was installed prior. If you are interested in having a more efficient filter in your system, contact a HVAC professional who can advise you.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

When switching over to heating in the fall, there are additional risks for exposure to carbon monoxide from combustion appliances. Now is a good time to make sure your carbon monoxide alarms are functioning and that the batteries are good. If you have combustion appliances and don’t have carbon monoxide alarms in your home, now is the time to purchase them. Carbon monoxide alarms should be placed on each level of the home (including basements) near sleeping areas, be placed at least 15-20 ft away from combustion appliances, and should be away from sources of humidity such as stoves and showers.

Indoor Science can help assess your indoor air quality any time of year. If you have air quality concerns, reach out to us to discuss what we can do for you!

Ian Cull

Ian Cull is a nationally recognized expert in the field of indoor air quality. He is the Chief Science Officer of Indoor Science, a company he started in 2004. He speaks around the world on air quality topics and is a training provider of the Indoor Air Quality Association. Mr. Cull is a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). His degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. Mr. Cull has developed 50 air quality related courses for the IAQA University and is the author of the book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation”. In his words… “Besides being passionate about indoor air quality, I enjoy cycling, music, the Chicago Bulls, and having fun with my three kids.”