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!

Dylan McIntosh

Dylan McIntosh

Dylan McIntosh is a Senior Project Manager that performs indoor air quality assessments, industrial hygiene testing, and laboratory mold analysis. Mr. McIntosh holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from the University of Illinois - Springfield. Dylan is an ACAC Council-Certified Microbial Investigator (CMI) and an Pan American Aerobiology Certification Board (PAACB) Certified Spore Analyst. In his words… “Throughout my life, I always had a dream of becoming an astronaut. That dream hasn’t worked out (yet) so I started a career in the next best thing, indoor air quality! In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities with my dog, cooking, and being involved with A Special Wish - Chicago; a local charity.”

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