When should Okanagan home owners be most concerned about indoor air quality?
Outdoor air quality is affected through the summer by wildfires, pollen and pollution, but when does indoor air go stale?
“When the weather gets colder you close the windows, button up the house, turn on the heat and recirculate any dust that’s caught in your ducts,” says Ted Fox, owner of Fox Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electrical. “The quality of indoor air diminishes because you’re not bringing in as much fresh air.”
Fox’s favourite tip for home owners is to check your air filter — no matter the season, if you’re neglecting your air filter you’re reducing your air quality and potentially causing damage to your furnace.
“The Number One killer of all machinery is dust,” he says. “I sometimes visit beautifully clean homes, but the ducts are full of dust! Once your ducts are clean you may only need to dust once a month instead of once a week.”
How to choose a good air filter
Fox says many people make the mistake of buying too restrictive a filter, hoping to trap more particles and clean more air.
“If you buy too restrictive of a filter, you’ll wear your furnace out because air won’t be able to pass through.”
If you want to cleaner air, you have two filter options:
- Go wide: Most filters are one inch wide, and there’s not much difference between the $1 and the $60 filters, despite what the packaging says. Installing a wider (thicker) filter will increase the surface area to trap more particles, without overworking your furnace. A wider filter may require some adjustments to your duct work.
- Go electronic: Electronic filters allow enough air to pass through, and catch over 99 per cent of particles by polarizing the filter media using electricity. Contact Fox to learn more.
Filtering particles is great for air quality, but if you want to add another layer of protection to kill microbes like viruses, mould and bacteria , consider installing UV lights in your duct work. Once again they are not all created equal, and you should choose specifically for the size of home and the amount of air required to clean.
“Most of the year we have more humidity than we need in the Okanagan, but as it gets colder the air inside does get drier,” Fox says.
A plug-in humidifier is great for improving the air quality in a small space, but if you’re hoping to humidify the whole house, hiring Fox to install a whole-home humidifier will be most economical.
“You can adjust humidity levels to your personal preference, but generally 35 to 45 per cent humidity is good for protecting hardwood floors and furniture, as well as your skin,” Fox says.
Fox serves the Vernon area from Lake Country to Sicamous and west to Kamloops. For more home maintenance tips, visit foxandsons.ca or follow them on Facebook. Call 1-833-739-4569 to request service for plumbing, heating, cooling or electrical issues, or schedule service online.