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A Healthy Fall IAQ

The staff of Universal Home Experts are big proponents of healthy indoor air quality (IAQ). Keeping the air in your home free from dust and allergens is important for the health and wellbeing of your household. Houston is ranked one of the most polluted cities in the United States. This fact, coupled with our year-round humid weather, makes it difficult for a homeowner to maintain a healthy IAQ. Each season has its own set of concerns, especially the summer and winter when homes are closed up tight for a majority of the time. This fall, consider preparing your home in advance for the challenges of another winter. Being proactive about changes that will positively affect the quality of your indoor air will help promote a healthier and more comfortable winter. Our IAQ experts have compiled a list of the most important tips for keeping your air clean throughout the next several months.

Replace HVAC Air Filter – One of the easiest, yet most important, procedures a homeowner can do to help their air quality is replacing their HVAC filter. Before there is a seasonal shift in the weather, it is essential that the A/C or furnace filter is clean and functioning at maximum capacity. Make sure you replace it with a polyester/cotton filter with a MERV (minimum efficiency rating) of around 8 – 12. This will help greatly in removing the dust, allergens and other airborne contaminants in your home.

MERV Ratings

Natural Air Fragrances

In the fall and winter, many people like to give their home a festive scent with a variety of synthetic fragrance products. Wax melts, plug-ins and other popular dispensers emit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that are considered toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws. What is even more concerning is that fragrances created from petroleum products have never been tested for their adverse effects. This holiday season, try using non-toxic air fresheners (check the labels) or try making your own from natural products.

List of Non-Toxic Air Fresheners

10 Homemade Air Fresheners

Seek Fresh Air

Our winter temperatures rarely go below freezing, which sometimes allows homeowners to open windows for fresh air. When the weather allows, open your windows and get the air circulating for a long as possible. Houston homes should be able to open their windows through the end of December (if not longer). It’s best to crack open windows on clear, sunny days with low humidity in the air. When it’s raining or overly humid, keep them closed as the dampness can encourage mold and mildew.

Clean Floors

Cleaning your floors on a regular basis is another good way to keep your indoor air clean. In the fall, the leaf and tree debris that is tracked inside can contribute to the airborne toxins inside your home. Make sure that you have effective floor mats (look for anti-microbial designs) placed at every entrance. Be mindful of dirty shoes and, if you have small children, try to impose a “no shoe rule” after coming in from outside. Sweep your carpets, tile and wood floors twice a week using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. You will also want to mop your kitchen and bathroom floors once a week with a damp mop (no cleaning solution needed).

Roof Leaks

It is always good practice to check your roof once a year for leaks. The flood and rain damage that Harvey brought has exacerbated area roof problems, making it even more important to check for damage. Even if you were fortunate enough to have evaded flood damage, make sure to investigate your roof. Any moisture that infiltrates your home can lead to mold and mildew, which can trigger allergies and worsen those with upper respiratory problems. You will also want to check the attic, basement and crawl spaces for signs of leakage (which includes cracked paint, warped wood and discolored areas on walls).

Pest Control

The change in weather can drive rodents and bugs into your home. The flooding and excessive rain from Harvey also drove these creatures inside seeking shelter. An infestation can be extremely detrimental; the combination of feces and debris they create can greatly compromise the IAQ. Some pests can trigger allergies, worsen asthma symptoms and cause health issues for children. The chemicals used to fight off infestation are often toxic and can make the indoor air pollution even worse. Consider looking into Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which is an holistic approach to pest control. It only uses pesticides as a last resort for extreme situations. There are also several reputable pest control experts in the Houston area who can assist without relying on toxic chemicals.

Keeping the air in your Houston home throughout the year should be a high priority. If you need extra help ensuring that your indoor air is clean, contact us today. Universal Home Experts has a wide variety of IAQ solutions to help keep your household safe and healthy from airborne toxins and other hazardous elements. Call us at (713) 364-0226 to schedule an appointment with one our IAQ experts today!