When You Close the Windows, Breathe Clean Air

Many Americans enjoy the fresh air that wafts in through open windows during summer and fall. But as the weather cools, both home and business owners in many regions are shutting their windows in preparation for a cold winter. This step makes sense; you don’t want to lose the heat that you’ll soon be paying for through open windows or other drafty areas. But closing windows also invites dust, allergens, and other contaminants to settle indoors without escape. So it’s a good idea to take some steps to keep your indoor environment clean throughout the winter.

You’ve likely heard us say it before – Superior Cleaning recommends that you schedule a professional duct cleaning every two to three years. Why? Having a clean, properly functioning heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system is vital to maintaining a clean healthy and comfortable living and working environment. Airborne contaminants can build up inside air ducts, making them a breeding ground for mold spores, bacteria, fungus, mildew and other microbes, which can then get re-circulated through your indoor space.

Mold can be a big problem in your home, even during the generally drier winter months (and especially if you live in an area that is humid year-round). The Institute of Medicine has linked indoor mold exposure to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. Mold spores can attach themselves to everything from clothing, shoes and bags to pets, which then carry the spores inside. Spores can then get drawn into your HVAC system and re-circulated through your home. To combat mold – and also to prevent other contaminants from re-circulating through your home and to keep your HVAC system performing efficiently – schedule those regular Air Duct Cleanings.

Dust, meanwhile, presents its own set of problems, and you might notice a lot more of it during the long months when the windows are closed. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Dust mites, relatives of the spider, are too small to see without a microscope. Dust mites eat skin cells shed by people, and they thrive in warm, humid environments. In most homes, bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites.” Allergic reactions to dust mites range from sneezing and a runny nose to wheezing and difficulty breathing.

Dust can collect on any surface, from furniture to floors to windowsills – and as anyone who cleans a home or office knows well, dust often gathers in the hardest places to clean: beneath books on bookshelves, on top of cabinets, and in carpet fibers, for example. It’s important to maintain a regular home and office cleaning regimen that includes dusting every surface from countertops to computer equipment, television sets, and light fixtures on at least a weekly basis (more often, if necessary). But even if you dust regularly, you’re likely to find that you need professional help to tackle some surfaces that are prone to collecting dust.

When it comes to cigarette smoke, the ideal solution (of course) is to ban smoking indoors – it’s the healthiest choice for everyone. And when it comes to wood burning smoke, which can also be harmful, check out the extensive “Wood Burning Best Practices” posted here. Some tips include:

  • Stop burning during air pollution health alerts
  • Use the stove or fireplace only occasionally
  • Only burn clean, dry, seasoned, untreated wood in your wood stove
  • Carefully maintain your combustion appliance
  • Consider non-wood options

Superior Cleaning & Coit Cleaning and Restoration in Woodinville, WA holds a Construction Contractor, General license (SUPERI 973KR).

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