Closing Your Placerville Home’s Windows for Fall Is Affecting Your Indoor Air Quality

placerville windows indoor air qualityThe Hangtown Music Festival at the El Dorado County Fair and Event Center in Placerville was a great mix of fun bands, folks having a good time, and activities for the little ones—I always love spending time in Placerville this time of year. It actually feels like fall, from the changing leaves to the snow-topped mountain.

Placerville is maybe a 50-minute drive from downtown Sac, but the elevation difference is almost 1,800 feet. There’s a different climate up there in the mountains, with far more cold spells. Our customers in Placerville even get regular snow. And while it’s nice at Christmas, that elevational chill also forces homeowners there to keep windows closed for longer periods of time.

With windows shut tight against the cold, less fresh, mountain air circulates in and out of a home, which means it’s even more important to make sure the proper seasonal maintenance has been performed on your furnace, fan, filters, and even your plumbing. Otherwise, the quality of the air inside the house could suffer.

A Breath of Fresh Air

The Environmental Protection Agency says that indoor air is between 10 and 100 times more polluted than the air we breathe outside. When the weather gets colder and the windows of your home are kept shut, the quality of indoor air drops, agitating conditions like asthma and allergies. If your HVAC system and plumbing aren’t properly maintained, they can also contribute more potential toxins into your shuddered house.

Pollutant #1: Cleaning chemicals. You have to clean your house during the winter, especially if you live in a mountainous locale like Placerville, where you and your family are likely hiking through increased levels of dirt and dust. Aerosol cleaning products, however, can put chemicals into your air that you don’t want to inhale.

Solution: Non-conventional cleaning products. Thorough cleanings are the first line of defense against dust and allergens that can overwhelm the filters in your HVAC system, making them ineffective, but try making your own cleaners from somewhat common household items, like baking soda and vinegar. They’ll help protect your air, your HVAC—and your wallet.

Pollutant #2: Mold in the bathroom. When all the windows are closed, there’s nowhere for water vapors and other moisture from a hot shower on a cold winter morning to go—it clings to the walls, creating potential for mold to grow.

Solution: Get leaky pipes fixed. Leaky pipes can create mold in hard to detect places. Standing water under the floor or sink creates the ideal conditions for mold or bacteria to grow. Make sure that you’ve had your plumbing checked out recently because aging pipe joints, corroded fixtures, and too much water pressure can cause unseen leaks. And, be sure to run the bathroom exhaust fan while you shower.

Pollutant #3: Dust and allergens. This one is pretty self-explanatory, especially in Placerville where the mountainous environment is heavily wooded. Over the years, everything from dust to pine needles to dried leaves can build up in your home’s HVAC system and hurt the air inside your house. If left unchecked for too long, they can also clog the fans, coils, and condensate drain lines in your HVAC unit.

Solution: MERV-rated filters in your furnace. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, which is a rating designed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers. Making sure you have the right filter for your HVAC system, with the right MERV rating, can be a great way to prevent poor air quality.

Standard filters usually have a rating of MERV 8, but with a house that keeps its windows closed for a longer winter, owners should consider upgrading to MERV 11 or MERV 13, both of which do a better job of filtering dust and allergens.

Pollutant #4: Combustible gasses like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Common household appliances, like your furnace, use these gasses to create heat. They can be dangerous and hard to detect, so you want to take them a bit more seriously than you would something like dust.

Solution: Have your heat exchanger serviced. When it comes to keeping your furnace from releasing pollutants, it’s important to ensure that you have a healthy heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a sealed part of the HVAC system that uses the chemicals for combustion before releasing heat into the air. However, if it’s old and cracked, those chemicals may be seeping out. Only a trained professional can tell you for sure.

There are gorgeous fall days ahead in the mountains around Placerville, that’s for sure. If you’re regretting not getting out of the house for the Hangtown Festival, you can at least make sure your Placerville home is a fun, and safe, place to spend the day, without worrying about invisible dust particles and chemicals in the air.

Good indoor air quality contributes to raising a healthy, happy family, and that’s even more true when you have your windows closed for long stretches of time. So before you shutter your windows against the seasonal chill, make sure everything from your air filters to your bathroom pipes is ready for the cool months ahead.

The trained professionals at Bell Brothers can pinpoint the causes of bad air, from plumbing leaks to cracked heat exchangers. Contact the “No Surprise Guys” for answers to all your fall indoor air quality concerns.