Common Causes for Indoor Air Quality Issues in the Winter

Many homeowners find it difficult to maintain good indoor air quality throughout winter. For those who live in colder climates, much time is spent indoors during the winter, so air quality is even more important. The challenges are common in most residential homes – dryer indoor air; more limited ventilation; and heating sources that are providing comfort.

Even in the depths of winter, when temperatures drop below freezing, it’s still possible to enjoy a comfortable indoor environment with clean, healthy air. But it doesn’t come easily – there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, and with the right approach, indoor comfort is assured. The key is to make sure that home mechanical systems are performing.

 

Dealing with dry indoor air throughout the winter

All of us who spend wintertime in a colder climate know about dry indoor air – with dry skin, cracked fingertips, and chapped lips. It’s a misconception to think that warm air from the furnace is the primary cause of dry indoor air. Indeed, dryness comes from the outside.

Cold air simply holds less moisture, and when outside temperatures drop below freezing, the air is very, very dry. Because most homes are not completely airtight, the cold, dry air of winter seeps into the house and contributes to the dry indoor air – we all suffer the effects.

Excessively dry indoor air has the potential to cause health problems. Beyond the obvious discomforts, studies show that dry indoor air compromises personal health, while humidity levels of 40% or more tend to reduce the propensity of common colds and even influenza. 

The solution to dry indoor air is straightforward – providing more humidity and ensuring proper ventilation. There are a host of humidifying options available, although effective air circulation is the key to keeping the entire home consistently and uniformly comfortable.

 

Many indoor air pollutants circulate in the winter

Many people use supplemental heating sources to warm their home in winter. Although the main HVAC unit does filter the air overall, supplemental heating sources often generate air pollutants that can compromise indoor air quality.

Wood burning stoves and fireplaces can create various air pollutants through combustion, and here it’s important to ensure proper ventilation throughout the house. In this way most of the bothersome pollutants are ventilate outside.

Another issue in winter, when we spend so much of our time indoors, is the presence of  CO (Carbon Monoxide) in the air. The sources of CO are many, but in a sealed environment it’s very important to maintain optimum ventilation.

 

Pets can diminish indoor air quality in wintertime

In winter, pets will usually spend much more time indoors. Between the shedding and the dander, indoor air quality can be affected – particularly for those who are sensitive or with allergies. The solution:  air filters and ventilation.

While the HVAC system in a residential home is designed to filter the air and also provide air circulation, this simply is not enough if the home itself is not ventilating properly. This is actually a good time to arrange an air quality test.

 

Poor air circulation and/or ventilation in the winter

With doors and windows closed shut throughout the winter, there is considerably less air circulation throughout the home (compared to summertime). This is a recipe for pollutants to get trapped inside the home, and to accumulate. The pollutants might include tobacco smoke, various VOCs, cooking odours, and even simple household dust.

The fact that the furnace runs so frequently in winter can also impact indoor air – which is why air filter changes are so important during the winter months. As it is, effective home ventilation is really the essential component. After all, while unclean indoor air should be ventilated out, clean air from the outside should be coming into the house.

Effective ventilation, whether in the winter or summer, provides a number of benefits for the house a whole. Typically installed in the attic and roof cavity, ventilation devices allow for air circulation that keeps indoor air clean and comfortable. In addition, with ventilation at optimum levels, the efficiency of your HVAC system is much enhanced.

 

The secret to healthy indoor air quality is balance

Healthy indoor air quality is achieved when insulation and ventilation are well balanced. A home that is sealed too tight does not allow fresh air to enter from outside. This does not promote a healthy indoor environment even if it does improve your energy consumption.

When a home is well insulated AND properly ventilated it’s possible to enhance both air quality and energy efficiency at the same time. Seasonal comfort is ensured, stale indoor air is ventilated, and air moisture is better controlled. It’s an effective whole-house system.

With air quality, it’s often wise to have the home inspected and assessed. This is especially relevant when residents are experiencing health symptoms that may be related. Today, air sampling and testing can provide a detailed analysis of a range of pollutants/contaminants.

 

Resolving air quality issues & improving air quality

Inch-by-Inch Inspections offers homeowners a comprehensive approach to improving air quality. We assess your premises; we provide sampling and testing; and we offer effective solutions for resolving existing problems.

From season to season, our experienced team of professionals deal with a wide variety of air pollutants and contaminants found throughout the home. We specialize in identifying the source and extent of an air quality issue.

  • airborne mold and spores
  • off-gassing contaminants   
  • old asbestos installations
  • volatile organic compounds
  • carbon dioxide build up
  • carbon monoxide traces

If you’re suspecting an air quality issue, Inch-by-Inch Inspections can provide an accurate using the latest in air sampling equipment. We provide a detailed analysis, along with viable corrective measures to resolve the problem.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, our air quality assessments are very straightforward and easy to understand. You can choose from a wide variety of testing protocols, each designed to target an issue.

At Inch-by-Inch, we don’t stop at testing and analysis – we also offer recommendations for resolving your issues. These might include various repairs or retrofits that will address specific problem areas with long-term solutions.

For air quality testing in Toronto, and throughout the GTA, you can count on Inch-by-Inch for trusted, reliable service. Our testing analysis delivers objective results – we report in a neutral manner so you can make a final decision.

The team at Inch-by-Inch Inspections follows the most rigorous Standards of Practice, as well as the Code of Ethics from InterNACHI – the world’s leading association of professional property inspectors (both home and commercial).

To arrange for a property assessment, and a FREE estimate, contact one of our in-house professionals at 416-826-7172. To find out more about our range of services, visit our company website at www.inchbyinchinspections.com . Our people are fully insured and available 7 days a week. We offer customers flat rate pricing, with no hidden charges, and no after hours costs. We also provide service follow-up (telephone or email) at no charge.

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