Flu Season and Your HVAC: Stay Healthier This Winter by Improving Your Home Air Quality

home air quality

As we read last month, cold and flu season is upon us, and many homeowners here in the valley are feeling a little (or a lot) under the weather. And while they go to the doctor or pick up over-the-counter cold remedies, lots of people overlook one of the key factors when it comes to “getting sick” and getting better: their home air quality. And while we’re not doctors, the home environment is something we know a thing or two about!

Maintain Your Home Air Quality for Health

We often think of disease as being brought in by members of the household, contracted at school or work and brought back home. We don’t often think about how the home itself can affect the health of its occupants. But once disease has entered your home, it’s not uncommon for it to make the rounds from family member to family member, which means lots of people will be making their recovery mostly at home.

And the home can have a big effect on recovery. It doesn’t take too much thought to realize that a clean house will have a positive effect when you’re getting over an illness–that’s one of the reasons hospitals are so sterile!  But even if your home looks clean, the air itself might not be. Hospitals use industrial scrubbers and filters to keep their air pure, and they stay up-to-date on their HVAC maintenance. It’s just another part of preventing disease and promoting health inside the building.

Fostering Illness

It’s also a pretty smart way to prevent HVAC-related illness from spreading inside the hospital, and that’s something all homeowners should be concerned about. It certainly was on the mind of a client in Roseville who had us check on some wet air filters last August. Turns out, her condensate line was clogged and the moisture content of her HVAC equipment was way too high! That’s because wet filters and condenser coils can lead to wet ducts and fans. In turn, this can foster the growth of mold and mildew. If that happens, your HVAC won’t just be failing at air-cleaning; it’ll be causing disease itself! HVAC-related respiratory conditions are no joke, and any mold or mildew needs to be treated before it spreads (which it will, quickly!) and has the chance to affect folks’ health.

Because HVAC circulates air throughout the home, it can also circulate contaminants pretty effectively. If there are illness-promoting substances in the system, your HVAC will disseminate those substances throughout the home. That’s part of why it’s important to stay on top of HVAC maintenance, especially air filter replacement.

Mold and mildew aren’t the only concerns when it comes to this sort of thing: your HVAC pulls air from the outside into your home. If that air isn’t clean (say there are some nasty chemicals near the intake, or lots of smoke in the air) the system is going to pull it in and spread it around your home. Taking a look at air intake is an important part of HVAC inspection; we want to make sure the intake is clear of debris and isn’t bringing in anything harmful to your health.

Going a Step Further

Our client in Roseville had other concerns besides a wet, moldy air filter. Her son was asthmatic, and she was having trouble keeping the home air clean enough for comfort. Obviously mold in the HVAC system wasn’t going to help anything, but she knew she wanted to do more than a repair and cleaning job. Earlier, we mentioned that hospitals clean their air rigorously. Many choose to do so in an active manner, using an air purifier that blasts contaminants into oblivion. These devices ensure than only the cleanest of air enters the home in the first place. We’d already repaired and cleaned out her HVAC system, and then we installed an air purifier. In the middle of wildfire season, the difference was night-and-day. Her son’s asthma attacks in the home were greatly reduced, and he seemed to breathe easier in general. Other members of the household noticed improvements in how they felt,  too. After all, even non-asthmatics shouldn’t be breathing in allergens, wildfire smoke, smog, pollution, and all the other things that often enter the home in our region!

Air purification may not be for everybody, and good old-fashioned passive filtration–using those air filters we know you’re changing regularly–is still the standard method for maintaining your home air quality. And it’s reliable and effective in most cases. But it can only do so much, and despite the initial cost of an air purifier and the installation, purification technology has a lot of benefits in the home. If air quality is a serious concern for you or someone in your family, those benefits can be amazing!

No matter who you are or what your needs, we hope you’ll keep your home air quality and system maintenance in mind during flu season. You wouldn’t want to recover in a bed with dirty sheets–why do so in a home with dirty air?