Improving Indoor Air Quality to Combat the Cold and Flu Season
The flu and cold seasons are drawing in on Stillwater, OK. Many Americans count on a flu shot to protect them during flu season, but there is no cure for the common cold.
In either case, the best way to stay strong during the cold winter months is through prevention. Preventing airborne particles from entering your system is the best way to protect yourself against bacteria and viruses.
There isn’t much you can do when you’re out and about, but let’s face it, most people spend their time indoors, at home. If you have children or pets, you need to protect them and the environment they live in. Read on to find out how you can better protect your family against the microscopic intruders who want to get you sick.
What Is Making You Sick
It is often confusing whether you have a cold or flu. There are simple charts showing symptoms, so it’s easy to determine which is which, but those charts have changed over time.
Does a cold or flu give you the chills? The flu does most of the time, and cold does sometimes. Not really specific. Instead of trying to figure out which one is giving you the headaches (again, they both can), work toward preventing the viruses from entering your body in the first place.
Keeping your home’s internal humidity above 40% is recommended to combat airborne viruses. The dryer the air, the easier it is for viruses to fly around your home unabated. Moisture weighs down on the particles forcing them to the ground where they are relatively harmless.
What are These Viruses?
The flu is caused only by influenza viruses, while the cold can be caused by parainfluenza, rhinoviruses, and seasonal coronaviruses (not to be confused with COVID-19.) Although the types of viruses are different, the way they pass between humans is the same.
Why do we get so sick when we go outside during the winter? We don’t. There are a couple of reasons why this happens, including:
- The lack of vitamin D from the Sun lowers our resistance
- People congregate indoors to get out of the cold
- Indoor areas are sealed to keep them warm, but this also allows viruses to thrive
Indoor Pollutants Affecting Indoor Air Quality
Air purification is about more than preventing viruses. Your indoor air quality affects you and your loved ones in many ways, sometimes making it easier for viruses to linger within your home. Some of the more common pollutants include:
Bacteria can cause many of the same symptoms as viruses. They thrive in those with weakened immune systems but can affect anyone, including your pets.
You’d think by their name that they’d be worse during the dusty summer months, but that’s not necessarily true. The lack of proper ventilation in the home is an ideal breeding ground for these little pests.
They are nearly impossible to remove, and people with strong immune systems may not know they exist. But those with asthma and other respiratory diseases notice a significant change in their respiratory health after removing as many of these microscopic pests as possible.
Pet dander, smoking residues, and chemicals used in the home all get stuck in fibrous materials. Curtains, bedding, and furniture are just a few of their most common hiding places. A well-ventilated home with good humidity can weaken the odors and sometimes annihilate them.
- Cleaning materials
- Scented sprays
All of them linger in the air allowing other particles to attach to them and giving them more “hang time” as they float through your home.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
With all of the pathogens floating around the home, it’s a wonder people aren’t always sick. Well, that is the purpose of our immune systems. We have our internal filtration systems, but they wear down over time.
The longer we can take care of them, the longer they’ll last. To help your body fight off all of the hidden elements in your home, consider air purification and filtration systems or a humidifier.
Air Filtration System in Stillwater, OK
Air filtration systems capture unwanted particles before they enter the air that you and your family breathe. They are fairly inexpensive to install, and the benefits are great. They remove:
- Pet dander
- Unwanted particulates
An electrostatic filter uses positive and negative ion transfer to capture the particles before they leave the filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters can capture 99.97% of the particles before they enter your home’s air circulation system. Talk to your HVAC technician about which type of filter would work best for your home.
Air purification takes the cleaning process one step above filtration. Technicians can install a UV light inside your HVAC unit to kill molds, viruses, and bacteria before they get to the filtration device. By killing them outright, the particles have no means to propel themselves in any direction.
UV lighting makes it easier for the filtration system to do its job capturing the particles. Those few microorganisms that might bypass the purification and filtration system are usually incapacitated or dead and no threat to your home.
Moisture is an important element when improving indoor quality. During the colder months, you keep the furnace turned up to keep your family warm, but the air from your furnace is dry. The already dry outside air is entering your house, getting heated and then dispersed throughout your home.
The dry air makes you cough and sneeze, dries out your hardwood floors, and damages artwork and furniture. Portable humidifiers are great to place in a room, like a bedroom, when you sleep, but they are not effective in helping with your home’s overall indoor air quality.
Portable humidifiers require you to constantly refill the water basin, and you have to move them from room to room or purchase several units to accommodate multiple rooms.
A whole-home humidifier offers all of the benefits of a portable unit without any of the disadvantages. Water is piped into a whole-home humidifier through your plumbing, and the unit itself is attached to your HVAC system.
The whole home unit also keeps moisture in the air inside your home. It provides the recommended 40% humidity level (or higher if you wish) that you need to prevent viruses, bacteria, and other particles from floating around your home.
Combining the whole-home humidifier with an air purification system and an air filtration system is the best way to prevent the flu and colds from occurring within your home. As an added benefit, your home will be less dusty, the humidity will protect your furniture and hardwood floors, and most importantly, your family will remain healthy.
How an HVAC Specialist Can Help
If you can find the right HVAC specialist, they can help with your indoor air quality in other ways. Not only can they install the humidifier, filtration, and purification systems, but they can also perform furnace maintenance to help keep your air cleaner.
Furnaces become less efficient every year, so a routine maintenance schedule is vital to extending the life of your HVAC unit. Not only does regular maintenance reduce your energy bills, but it also keeps your air filtration system, and therefore your overall air quality, optimal.
It’s a good idea to talk to your HVAC company about preexisting particulates in your HVAC system. This issue mainly concerns the ductwork. If your HVAC hasn’t been maintained and you’ve had no form of air purification, then your ducts may house everything from bacteria to dust to mold.
An HVAC specialist can also give you tips on how to better winterize your home. If you have poor airflow throughout your home or your windows or doors are not properly sealed, an HVAC technician can help identify those issues.
Although they don’t typically perform winterization tasks, they provide the best methods of optimizing airflow throughout your home. You can also find out whether a newer HVAC system would help or look into an alternate HVAC system, like geothermal heating. When it comes to the air quality within your home or keeping a comfortable atmosphere for your family, an HVAC specialist is the first — and last — person you need to talk to.
HVAC Technician Near Me in Stillwater, OK
Sitton Mechanical, LLC is a devout Christian family-owned business servicing the Stillwater area for over a decade. As Stillwater locals, we have brought all of the best qualities of the town into our business. We guarantee all of our work, provide upfront pricing so there are no surprises, and screen and certify all of our employees, so you know you are safe when our technicians come to your home.
Call Sitton Mechanical today for all of your heating, cooling, and air quality needs.