Better Health in 2021

How Clean Air Can Help Make Your Resolutions Stick

Dog lounges on the floor while watching his person work out on an exercise bike

If we learned anything from 2020, it’s how important it is that we’re aware of our surroundings and how they affect our health and wellness, and that of the people we love. Now, as we kick off 2021, many of us have resolved to keep healthier habits in the New Year. In addition, since we now know more about how bacteria like the coronavirus travel through the air, we must continue to maintain social distancing and keep to our bubbles until everyone is vaccinated.

It also means that we have to make sure our spaces are kept clean – and that includes the air we breathe.

Clean slate, clean air, clean health

The air supplied to you and your family by your heating and cooling systems plays a huge role in the overall health of your home. If you’ve set goals to be healthier in 2021, what better place to start? Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors is the first step in reducing health risks. We spend 60 to 90% of our time indoors, in normal times. During a pandemic, especially one carrying over into the winter months, that number is only going to increase.

Any of the below materials or conditions can cause indoor air pollution, as they can release gases or particles into the air.

  • Building materials and materials used in furnishings, like:
    • Asbestos-containing insulation or other building materials that have deteriorated or broken down
    • New carpet, flooring, or upholstery
    • Pressed wood products used in cabinetry or furniture
  • Combustion appliances that burn fuel
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Household cleaning and maintenance products
  • Personal care products
  • Chemicals or products used for hobbies or leisure activities
  • Home HVAC systems
  • Excess indoor humidity
  • Outdoor sources such as:
    • Radon
    • Pesticides
    • Outdoor air pollution

According to the EPA, there are three primary points to address that can help improve the indoor air quality in your home. These include:

  • The source of the pollutant
  • The ventilation in your home
  • Air cleaning or purification

A human hand holds a device measuring dust particles and other data for clean air

Pollutant Sources

Controlling the entry of air pollutants into your home usually involves eliminating the source, itself, or minimizing its emissions. Simple, day-to-day steps you can take include using entry mats, mopping your hard floors instead of sweeping them, and using a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters – and changing those filters regularly. Other, larger sources of pollution like gas stoves and water heaters, can be adjusted to decrease emissions. Further, areas with building materials that contain asbestos may be sealed or enclosed to prevent emissions altogether. These are often the most cost-effective, inexpensive ways to control the sources of indoor air pollutants.

Whole House Humidifiers

Part of eliminating pollution sources in your home includes proper humidification. Controlling indoor humidification levels helps minimize and eliminate unhealthy airborne pollutants like mold. Having too much or too little humidity in the home poses risks to the well-being of individuals in the home, and potentially causes costly damage to the home itself. Today’s whole-house humidifiers and humidity controls work to maintain relative indoor humidity (RH) levels within recommended ranges.

Aprilaire whole-house humidifier

Proper humidity levels improve overall comfort and wellness by reducing dry air, which leads to dry, flaky skin, and fosters the growth of bacteria and viruses. Whole house humidifiers help homeowners maintain humidity at levels defined by the American Lung Association.


Young girl works at remote schooling with a window open in the background.

Another means for protecting the air quality in your home is to increase ventilation options. There are a number of steps you can take to make sure the air flowing through your home via the central heating, cooling, and ventilation system is clean and safe. The most basic parts of this approach are to make sure your home has enough ventilation. Frequently, home HVAC systems like forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house.

Actions requiring minimal effort like opening windows and doors, using window or attic fans, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open can help increase the outdoor ventilation rate, particularly in the warmer months. During the winter, it’s important to have local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors. These can help send direct contaminants straight from the room where the fan is located outside, and also help to increase the outdoor air ventilation rate. Other, more complex solutions include ventilators, duct cleaning, and Aeroseal® Duct Sealing.

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) and Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV)

If you’re remodeling or building a new home, you may want to consider a whole-house ventilation system. These provide options to create better filtration in your home without using outside air. You can do this by using a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HVR) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). Broan’s Sky Series is designed to provide a continuous supply of fresh air to the home while sending stale air and pollutants outside. It also helps manage excess moisture – making it particularly effective for energy-efficient homes.

Man cleaning air ducts in home.

If your duct systems are not clean, or have leaks, bacteria and other contaminants can easily enter your home’s airflow via cold air returns. They can also grow in your ducts if the environment is moist or humid. These pollutants leak into the airflow from gaps in your system as it passes through your ductwork. Having your ducts cleaned regularly is a good idea under normal circumstances. In a pandemic? It’s a must. All American Heating also offers duct sanitizing to ensure that any existing bacteria and contaminants are removed from your ductwork.

Once your duct system is clean and sanitized, it’s the perfect time to have them sealed with Aeroseal Duct Sealing from the Inside. Aeroseal is a unique and innovative system that sprays an adhesive, aerosol sealant into your home’s ducts and return air vents. As it flows through the duct system, the sealant collects at gaps, cracks, and holes, sealing them. This helps prevent those external contaminants from entering your home’s airflow, meaning there are fewer of them for you and your family to breathe in.

Tech runs Aeroseal machine

Air Cleaning

The third category for improving your indoor air quality is cleaning your air. Once again, these options range from the simple to the more complex. It can be as easy as changing your disposable air filters regularly and using portable air-cleaning units. Or, you can take a more involved approach, including options like professional duct cleaning (mentioned above), high-performance air filters, and germicidal UV-light fixtures.

Disposable Furnace Air Filter

This seems like a simple one, but a lot of people miss it. Keeping clean air filters in your home’s HVAC system is an easy way to keep bacteria and other pollutants out of the air in your home. In addition to replacing your air filter regularly – we recommend doing it quarterly – you can also switch to using high-performance or permanent air filters. The media used in these filters to clean your air will still need to be changed regularly, but they offer more sophisticated filtering options that are up to 600% more effective at removing airborne contaminants from the air in your home.

One of the options that’s been getting a lot of attention during the pandemic is germicidal UV-light systems. These air treatment systems use UV light to kill airborne and surface microorganisms like mold and bacteria. Return air duct models can be mounted directly in your ductwork to kill germs before they recirculate. These air treatment products kill a high percentage of airborne bacteria as it passes by the light. Coil irradiation models are mounted above the central cooling coils on home A/C systems and continuously bathe the coils in UV energy to help stop mold from growing.

Germicidal UV Light Fixtures Help Eliminate Bacteria from the Air in your Home

Whatever solution you choose, All American Heating can help! Contact us for an indoor air quality audit and complete Home Air Quality Plan. We’ll help you choose the systems that are right for your home and family.

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