BOOST YOUR HOME’S HEALTH FACTOR BY ANNETTE BROOKS
With spring in full swing in the Lone Star State, it’s time to throw open the windows, let the fresh air and sunshine pour in, and participate in the time-honored tradition of spring cleaning. This year, go beyond the usual scrubbing, dusting, and organizing. Include a home detox to improve indoor air quality and the water you drink and address items that could pose a health and safety hazard. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
HVAC Filters – Most air filter manufacturers and HVAC companies recommend changing your air filter every three months. These out-of-sight, out-of-mind passive workhorses keep the air in your home cleaner by capturing pollutants and contaminants from the air that passes through them.
Be aware that not all filters are created equal. Generally, the more expensive they are, the more efficient and effective they are at trapping dust, pollen, and pet dander so it doesn’t keep circulating through your house. Check the filtering grade assigned by the manufacturer before you buy replacement filters, and don’t be tempted to pinch pennies here. Usually, the higher the rating, the better the filter is at trapping specific particle types.
Chimney Inspection and Cleaning – If you have a wood-burning fireplace, creosote — a dangerous byproduct from burning wood — can build up to the point that smoke and toxic gasses like carbon monoxide get trapped inside your home. Furthermore, creosote accumulation can lead to chimney fires. Chimney cleaning removes creosote, soot, and debris.
You won’t have creosote build-up with a gas or propane fireplace, but you still need to have your chimney inspected and maintained. Ceramic logs can deteriorate and clog vents, bird nests, and debris may obstruct airflow in your chimney, and your fireplace should be checked to ensure there are no leaks and that it’s in good working order.
Air Duct Cleaning – You’d be surprised at what can lurk in your home’s air ducts. Pollen, pet dander, mold and mildew, dust mites, fungal spores, and even bacteria and viruses in your air vents can wreak havoc on your family’s health and well-being. Look into air duct cleaning services that offer full source removal cleaning, which includes breaking contaminants loose from surfaces and continuously collecting them to prevent any spread during the process. Many companies also offer antimicrobial, EPA-approved products they apply to nonporous surfaces in your HVAC system to address microbial contamination and help control odors.
IMPROVE YOUR HOME’S WATER QUALITY
Get a whole house water filter and enjoy cleaner, safer water from every tap. Ask your water quality consultant about different systems and look for those that follow NSF/ANSI standards. A global, independent organization, the NSF standards team “facilitates the development of public health standards,” and its service teams “test, audit, and certify products and services.
The Candle Debate
Do you love the scent and flickering flame of a candle burning in your home? I used to have a candle going somewhere in my house several hours a day and especially enjoyed using fresh scents. Then one day, when our HVAC tech was performing a spring check-up on our system, he walked into the room holding the HVAC filter he’d just replaced with a new one, and it was completely black.
The candle debate is controversial. Candle manufacturers claim they aren’t hazardous to our health, and some believe soy candles are healthier than paraffin candles. My personal choice was to install a whole-home air purification system that actively removes many odor-causing contaminants from the indoor air. And when I occasionally want a pleasant scent in my home, like when I’m entertaining, I use essential oil blends in a cold air diffusion machine.