Every forced-air heating system, like a furnace, has a filter (or it should). When you run your heater, it first sucks in air from around the home and then heats it before blowing air back out to the rooms. Any dust or debris in the air could get sucked in and forced out with it, but the furnace helps to prevent this and protect your heater from damage that could be caused by that incoming debris.
However, this doesn’t mean that air coming out of the vents is always healthy. With winter comes viruses, bacteria, and other potential causes of illness that are airborne, so you should consider taking additional steps to protect your indoor air quality. Here are our suggestions.
Change the Filter Regularly
That means at least every 1-3 months. First, do it for the good of your heating system. A clogged filter won’t be able to pick up as much air, which means your system might become overworked.
Changing the filter is also better for your air quality, as any bacteria, viruses, or mold spores lodged in the filter may have time to multiply and spread to your home. Just be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions completely if cleaning a reusable filter instead of replacing a disposable one.
Upgrade the Filter
If people in your home have allergies or asthma, you may look to upgrade to a filter that can eliminate more allergens and irritants from the air. This means looking for a filter with a MERV rating over 4, or switching to a HEPA filter. However, we advise speaking with a technician or consulting your system manual first, to be sure the filter is compatible (and won’t restrict airflow).
Consider an Air Purifier
An air filter only eliminates contaminants up to a certain size, but the right air purifier can do much more. We highly recommend UV air purifiers to assist your heater. This is positioned near the furnace and emits a UV light that kills most of the bacteria and viruses passing through, so they are no longer harmful to breathe in.
Maintain Your Humidifier
In many parts of the country, humidifiers are common as cold, dry air adds to the agony of illnesses and makes it difficult to stay comfortable. While whole-house humidifiers are a great protection against this, they must be properly maintained. That humidity can make it more likely that mold or mildew can build up on the system, so be sure to clean out your dehumidifier according to humidifier instructions each year and replace the pad.
Keep the Heater Maintained
Poor air quality in the winter can come from many sources, some more dangerous than others. Carbon monoxide leaks and fire dangers are very real possibilities as you run your heater, so be sure to schedule an inspection each and every year. Regular maintenance is also important, and most companies offer this service as well—cleaning and tuning the system so it runs as safely and efficiently as possible.
Schedule service for your HVAC system in Cincinnati, OH with the friendly team at Bartels Heating & Cooling.