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Winterizing Your Home
12/06/2004

Did you know that winterizing (caulking, sealing and insulating) your home could create an unhealthy living environment? According to the American Lung Association (ALA), making homes too airtight and energy efficient can result in harmful particles and allergens, such as pet dander, dust and smoke being trapped indoors with no means of escape.

Since most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, that could create problems for the 36 million Americans with asthma and allergies.

However, proper measures can be taken to monitor the quality of indoor air. The ALA recommends these tips to control levels of indoor air pollution during the cooler months and throughout the year:

  • Run the furnace fan continuously, regardless of the outdoor temperature. It’s important to do so because the filter can only capture particles if the furnace fan is running.
  • Use a high efficiency furnace filter and replace the filter every two to three months. High efficiency filters capture up to 30 times more allergens (dust, pollen, pet dander) and particles than standard fiberglass filters.
  • Make sure gas cooking appliances are vented to the outdoors and the kitchen fan is turned on when such appliances are in use. These measures will help prevent dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide from accumulating in the home.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of the house. This will help determine unsafe levels of carbon monoxide, which could be caused by a malfunctioning heating and cooling system.
  • Never store more than a few pieces of firewood indoors. Storing firewood indoors can release harmful contaminants into the home.
  • Operate bathroom fans, if present, to remove moisture from showers (these fans should be ducted to the outside of the home), or simply crack the window to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Check all combustion and ventilation inlets to ensure they are free of debris. If such inlets are clogged with grass clippings, dust, lint, or other particles, clean them with a small paintbrush or an old toothbrush.
  • Make sure all fuel burning appliances, such as the furnace, hot water heater and gas range, are in working order and are examined annually by a professional.
  • When a wood fire is present, a window should always be kept open, especially in a tightly sealed energy, efficient house.

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