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Clean Air Tips for Your Home

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 30, 2021
From the WebMD Archives

Most indoor air pollution comes from things in your home like your furniture or gas stove that release gas and other debris into the air. Everyday living and pets can also lead to indoor air problems like dust, mold, and dander. Here are some clean air tips for your home.

Check Your Ventilation

Ventilation and air exchange are a key part of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, called HVAC, that help maintain clean air. You should monitor your home’s ventilation.

Inspect outdoor vents. Certain laws set out the amount of fresh air that has to be drawn in to mix with indoor air in your home. In order to do that, the vents outside have to be open. Inspect your system regularly to make sure it’s working properly and the vents are open. ‌

Keep return air vents clean. The vents inside your home are also important to your home's air quality. The large vents on your wall are called return air vents, and they pull your indoor air back to your heating and cooling system for ventilation and heating or cooling. Keep these vents clean of dust and don’t block them.‌

Use your kitchen exhaust fan. Your home should have an exhaust fan in the kitchen. Turn this on when you’re cooking as it draws particles and gases out of the air at the source. This is especially important if you cook on a gas stove. Heaters and stoves that burn fuel also release carbon monoxide, which can make you very sick.‌

Open a window. If your kitchen doesn’t have an exhaust fan or it’s not vented properly, open a window while you cook. You should also open a window slightly if you use a gas heater.‌

Open the fireplace flue. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you will have a flue inside the chimney. This is the duct that lets smoke and gas out of your home. If you don’t open it, smoke will pollute your home.‌

Change your filters. Most furnaces and air conditioners have an air filter meant to filter dust and debris. If this becomes clogged, your system might not work properly, which can affect the air.

Control Moisture for Clean Air in Your Home

Too much moisture in your home leads to mold, mildew, bugs, and bacteria. This can be caused by moist vapor like steam, water-damaged areas, or standing water.‌

To keep clean air:‌

Use the bathroom fan. The exhaust fan in your bathroom pulls out humid air and any contaminants or living things in your bathroom. Make sure to turn the fan on during steamy showers and baths. ‌

Use your kitchen fan. Your kitchen exhaust fan over your stove pulls out humid air from cooking and washing. Turn it on when you’re cooking and working in the kitchen. ‌

Use a dehumidifier. If you live in a humid climate, you might find your home has too much moisture. Using a dehumidifier can help. It’s also helpful after you’ve had water damage or a damp basement. ‌

Check your dryer vent. Your dryer should be vented to the outside to move heat, moisture, and chemicals outside. If it’s unvented or not working properly, you can have moisture and particles in your laundry room. If your dryer is gas-fired, it can also release carbon monoxide if it’s not vented properly.‌

Fix water damage. If your home has been damaged by a flood or other water problem, fix it as soon as possible. If you can’t fix it right away, at least get rid of the damaged materials. Letting them sit in your home can lead to mold and bacteria growth, which can make you sick. 

Don’t Smoke Inside

Smoking and secondhand smoke are unsafe for your health. Cigarettes and smoke are full of harmful chemicals that can make you sick. Children and adults exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher chance of getting heart disease. Children are also more likely to get ear infections, lung infections, and worsened asthma and allergies. ‌

Your home can still have clean air if you’re a smoker. You can:

Quit smoking. Ideally, you should stop smoking. Smoking is harmful to your health and increases your risk of disease. ‌

Smoke outside. If you can’t quit smoking, don’t smoke inside your home. Always go outside even if it’s cold or wet or uncomfortable. Make sure the doors and windows to your home are closed so the smoke doesn’t go back inside. 

Bottom Line

Maintaining your systems, filters, and vents and using good practices are important for keeping clean air in your home. It’s worth it to have a licensed HVAC contractor inspect your systems and make sure you’re taking the right steps. 

WebMD Feature provided in collaboration with Healthy Child Healthy World

Sources

SOURCES:

California Childcare Health Program: “Indoor Air Quality.”

Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School: “Easy ways you can improve indoor air quality.”

NIH National Cancer Institute: “Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting.”

United States Consumer Product Safety Commission: “The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Indoor Air Can Cause Health Problems.”

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