There is so much to love about the holiday season: festive fun, twinkle lights, delicious food, and spending time with loved ones. Unfortunately, joy and cookie plates aren’t the only things that get shared this time of year as we get into the thick of cold and flu season. Protect yourself and your family this winter and follow these steps to a healthier, safer home:
Influenza and other viruses may live longer and spread more easily in dry, low-humidity indoor air, due partly to ideal conditions for viruses and partly because our respiratory system depends on a properly hydrated mucus membrane to stay protected and healthy, according to an Oregon State University study. Plus, if you or someone in your home is already ill, maintaining balanced humidity can also help ease cough and congestion symptoms and other sinus issues.
Per research from the Mayo Clinic, increased humidity in the “sweet spot” of 30-50% relative humidity may ease breathing in children and adults who have asthma or allergies. In addition to helping keep you and your family healthier this winter, proper indoor humidity can help you feel warmer and reduce your heating costs too!
Change Your Air Filter (or Schedule Your HVAC Maintenance!)
To get a healthier, safer indoor environment, start with the home appliance that affects every room in your house: your HVAC system! Keep your air clean (and your system working safely/efficiently) by changing your standard 1” pleated filter every 3-6 months, or more often if you have air factors such as pets, renovation dust/high traffic, woodburning fireplaces, holiday candles, and more.
Have trouble getting in the habit of changing your air filter regularly? Add a recurring reminder on your phone or a note on the family calendar. Or, sign up for a JK Alliance Membership from JK Mechanical, and let us take care of the filter changes for you.
Update Smoke & CO Protection
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, winter is one of the most dangerous times of the year both for home fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning thanks to higher risk factors such as combustion furnaces and boilers, space heaters, fireplaces, holiday baking, festive candles, and more. After you’ve scheduled your regular HVAC maintenance to make sure everything is working safely, it’s also a good time to make sure you have CO detectors in place to ensure safe and healthy air quality throughout your home.
Add Air Purification
Because chilly winter weather and warm family gatherings mean more people spending more time indoors with less fresh air, maintaining good Indoor Air Quality can be especially challenging in the winter heating months, which in turn can lead to the spread of viruses and influenza. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside our homes can have three to five times more pollutants than the outdoors. Adding accessories to your HVAC system such as an Air Purifier that eliminates 99.9% of contaminants and viruses (including influenza and the SARS-COV-2 virus) can significantly improve the air you breathe at home, increase comfort, and support your family’s wellness with very little to no additional maintenance costs or work.
Bonus Tip: Depending on the specific size and concerns of your home, facility, or family, adding adequate clean outdoor air and ensuring proper ventilation can be just as important to preventing the spread of viruses and allergens indoors. For smaller homes, this can be as simple as making sure your HVAC equipment is well-maintained and that air filters are changed regularly. For larger homes, more crowded homes or higher-risk occupants, and many facilities such as churches and schools, energy-efficient ventilation equipment such as Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs), Makeup Air Units (MAUs), Dedicated Outdoor Air Systems (DOAS), and more can be used to greatly improve air safety while also boosting energy efficiency and lowering utility bills. Every building is different, so talk to your service technician at your next tune-up or request an assessment now.
Watch Your Water
A small water leak at your water heater or below a sink can seem like a small inconvenience. However, over time, excess moisture (especially in areas that you can’t access easily such as in crawl spaces or basements) can lead to mold, mildew, and even attract pests in addition to driving your water bills up. Inspect plumbing fixtures and components regularly to ensure they’re in safe working condition, and address small leaks quickly before they cause larger issues. For out-of-the-way areas where you may not notice a leak right away (or if you travel frequently and are concerned about a leak or flood while you’re away from home), consider adding a smart device such as the Honeywell Lyric Freeze & Leak detector, which can send an alert right to your smartphone if an issue is detected.
The heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical experts at JK Mechanical are available to help keep your home or facility cozy and safe all winter long. Contact us today for assistance.