Are you ready for the flu season this year? And, we don’t mean just getting your shot. We’re talking about making sure your HVAC system is prepared to help you fight off a cough, a cold, or worse.
That’s right, your heating and cooling system can do more than keep you comfortable: It can also help keep you in good health. That is, if you take the right steps.
In the winter, your heater plays a significant role in your indoor air quality. And, given that we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, and indoor air is often more polluted than outside, it’s an integral part of your home to focus on.
In fact, if you do nothing, your heater can make things worse. Dust, germs, viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants can build up in the system, ducts, and vents. Then, they get circulated throughout your home.
Fortunately, it’s really easy — and not expensive — to get your system in shape. And, that’s what we’re focusing on in this article: Ways the heater in your Marmora, NJ home can improve your indoor air quality and keep you safe from the flu (and other ailments).
Our list features a bunch of easy DIY items, and then a few ideas to invest in if you’re especially concerned about your health.
As you’re reading, you may have some questions or want to know more about how to optimize your South Jersey home’s heating and cooling. If you do, we’re here to help! Call or email us at Broadley’s.
Five Ways To Use Your HVAC System to Fight The Flu
Ways to use your HVAC system to fight the flu this winter include:
- Replacing or Upgrading the Filter
- Getting a Tune-Up
- Cleaning the Vents
- Using a Humidifier
- Installing an Air Purifier
Replacing or Upgrading the Filter
The air filter on your furnace traps dust and dirt, so they don’t circulate through your home. The average ones don’t do much about viruses and germs, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
For starters, let’s just consider that the less junk you have moving through the air, the better. Even if the standard one-inch filters, or screens, only grab “bigger” stuff like dust, it’s still preventing you and others from sneezing and coughing — and potentially spreading tiny airborne pathogens.
So, if you haven’t changed your filter in a while, do so before you fire up your system. Ideally, you’d put in a new one every month. That way, it’s clean and doing the job properly.
Now, after that, you can start looking into specialized screens that trap smaller and smaller particles. You can tell how powerful yours is by its MERV rating.
The higher MERV ratings mean it captures smaller particles. Regular models are usually around 8 or 10. A 13 rating will start catching viruses. But, you don’t want to go any higher than that.
After a while, the filter is so strong that your system can’t even push air through it. Then you get weak circulation and possible damage to your heater.
We’ll look at ways to get better filtration later on.
Getting a Tune-Up
In general, you should get a tune-up for your heating and cooling system twice a year. That’s once for your central air, and again in the fall for your heater. For the flu season, we’re focusing on the latter.
Not only does regular maintenance prevent breakdowns and keep your energy bills low. It also goes a long way when it comes to indoor air quality.
Over time, your system collects dirt and dust on it. When you fire it up, all that junk comes flying through the ductwork again! The best way to clear it out is by calling for HVAC service before you start using it for the season.
Of course, you can’t get in and start cleaning off the fans and yourself, but we can!
Broadley’s goes through your system, from the furnace itself to the ducts, vents, and thermostat, with a fine-tooth comb. And, any HVAC company worth its salt should do the same.
Keeping everything clean helps in the same way a clean filter does: It prevents all sorts of airborne contaminants from spreading throughout your house.
Cleaning the Vents
Here’s one more that you can do yourself — and, when possible, do it before you start using your furnace: Clean your vents.
All sorts of nasty stuff — including viruses and bacteria — build up anywhere they can. With no air blowing through your vents for a while, they’ll find a home there. But, once the forced-air kicks back on, those pathogens spread all through the air again.
So, take a disinfectant wipe and scrub down those vents before firing up the furnace! It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t cost a thing.
If you’re especially concerned, however, you can also contact us about ductwork cleaning. This service isn’t always necessary. But, if your ducts are especially dirty, we can reach the places you can’t get to on your own.
Using a Humidifier
Next, let’s talk about adding moisture to the air. Dry air in the winter allows virus particles to travel further than in humid air. That makes it easier to catch them. Plus, people’s skin and mucous membranes dry out and crack, giving those pathogens a path into the body.
A humidifier in the winter makes a huge difference — particularly if you invest in a whole-home solution that directly attaches your HVAC system.
Cold air is naturally dryer than warm air because warm air naturally holds more water vapor. The problem at home in the winter is that your heating system adds heat to cold, dry air.
But, it doesn’t add moisture. That makes it extra dry.
The simple solution is buying an off-the-shelf humidifier. But, that only handles one room, at best. And, you have to keep turning it on and off.
You can make a much more significant impact with a model that attaches directly to your heating and cooling system. This way, it regulates the humidity for your entire house and keeps it in a healthy range.
Installing an Air Purifier
We saved the big guns for last: An air purifier connected to your heating and cooling system to treat the entire house. For this, we recommend the Reme Halo, which uses plasma technology to constantly send charges through your house to neutralize all sorts of microscopic airborne particles.
In fact, the company’s tagline is that it’s “Like giving your house a flu shot.” Based on the feedback we’ve received from homeowners in Marmora, Ocean City, Avalon, and Cape May, it’s an accurate description.
People say they can smell and feel their home cleaner in less than a day.
Other options include purifiers that use filters much stronger than MERV 13. These aren’t a problem, however, because those models have their own blowers. That feature prevents any extra air resistance.
HVAC Service Near Marmora, NJ
Based in Marmora, NJ, Broadley’s has offered professional, reliable HVAC service to South Jersey homes for nearly a century. This year, we can help you stay healthy in your home. Call or email us for a free indoor air quality consultation.