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Improve the Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

Posted on Aug 13, 2020 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

Air conditioning equipment

Q: I want to keep my family safe at home, since we are spending so much more time indoors than usual. Any ideas for what I can do to make my home a haven?

A: Health and safety should always be a top priority within your home, and indoor air quality is a major—and majorly overlooked—aspect of that. There are many efficient ways you can update your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system to achieve an exceptional level of comfort and great indoor air quality.

Upgrade Your Air Filter

Do you know what MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating your home’s HVAC filter is? The higher the MERV rating, the more particles your filter will catch, making it more effective. Filter ratings can range from 1 to 20, but the most common ratings for in-home filters start at MERV 8, MERV 11, or MERV 13. Filters with MERV ratings higher than 13 are typically found in hospitals and other areas that require extensively filtered air. A MERV 8 will filter out basic household pollutants such as pollen, dust, and bacteria. A MERV 11 will filter the aforementioned, along with pet dander! Lastly, a MERV 13 is the “catch-all filter,” which catches the aforementioned, along with smoke, smog, and virus-carrying particles.

Change Your Air Filter Often

Keep your filter fresh and free of dirt, dust, pollen, and particles with routine maintenance. Depending on your filter size, it is recommended to change your filter every one to three months. If you have a four-inch filter in your home, go ahead and wait a full three months. If your filter is one inch, change it once per month. If you find dust particles settling on surfaces or floating around your indoor air more often than you’d like, consider changing your filter even more frequently. A dirty filter can cause extensive damage to your entire HVAC system, preventing it from efficiently filtering air.

Get Your Ducts Cleaned

When was the last time you had your ductwork cleaned? A thorough cleaning of your ductwork will improve your HVAC system’s air flow efficiency, remove settled allergens, and improve overall air quality and cleanliness. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends cleaning your ducts every two years. Be sure to hire a company that is NADCA-certified and follows NADCA cleaning protocols to ensure a quality job done right.

Consider Adding Air Conditioning (AC)

Do you like to sleep with the windows open to catch the cool night breezes? Consider having AC installed in your home instead. Having cool air filtered into your home eliminates the need to open windows, which helps prevent a number of airborne particles, allergens, and viruses from entering your home.

Run Your Furnace Fan 24/7

Continuously running your furnace fan on high will help ventilate and circulate the air in your home. Stagnant air causes dust and dander to settle, making for more irritable air quality. Constant airflow will help push unwanted particles into your filter and out of your home.

Invest in a Whole-Home Air Purifying System

Whole-home air purifiers work to remove more than what the eye can see. If you’re looking to remove harmful bacteria from surfaces, fight airborne viruses with a 99% kill rate, and eliminate odors from your home, a whole-home air purification system is a great option. These HVAC accessories are installed in your ductwork and can filter indoor air around 50 times better than standard air filters.

If You Don’t Have Ductwork, Consider a Portable Air Purifier (or Two)

A portable air purifier is a great option for homes that don’t have a ductwork system. These air purifying accessories work hard to keep pesky germs, allergens, viruses, and other harmful pollutants from spreading throughout your home. Because they aren’t in the ductwork, how big of an area they can purify is limited, so consider investing in more than one portable air purifier to use in rooms far away from each other.

There you have it. These seven HVAC hacks will help keep your family safe at home this summer, and beyond! Are you ready to get started?


Gabby Roppo is the marketing coordinator for Bob's Heating & Air Conditioning, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’ more than 2,600 members, write to

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