A Breathe of Fresh Air

After a long winter with the windows shut tight, things like pet dander, pollen, dust mites and smoke can linger in the air and inside your house – leaving you and your family vulnerable to scratchy throats, itchy eyes and more. Read on for some simple ways to improve your indoor air quality. Vacuum these. Your drapes and upholstery. A quick going-over will remove accumulated allergens. Then crack open a few windows everyday and enjoy the fresh air. TIP: Now is also a great time to snap new filters into AC units in preparation for summer.

Clear vents. Don't block heating and air conditioning vents with things like books, plants or furniture. When this happens, air can't flow normally. This reduces the supply of fresh air and circulation.

Prevent mold and dampness. Since moisture promotes mould growth, dampness is one of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality in homes. Keep the air well circulated, use ceiling fans to keep air moving through parts of the house that may become damp or humid. Controlling the level of moisture is one of the best and easiest ways to improve indoor air quality and protect your health.

Sniff here. In your basement and attic. A damp, musty smell could be mold. Using a flashlight, you or a home inspector can check for the telltale signs of water stains, discolored areas on the floor or walls, or dark patches of fuzz. Spot a problem? Mix one cup of bleach with a gallon of water and, wearing gloves, wipe it away. Note: if the area is larger than 10 feet, call a pro.

For added safety: Check the pilot lights on your stove and furnace, if the flames are yellow on top, they may be releasing too much carbon monoxide. Call your local gas company; most will send someone over for little or no cost.