Winter is coming! And no this is not the winter on the game of thrones that is yet to come after 8 years! The winter months are usually from December to February depending on where you live. Research conducted by the American lung association on home air quality showed that in the winter the indoor air is five times worse than outside.
This is because, over the winter season, most people remain indoors whenever possible and close all windows and doors, therefore, ensuring there is no or minimal air ventilation and air circulation. While most common household activities like cooking, laundry, and showering can easily add over 10 liters of water vapor into your indoor air. Excess moisture indoors creates the perfect environment for most allergens to thrive.
A hygrometer or as most people know it as a humidity monitor is available in most retail stores in any state for as little as $10 – will provide you with accurate relative humidity readings. The ideal relative humidity levels in your home should be between 30% to 50% to make it impossible for allergens to thrive.
In this post, we will provide you with a detailed explanation of :
- How to prepare your home for winter.
- Winter allergies – their causes and how to get relief.
- How to fight against winter dampness.
Winter has darker nights and there is an onslaught of rain, snow, frost, storms, and flooding that can cause structural damage to your home. It is therefore important to ensure your home is well maintained and you can also pay for some preventative winter maintenance, which would decrease the chances of any foreseen damage occurring.
Here is a maintenance guide:
- Better insulation: all exposed outside pipes should be wrapped with insulating sleeves, loft insulation can help you retain more heat indoor hence reduces the heating bill. The hot water cylinders and lag pipes should allow being insulated.
- Around whole house warm air circulation: During the extremely cold temperature days allow the warm air to circulate throughout the attic, basement, or crawlspace to keep every space warm.
- Frost: The extreme cold in the winter can cause pipes to freeze and burst. During the winter all exposed be insulted and the house should be warmed up indoors to avoid pipes freezing
- Check the roof: The roof should be inspected and repaired in case of any damages. This will guarantee the roof is not easily blown off in case of strong winds or ensure the roof can keep any water from getting into the house.
- Prune or cut down trees – Strong winds can easily fall a tree, which can cause serious damage o your house. Ensure that all the trees are pruned and all dead branches are removed. All trees should be clear of your house and any electricity cables.
- Drain heating systems: If your house will not be in use over the winter simply turning off the water is not enough to guarantee your pipes are not freeze and bust, all the water should be drained from the system to eliminate the risk.
- Windows: Ensure you check for wood rot and cracked putty. Check to ensure also the all the water flows away from the glass and putty and should never collect on the windows sill. The shutters should also be fastened to avoid damage. Airtight windows will keep the warm air indoors and the cold air out hence will low your heating bill.
- Check the gutters and drains: clean and repair the drains and gutters, remove all leaves and debris to ensure them will be no overflow causing water damage to the walls and roof. This will save you a lot of money on repairs.
- Seal off any cracks or gaps: Any gaps or cracks, especially around the windows, should be sealed off. This helps in keeping more heated air indoors.
- Check for leaks on all plumbing and appliances: Ensure there are no leaks in the washing machine, baths, dishwashers, taps, showers among other places. The smallest leaks can be the cause of dampness and wood rot.
- Electricity surges: Invest in surge protectors to protect your electrical appliance from power surges.
Since at this point you understand how you will keep your home safe and secure this winter, let now take a look at how to keep winter allergens away from your indoor space for better comfort levels. while the winter season comes with a significant decrease in seasonal pollen, still millions of people will experience allergies.
During the winter season, most people will spend most of their time indoors. With little air ventilation and circulation, your home can easily become the perfect environment for winter allergens to thrive.
Common winter allergens include :
- Mold – This fungus grows in damp spaces like the basement, crawlspace, or bathroom. Mold spores are small and light once airborne they can be easily inhaled. Mold spore has been proven to be allergy symptoms triggers.
- Dust mites – They are microscopic bugs that thrive in spaces with high humidity levels. dust mites are known to cause allergy symptoms.
- Animals – Most pets tend to stay indoors during the winter, if you are allergic to animal fur, saliva, urine, or dander, your allergies will increase.
Most of these allergens thrive in spaces with high humidity levels. increased humidity indoors makes it easy for mold, mildew, and dust mites to increase exponentially.
Symptoms of winter allergies
Allergies symptoms caused by mold, animals, and dust mites include:
- Itchy eyes and nose.
- Watery eyes.
- Dark circles around the eyes.
What are the common differences between winter allergies and colds?
|– Itchy eyes and throat
||– Chill and body aches.
|– Symptoms are persistent, can last week or even months
||– Symptoms last not more than 7 days.
|– Nasal secretions are clear and watery
||– Discolored nasal secretion.
There is treatment available for winter allergies :
- Antihistamines – reduce sniffling, itching, and sneezing.
- Decongestants – clear mucus hence relieves swelling and congestion.
- Immunotherapy – exposes the body to allergens in the hope of the body develops a natural resistance to the allergens.
Minimize indoor allergens by :
- Investing in a dehumidifier this winter season – A dehumidifier is an electric appliance that removes excess moisture from the air. Investing in a dehumidifier would keep the relative humidity below 50%. At that level mold, mildew and dust mites will not be able to survive. This reduces the number of allergens significantly. Ensure the dehumidifier you buy is fitted with a HEPA air filter to easily remove any mold spore and another allergen in the air.
- Minimize the amount of pet contact. Keep the pets away from the bedroom.
- Change clothes and shower several times a day.
- Wipe down wet surfaces, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. This helps reduces mold growth.
- Have someone Dust and vacuum the house and the surface of items in the house often when the allergies are severe.
- Avoid having wall to wall carpeting, especially on concrete floors. This provides the ideal environment for mold and dust mite to thrive on the dampness trap between the floor and carpet.
- Bathe the pets often, to wash away dander and any other allergens from the fur.