Improving the ventilation in your home can address dozens of issues. A home with stagnant air and poor ventilation isn’t just uncomfortable to live in, it can also be dangerous. Virus and bacteria particles can linger in the air, increasing your chances of getting sick. Plus, if you happen to live in a humid or damp area, that wet, stagnant air can damage your house, costing thousands in eventual repairs.
Thankfully, improving the ventilation in your home is actually pretty simple and doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
Most people massively underuse their kitchen range hoods. These handy over-stove ventilation systems not only pull smoke and steam out of the room, but also mitigate odors, improve air circulation, and eliminate airborne food particulates.
Always turn your range hood on before you start cooking, not midway through or afterward. Remember to perform regular maintenance, such as swapping out filters, cleaning up grease, and checking for warps and dents. You can clean metal filters with a wire brush and a bit of dish soap, while others are disposable.
Fans are invaluable when it comes to improving the airflow in your home. You have so many options, from units with multiple heads and reverse airflow to the simple box fan. Even the most basic variety can improve ventilation with the right placement and settings.
People tend to place single-direction fans blowing inward so the breeze enters a room. However, it’s often far better to place the fan blowing out of the room that you want to ventilate. While any fan can do this, oscillating fans tend to better move the air.
If your concern is airborne particulates and bacteria, there’s no better choice than an air purifier. These devices are government-rated and many are hospital-quality with HEPA filters that clean over 99.7 percent of particulates over 0.3 microns.
Air purifiers are great for reducing the chance of sickness from airborne germs and for making the air less irritating for people with conditions like asthma. Each unit is rated for specific room size and volume of air, so make sure to choose one that can handle the required square footage.
Sometimes the simplest option is the best. Many houses have poor ventilation that you can easily address by opening a few windows. Think about the airflow and direction of your windows and doors. Close the doors of unused rooms and open all other interior doors. Strategically choose windows to create drafts that flow through each room. If your home has particularly poor airflow, you should combine open windows with fans to move air around.
Some windows have two sections that can open. Open the top section on the downwind side of your home and the bottom section on the upwind side to create a natural breeze.
In many cases, it’s not that the ventilation in a home is noticeably poor, but the upkeep. Vents and air ducts accumulate dirt, dust, and other grime that clog them and limit airflow.
Turn off the power to your heating and air conditioning systems before performing any maintenance on your vents and ducts. Use a wire brush to remove dust, though you may need some soap and water if there’s a lot of filth. If you have a heavy-duty vacuum, use a hose and deep clean the interiors of your ducts.
Most people are familiar with non-pleated air filters. They’re often more affordable and are compatible with pretty much any air system. However, non-pleated filters are much worse at catching small particles, which leaves particulates and bacteria floating in the air. Pleated filters can be a bit higher in cost, but are much better at catching small particles. Additionally, they often consist of tight-weave materials like paper, cotton, or polyester, while non-pleated filters are fiberglass or another electrostatic material.
People prone to illnesses or allergies are often much better off using pleated air filters.
Portable air cleaners are essentially compact air purifiers that you can move around as you please. Many portable air cleaners utilize HEPA filters, so it’s not about the effectiveness of capturing particulates, but instead about how much air they can clean in a reasonable amount of time.
Because they’re smaller, portable air cleaners can’t ventilate large rooms as full-size air purifiers can. However, they’re also much less expensive than full-size units.
You may have seen small, water bottle-sized air filters that can fit in a bag or backpack. Because of their size, you shouldn’t expect these little tools to cleanse your whole room. However, if you position them as close to your face as possible, they are decently effective in providing you with a stream of clean air.
Travel-sized air filters are a great choice for improving ventilation and cleaning the air in a cubicle or a similar work environment.
Though it might seem too simple to be effective, closing blinds can improve a room’s ventilation. open windows let in all kinds of outside contaminants and let out small amounts of air, especially if they’re a bit older and aren’t quite as airtight.
Closing your blinds adds a barrier that prevents these particles from moving beyond the window space. Make sure to open the blinds occasionally and clean out any accumulated dust or dirt.
Little tips and tricks are not always enough to improve the ventilation in a space. This is where it may become necessary to invest in a ventilation system. Some of the least expensive options are exhaust systems, which pull stale, contaminated, or damp air out of rooms. Positive input ventilation systems are great for when you don’t want to do a full remodel, but still need to bring fresh air into a stagnant space, like a loft or apartment.
Beyond these choices are the higher-cost and much more extensive systems, such as continuous mechanical extract ventilation or heat recovery ventilation, which utilize both exhaust and supply airflows.