This time of year is known as late fall/early winter, but it’s also known as “cold and flu season.” You can get sick with a cold or the flu at any time, regardless of the season, but influenza viruses, bacteria, and nasty germs run rampant during the fall and winter. Since your family is likely spending more time indoors at this time of year, it’s no surprise that when one person in your household gets sick, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else is suffering, as well.
There are a number of things you can do to try and prevent the spread of germs in your home. You can clean commonly touched surfaces such as door handles, countertops, fridge handles, and the bathroom with bacteria-killing spray. You can also ask sick members of your household to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze or cough, and dispose of any used tissue in a waste receptacle and not on the floor, bed, couch, etc.
Regardless of how much you try and keep your home’s surfaces bacteria- and virus-free, and as much as you teach family members to be mindful of others when they’re sick, if you have a dirty air filter in your home, sooner or later the other folks in your home will likely get sick, too.
Dirty air filters
Your air filter is likely installed as part of your heating system. Its purpose is to trap airborne materials, such as dust, dirt, mold spores, pet dander, hair, bacteria, germs, and also the gaseous chemicals generated by common spray cleaners. When these contaminants are trapped by your filter, there’s a far lesser chance that they’ll get pushed into your living space along with conditioned air from your furnace.
It’s recommended that you replace your air filter monthly, more often if you have smokers or pets in your home as they could cause your filter to get dirty more quickly. If you aren’t swapping the filter out as often as you should, then warm air from your furnace will be passing through dirt, dust, and potentially also through bacteria, viruses, and germs if someone in your home is sick.
When this happens, every time your furnace cycles on, these germs will get pushed out into your home, where they can be breathed in and land on surfaces such as countertops, tables, furniture, bedding, and so on. Naturally, it’s only a matter of time before others in your home also fall prey to the same cold or flu symptoms.
What type of replacement filter do I need?
If you aren’t sure what new filter you need for your furnace, look at the existing one and make note of its size and MERV-rating. Often, this information is printed on the side of the filter’s frame. It may help to take a picture of these specifications with your phone so that you know what you’re looking for when purchasing a replacement online or in your local hardware store.
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Check our blog often for tips, tricks, and advice for homeowners just like you! We hope that you stay safe and healthy this cold and flu season.