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How’s the Air in There

Check out these tips for a breath of fresh air in your home

Some days, the air inside your house can be just about as polluted as the air outdoors.

You can change that—and you should. After all, most of us spend 90 percent of our time indoors.

Clear up the air inside your home, especially if household members have head­aches or suffer from allergies. Here’s how to start:

If your house is pretty new, it’s likely that your builder made it airtight so your air-conditioning and heating systems would work more efficiently. If that’s the case, the house needs proper ventilation to keep the air circulating, which will help prevent indoor air pollution. If your indoor air smells “stale” or if you or your family suddenly feels uncomfortable because of it, have your ventilation system checked.

Furnaces and stoves should be directly vented to remove moisture and combustion byproducts from your home. Bathrooms should have exhaust fans to pull moisture outside. Clothes dryers should be vented to the outdoors.

Seal cracks and insulate walls in the basement to prevent pollutants from soil—such as radon—from entering the house. Use cement grout or caulk to seal visible cracks in foundation walls or floors.

Check and clean your furnace every year to prevent damaged heat exchangers or blocked flues from spewing pollutants into indoor air.

Change furnace filters frequently. The filters not only protect furnace equipment, but high-quality filters can also trap pollutants from the air.

Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Unlike some other pollutants, carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, so you won’t know when it’s in the air until it’s too late.

Paints, solvents, household cleaners and air fresheners can contain pollutants. Use them with windows open and exhaust fans on.

If you need to remove lead paint from your home’s walls and ceilings, call a professional. The removal process can cause serious health risks if not done properly.