1) Cap your sump pit. A properly capped sump pit will reduce radon gas, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. An added bonus: you deter the mice and rats from an unnecessary watering hole.
2) Change your air filters. Clean air filters will reduce the amount of harmful debris and particulates in the air.
3) HEPA Vac your house. Vacuuming your home with a functional HEPA filter vacuum containing a bag that is no more than halfway full will reduce organic matter (skin cells, dust, dirt, debris) leading to mold growth and dust mites. Make sure to use the correct vacuum attachment for your flooring. If you outsource your home cleaning, provide your housekeeper with a HEPA vacuum only to be used in your home to prevent unnecessary cross contamination of unwanted allergens.
4) Disinfect your bathroom. A proper disinfectant will kill off the nasty bacteria, viruses and fungi which thrive in your damp, moisture-rich bathroom. Let the solution sit for an appropriate dwell time of at least 5 minutes.
5) Run your dehumidifier and measure its effectiveness (especially in the basement). The typical dehumidifier at the hardware store typically lasts for 3-5 years. You can monitor the effectiveness of a dehumidifier with a hygrometer. The ideal range for humidity in the basement is below 45% (a warning: this is is tough to achieve unless your basement is drained with a sump pump or existing plumbing line). Newer dehumidifiers have a convenient hygrometer already built in so you can set the appliance to 40%; when the moisture in the air rises above 40%, the dehumidifier kicks on and consequently turns off when the air saturation dips below 40%.
6) Safely dispose of unwanted paint cans and other volatiles. The pyramid of toxic fumes in your garage or basement can off gas into living areas and contaminate the air quality with excess volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When in doubt, safely throw it out.
7) Run a high quality room air purifier in your bedroom and living rooms. Most purifiers that we test don’t live up to what the manufacture states. However, a few really do improve air quality. We like the IQAir (www.iqair.com) and Austin Air (www.austinair.com) brand purifiers based on before and after testing. These brands are top picks with our clients who want the best possible air quality in their home. www.allergybuyersclub.com is an excellent resource to compare products and read independent reviews.
8) Open the windows. Encourage fresh air whenever possible. Take a look to see if there is an opportunity to install a standalone ventilation system like EZ Breathe (www.ezbreathe) in your basement or if you can retrofit your AC unit with a recovery system. Also make it a habit of running the shower exhaust fan for at least 30 minutes after bathing. The exhaust should be firmly secured through the exterior or soffit vents.
9) Declutter. Not only is it satisfying to lighten your load, but you’re also improving airflow and reducing the overall surface area in your home for dusts and allergens to cling on to. The closet crammed with porous clothing or that nook under the stairwell packed full with cardboard boxes create a most favorable environment for molds, dust mites and odors.
10) Encase your mattress. Even if you doubt that your mattress is 50 pounds heavier with dust mite matter, it’s still a good idea to protect your body from unwanted allergens and your mattress from excess sweat. Have you looked at the water stains on your pillow or mattress pad lately?