3 Surprising Air Quality Mistakes That Ruin Your Holiday Dinner

November 30, 2018

AC maintenance summer tips

Holiday dinners are a big deal.

Many homeowners spend a lot of money and time to get everything right—from the food to the decor—since they’ll be sharing this special meal with friends and family.  

But the most overlooked aspect of holiday dinners is your home’s air quality. Which is unfortunate for your guests because poor indoor air quality can cause:

  • Irritated eyes, nose and throat

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

So what causes poor indoor air quality? We’re glad you asked.

Here are 3 surprising mistakes that can ruin your home’s air quality (and consequently your holiday dinner).

Mistake #1: Not changing your air filter

A clogged air filter allows a high amount of dust, mold spores, pollen and other air contaminants to accumulate in your house. And that can cause respiratory irritations such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, dry skin, etc.

Related: Forgot to Change Your AC’s Filter? 3 Reasons You May Regret It

What to do: If your filter looks like the one to the right, you need to change your air filter in order to keep your air free of irritating contaminants.

Clean vs. dirty air filter

So how often should you be checking your air filter? Well, that depends on the kind of filter you’re using and how much air contaminants your household produces. In general, though, if it’s a disposable, fiberglass filter (like the ones above) you’ll want to change those every 1 to 3 months.

If you’re using a higher quality, higher-MERV filter (rated 10 or higher on the MERV scale) but it’s thin (1 or 2 inches), you’ll want to check it every month and change it if necessary. That’s because higher MERV filters can catch a lot more contaminants than other filters. And if it’s thin, there isn’t much surface area to capture all those air particles. Which means it will get clogged faster than you might realize.

So, if you want to use a high-MERV filter, we suggest choosing one that is pleated and is 4 to 5 inches thick. Because thicker, high-MERV filters have larger pleats, you don’t have to change them as often as you would a thin, high-MERV filter.

Mistake #2: Burning scented candles

Yes, we know it’s tough to resist the perfect holiday-themed scented candle. But hear us out.

A lot of scented candles use fragrant oils that don’t burn cleanly and produce a large amount of soot. In fact, according to one study, burning one candle with these “bad” oils can produce 100 times more soot than low-soot producing candles.

Soot particles from a scented candle aren’t just bad for your health (and the health of your guests), they also leave ugly black streaks on walls, furniture, carpet, curtains, etc. And black stains all over your home can be a nightmare if you’re planning to have guests over.

What to do: If you can’t part with scented candles, we suggest sticking to these soot-preventing tips:

  • Choose candles that are hard to the touch at room temperature.

  • Keep burning candles away from fans, air vents, doorways or hallways (your candle flame produces more soot when it’s “disturbed” or flickering).

  • Don’t buy candles made with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil.

  • Keep your candle wicks trimmed to ¼ inch.

Mistake #3: Using air fresheners

Air fresheners are a staple in many homes. Yes, they’re great at hiding gross odors but they’re incredibly dangerous for your health, especially when used in confined spaces (like a bathroom or kitchen).

Most air fresheners release dangerous chemicals into your home, including:

  • Phthalates, a hormone-altering chemical that can cause birth defects and reproductive harm

  • Various carcinogens, including formaldehyde

What to do:

Throw out your air fresheners, even if they’re labeled as safe. NRDC tested 14 air freshener products, none of which listed phthalates as an ingredient, and found that they all contained this chemical. Even those labeled “all-natural” or “unscented”.

Instead, opt for natural solutions to rid your home of bad odors, such as:

  • Opening windows

  • Using essential oils (add a few drops to a spray bottle full of water and spray around your home)

  • Boiling water with a spice like cinnamon or nutmeg

  • Sprinkling baking soda inside trash cans, carpets, stinky shoes and inside the fridge to absorb bad odors

Want cleaner air all the time? Ask about our advanced options

We offer whole-home filtration systems to improve your indoor air quality.

Just contact us today to learn more about our air quality options.


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