Alberta residents cannot live comfortably through the winter without a furnace. For example, Edmonton's coldest month is January when average temperatures range from lows of -19 to highs of -8 degrees Celsius (-2 to 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit). With those frigid temperatures outside, Albertans need a well-functioning furnace to create a cozy home where they can escape the cold.
Unfortunately, some furnaces stir up other problems as they provide an alternative to the freezing winter air. Many gas furnaces blow out air particles that aggravate allergies or asthma symptoms. Gas furnaces can also contribute to lower indoor humidity, exacerbating to cold symptoms or making skin dry out. If you notice those problems always cropping up during the winter, your furnace may be part of the problem.
But, your furnace can also be part of the solution. Below you can learn more about two furnace options that can help you fight these common health problems.
The Problem: Aggravated Asthma or Allergies
Alberta's mild summers mean you can give your furnace a reprieve a few months a year. But while your furnace rests, dust and other fine particles have time to settle in your ducts. The first time you turn your furnace on in the late fall, the circulating air stirs up those particles. They exit the vents into your rooms where you breathe them in. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, those air particles can flare up your symptoms.
You should be able to breathe easy in your own home. You can relieve some of that irritation by hiring someone to clean your ducts before you switch on your furnace in the fall. Then, keep your air clean by using effective air filters in your furnace.
The Solution: Stringent Air Filters
You have several options for removing the irritating air particles from the air you breathe at home. You can choose portable air-cleaning units that filter the air in a specific room, or you have a range of in-furnace filter strengths to choose from. Which option gives you the cleanest air?
First, let's compare portable units to filters that work from inside the furnace itself. Filtering the entire home with an in-furnace filter reduces air particulates better than using portable units in several rooms. Consequently, it seems that your furnace's air filter is more reliable than separate units.
Second, you need to know which air filters to use in your furnace. Should you splurge for the higher-priced, high-rated filters? Or will your home's air stay decently clear with the lower-cost, low-efficiency filters?
You'll get the best results with a higher-rated filter. The same 2011 study referenced above found that low-efficiency filters hardly work better than no filter at all. But, that doesn't mean you should choose the highest-rated filter available. Spring for a filter with a MERV rating between 10 and 12. Filters with that rating will catch most particles but still allow enough air to flow that your furnace won't have to work overtime.
Before you buy, check your furnace manual to make sure it can handle a filter of that strength. If it can't, consider replacing your furnace with a newer model. Also, replace your filters every 1–3 months to ensure that your home's air quality stays high.
The Problem: Dry Skin or Persistent Cold Symptoms
Do you find yourself slathering lotion and applying lots of lip balm in the wintertime? You're not alone. Cold, winter air holds less humidity, so our skin has less available moisture to soak up.
Dry winter air can also exacerbate the symptoms of a minor cold. Dry eyes and itchy noses have a harder time healing with so little relief-offering moisture available. And if you have dry skin and a cold at the same time, you'll probably find that blowing your nose becomes uncomfortable and painful.
You don't have to accept overly dry skin or scratchy eyes as a part of life during the winter. Instead, you can install a new furnace to relieve your discomfort.
The Solution: Sealed-Combustion Furnace
Your furnace's combustion chambers fits into one of the categories: atmospheric combustion or sealed combustion. Both types draw in less humid air from the outdoors. However, a sealed-combustion furnace sends that less humid air back out after using it in the combustion reaction that produces heat. The dehumidified outdoor air never combines with the conditioned air circulating in your home.
Thanks to this sealed loop, sealed-combustion furnaces make it easier for a home to maintain comfortable levels of humidity. Some outdoor air still enters when you open doors to enter and leave, but you don't have a continuous stream of outdoor air getting in through your furnace.
Fight Health Struggles with the Right Furnace
Are you ready to say so long to annoying dry skin, persistent allergy issues, recurring asthma symptoms, or uncomfortable colds? Better furnace filters or a new furnace might be a big part of the solution. Contact us at EZ Plumbing for a consultation. They can help you find a system that will make your home more comfortable and suited to your needs.