How to Air Out a House

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If your house has been closed up because of summer heat or winter cold, if you've cooked something that has added a strong and unpleasant odor to your house, or if your house has been permeated by smoke from your fireplace or from tobacco, you may want to consider airing out your house. There are ways to air out your house by bringing in fresh air from the outdoors.

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Rid Your House of Pollutants

Your house may have more pollutants than you know, especially if you never open your windows or if the air seems to be a bit stale. Cooking odor buildup and secondhand smoke are common causes of poor indoor air quality. Another cause is the residue from painting or sanding walls. The effects of all these pollutants can be exacerbated by high heat and humidity.

You may think that your air conditioning system or heat pump will eliminate any hazards from these sources, but most heating and cooling systems don't automatically bring fresh air into the home. There are things you can do to increase the intake of outdoor air into your home.

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If you can grill your food outside rather than using your stove top grill or broiler, that's one way of keeping cooking pollutants out of the house. If you're welding, sanding, or refinishing furniture, those activities are best done outside. Any smoking that occurs at the home should also take place outdoors.

Ways To Ventilate Your Home

You're still going to end up with indoor smells that you need to get rid of, however. Opening windows and doors is a simple solution, but there are effective ways of bringing in outdoor air. Cross-ventilation is a matter of opening windows directly across from each other. This allows air to enter and exit your home easily. It's not as effective as some mechanical measures, however.

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Take advantage of fans by using a window fan that can act as an exhaust fan. Place a reversible twin window fan in an open window. Many reversible twin fans come with side panels enabling them to be used in windows without screens. Set the fan blades on reverse so it draws air from the indoors to the outside.

You can also set a fan in a window in one room. Open a window in an adjoining room for about 30 minutes. Repeat that process for other adjoining rooms until you've aired out each room. Another solution is regularly using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms. This will help rid your home of cooking smells and dampness.

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More Ventilation Solutions

Using two pedestal fans is another way to ventilate your home. Place one fan in front of a window with the blades set to bring air into the room. Place the second fan in front of an opposite window, turned so the fan is pushing air out of the window. The first fan will bring fresh air inside, while the second fan will push air outdoors.

If you have double hung windows, you can take advantage of these to provide some ventilation, although it's not as good as using fans or cross-ventilation. Open both the bottom and the top windows. This works best if the outdoor air is cooler than the indoor air. As outdoor air enters the room from the lower window, stagnant indoor air will rise and flow out the upper window.

Experts say regularly bringing outside air into your home is good for both your house and your health. On nice days, take advantage of that fresh air and open a window.

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Karen Gardner spent many years as a home and garden writer and editor who is now a freelance writer. As the owner of an updated older home, she jumps at the chance to write about the fun and not-so-fun parts of home repair and home upkeep. She also enjoys spending time in her garden, each year resolving not to let the weeds overtake them. She keeps reminding herself that gardening is a process, not an outcome.