Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

10 Tips for a Mold-Free House

4 minute read

October is the time of the year when most of us start thinking about sealing the hatches in our homes for the season. But before you do that, it’s healthy to check if your home is mold-free. You might be trapping it inside to keep you company all winter long.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mold growth can exist practically anywhere. Whether you are inside or outside, mold spores are there. They can enter your home through openings as large as doors or windows, or as small as the tiniest gap you ever chased with a caulk gun. Once in your home, the spores can grow on clothes, shoes, toys or even pets. Worse yet, mold is almost certain to release clouds of potentially harmful spores that, once airborne, can take the shortest path to your lungs.

Some molds are harmful, others are benign. And, how mold affects you can depend on your own personal sensitivity. Mold expert Jeff May learned this first hand. The Johns Hopkins University Press author of three books (‘My House is Killing Me,’ ‘My Office is Killing Me’ and the ‘Mold Survival Guide’), wasn’t always such an accomplished expert on how mold can make you really sick.

“For years, I had an office air conditioner that was probably too big for the space. As a result, my office was always damp and I’d cough whenever the AC came on. Then one day I opened it up and found that everything inside had turned black — with Cladosporium mold. That was the defining moment when I put two and two together,” he said.

According to May, the first step to making your home mold-free is to understand what makes it tick. Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, air and food, and this combination can be found just about anywhere in your home. “Mold grows where it can find food: the dust on a bathroom ceiling, the starch paste on the back of wallpaper, or the plant fibers that make up the jute pad under a carpet. Add moisture, and mold growth begins,” said May.

Keep your home mold-free:

Mind the Moisture

Keep humidity between 30-60 percent in basements. Improve outside grading and drainage by keeping gutters clean and soil always sloping away from your home. Cover dirt crawlspace floors with plastic to reduce moisture.

Store Safely

Keep all storage at least several inches up off concrete floors and away from foundations where dampness can easily seep in. This is especially important with organic material like cardboard boxes. Avoid using wooden shelves; metal or plastic shelves are preferable.

Heat Finished Basements

Below grade spaces like finished basements are more likely to become infested and should always be heated to at least 60 degrees, even when not being used. The warmer the space, the less the chance that condensation will form and feed a mold problem.

Build Mold Resistant

When choosing building materials, use materials that don’t feed the mold. Tom Combs took this option when remodeling the bathroom in his family’s 1990 lake house outside of Atlanta, Georgia. “The ceiling was covered with mold and I wanted to take immediate action before the situation worsened.” Combs’ solution was Dens Armor Plus, a wallboard made by Georgia Pacific that is specifically designed to create a mold-free space. Unlike regular drywall that has a paper face, Dens Armor Plus has a fiberglass face that cannot feed a mold problem. For roofing specifically, make sure to consider algae, mold and bacteria resistant shingles when installing a new roof. Metal infused in these shingles will kill off the bacteria that causes algae and mold growth naturally without the need for chemicals.

Ventilate Vigorously

Poor or missing ventilation fans in damp spaces like baths and kitchens can leave enough moisture behind to sustain a mold problem. Make sure all baths and kitchens are vented by properly sized fans that take moisture outside and NOT into attics. Keep the bathroom door open after bathing to speed the drying of surfaces.

Avoid Basement Carpets

More than almost any other material in a house, carpets can be incredibly effective havens for mold. Even non-organic carpets can collect dirt, dust, and moisture that combine to provide mold a fertile ground in which to grow, especially in below-grade spaces where relative humidity tends to be higher. Hard surface products like laminate flooring or engineered hardwoods are always a better choice for basement and other mold-free spaces.

Filter the Air

If your home has a forced-air heating and cooling system, using a top quality air filter is a must. May recommends pleated filters with a MERV rating of at least six to eight, or 11 if the family is prone to allergies. Another option is a whole house electronic air cleaner. Mounted permanently to the home’s HVAC system, a whole house air cleaner uses ionization technology to charge particles making them stick to filters like a magnet. According to Consumer Reports, the most effective unit is the Aprilaire Model 5000, which can trap virus-sized particles as small as one micron (one millionth of a meter) and needs just yearly filter replacement.

Insulate Ducts

Duct systems that carry heated or cooled air throughout your house must be insulated whenever they pass through unheated or uncooled spaces like attics or basements. If not, condensation can form inside the ducts and, when combined with dust in the air, can allow mold to grow in the ducts, and then spores can easily circulate throughout your entire house.

Clean Carefully

Use mold-inhibiting cleaners in bathrooms and kitchens. Portable air conditioning units should be taken apart and cleaned at the start of every season. When painting damp spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, use paint with a mold inhibitor EPA-approved for indoor use.

Fix Floods Fast

If you do have a major leak or flood, quick action can stop mold before it starts. Thoroughly dry soaked carpets and padding, and remove any wet upholstery. Then wash and disinfect all surfaces before the carpet and pad are replaced.

Mold may be a part of Mother Nature’s plans, but following these tips will make sure recovering from the sickness it can cause doesn’t ever have to become part of your plans. For more information, visit the Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or review the Mold Resource Guide on the Web site for the national radio show, ‘The Money Pit.’

What Pests Are in Your Region

AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

Homeowners, What Pests Are in Your Region?

3 minute read

You do your best to make your home a comfortable, inviting place that friends and family love to be in. But there are certainly some guests you don’t want to welcome into your home environment.

Pests like termites, insects, and other creepy crawlers will make themselves at home in warm, damp areas. These unwelcome guests find their way into basements, attics, crawl spaces, and garages, and can do real damage to the structural integrity and safety of your home.

What pests should you look out for? That can depend on what region of the country you live in and the type of home you have.

Let’s take a look at the most common house pests by region:

Continental United States – Ants

The U.S. is home to nearly 1,000 species of ants, ranging in size, color, and tendencies. Most ants stay outdoors all year long, but a few varieties find their way indoors all over the country in the warmer months.

Ants seek out water and food, which is why you’ll typically see them in your bathroom, kitchen, or basement. They often find water that comes from leaky pipes, backed-up drains, and areas of intense humidity.

To prevent ant infestations, you should close up any gaps in siding and windows, fix leaking pipes and sitting water, and clean up food in the kitchen. They’ll go after pet food as well, so try to avoid leaving out cat or dog food when possible.

Northwest – Spiders

While ants are common in houses during the summertime, it’s the colder weather that brings spiders indoors in the Northwest U.S.

Nearly all species of spider are harmless to humans. They can even be beneficial in your home, preying on other pests like flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and moths.

Even knowing the potential benefits, it’s understandable if you’d prefer to not have spiders roaming the walls of your home. To remove them, try to capture them in a jar or other container and release them outdoors where they can continue their pest control on the exterior of your home.

There are several strategies you can try to keep spiders out, especially in high-traffic areas like your bedroom or living room. Again, closing up obvious gaps in your home’s siding and windows, and removing any standing water will be helpful.

Midwest and South – Mosquitoes

The heat and humidity of summer are perfect for mosquitoes. And unlike other pests on this list, mosquitoes can be harmful to humans when they’re carrying illnesses like the Zika virus and malaria.

Mosquitoes are hard to avoid when you’re outdoors in humid areas, but keeping them out of the house can be accomplished with a few simple changes.

If you have any open windows for ventilation or for air conditioner units, repair or replace broken window screens and make sure there’s a tight seal.

Mosquitoes love dark, damp places, so check for leaky pipes under sinks and in your basement and laundry room. Big picture, make sure to prioritize humidity control throughout your home to avoid mosquito infestations.

Aprilaire whole-home dehumidifiers offer a comprehensive way to manage humidity all year long.

Northeast – Rodents

Northeastern states can experience extreme winter weather, forcing people to hunker down in the warmth and security of their homes.

Pests like mice and rats will also seek out warmer areas in the winter months, and they’ll often find them in basements and garages. It’s not uncommon to find nests filled with food that the rodents have stored up to last through the winter.

Like prevention strategies for other pests, you’ll want to seal up any gaps in your siding, insulation, and foundation. Additionally, check for any water leaks and make sure your garbage and food scraps are always securely stored.

Hawaii – Cockroaches

The year-round warm weather of Hawaii makes it a dreamy vacation spot. But that tropical climate is also perfect for cockroaches.

There are four species of cockroach that infiltrate homes in Hawaii, often in search of food and water.

Since most homes in tropical areas aren’t built to be air-tight, it can be difficult to seal up all entry points. The main tactic you can use is to remove food and water sources, and consider extermination if the problem becomes persistent and overwhelming.

home project

Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | Healthy Home |

How Home Improvement Leads to Self-Improvement

4 minute read

Click play to listen to the How Home Improvement Leads to Self-Improvement article.

As life gets busy and messy, so can your home. And living in a space with much-needed renovations and overdue cleaning tasks can cause anxiety and frustration that boil over into other aspects of your life.

Since September is known by some as “Self-Improvement Month,” we think it’s the perfect time to look at simple ways to simultaneously improve your life and your home.

Check out our list below for home renovation and reorganization projects that can help you get back on track.

Home Project Ideas

Make a Habit Out of Budgeting

Some of the home projects on your dream list will require real budgeting of time and money. If you don’t normally make budgets that let you shop and save with confidence, taking on new home renovations can be the perfect time to start.

Begin with a simple cost estimator, and compare that with an overview of your current savings and credit options. That will give you an idea of what you can afford, and how long it will take to pay off. You can also extend this practice into planning vacations and major purchases like vehicles.

Spending within your limits, paying off debts, and reaching your savings goals can take away large sources of anxiety and give you a sense of freedom in the way you live your life.

Less Closet Clutter for Reduced Stress

Too many clothes (some you never wear), not enough hangers or drawers, and a pile of shoes flowing out the door you can no longer close.

A messy closet is one of the most anxiety-inducing sights in the home. And while it may seem like an overwhelming task, it’s totally worth it.

First off, you’ll likely need to get rid of some things. Consider selling or donating clothes you no longer wear, and relocate any items that would be better off in a front closet, basement, or garage.

Depending on the size of your closet, you can optimize the space with hanging rods and dressers, making sure to use as much vertical space as possible. Another stress-reducer is adding labels or dividers that will help you navigate your things quickly on busy mornings.

Breathe Easy with Aprilaire Healthy Air Solutions

Deep breathing is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety. And one way to make it even healthier for you is to ensure the air you’re breathing is fresh and purified.

Simple fixes like turning on the kitchen exhaust fan whenever you’re cooking, and opening up windows to promote ventilation can make a difference. Another solution is installing Aprilaire whole-home equipment to automatically handle fresh air ventilation, air filtration, and humidity control throughout your living space.

A Kitchen You’ll Love to Cook In

Summer is a great time to grill outside and enjoy seasonal favorites at restaurants and cafes. But as you move into fall, you may be looking to cook at home more often to both save money and have a better idea of what’s going into your food.

Creating a well-stocked and organized kitchen can make it simpler to cook fast, healthy meals a few days a week, and give you enough space to meal prep large quantities for a whole week’s worth of food. Try upgrades like new cabinets, countertop organization, and a more efficient refrigerator/freezer where you can store your prepped meals.

Plant a Garden for Nourishment

This project can nourish your belly and your mind. Tending a garden and seeing it change over time will help you relax and unwind after a long day at work. And when it’s time to harvest, you’ll be able to enjoy homegrown, seasonal produce without relying on as many trips to the grocery store.

To start, you’ll want to identify the plants most likely to thrive in your region, and then choose a space around your yard that would work best for this type of project.

A Comfortable Home Office for Maximum Focus

Working from home is convenient for a lot of reasons, but it can also make it difficult to separate “work time” from “home time.”

One way around this issue is to create a dedicated workspace that has all the amenities you need to focus and efficiently complete your work before returning to family and home time.

Look around for inspiration, and get an idea of the look and feel you want: minimalist and distraction-free, or more offbeat and creative.

Paint color and wall art are important, but you’ll really want to make sure you’ve found a comfortable chair and ergonomic desk setup to ensure maximum focus.

Home Spa Upgrades for Relaxation

While you might not be able to afford weekly trips to the spa, you can find time to relax every day by reinventing your bathroom at home.

Small touches can make a big difference. Try scented soaps and bubble baths, plush towels, and warmer lighting.

You can also make larger, yet affordable changes like installing a new and improved shower head or painting with colors that create a feeling of zen.

A Guest Bedroom Visitors Will Love

Building community and prioritizing personal interactions can go a long way toward making you happier throughout the year.

Instead of relying on expensive, difficult-to-schedule vacations to meet up with friends and family, you can create an awesome guest room in your home that will make it easy to host.

Start with a comfortable bed and things like a reading light and a place to set up a suitcase. Then you can move on to larger tasks like making it quieter or changing the lighting.

Improving the space will give you the confidence to invite people to stay, and will provide a comfortable spot that your loved ones will enjoy year after year.

Break a Sweat for Nicer Landscaping

Do you like what you see when you pull into your driveway or walk up to your home every day?

If your exterior could use some work, it’s also a great opportunity to get active and improve your physical fitness.

Regular maintenance like weeding and watering can help you break a sweat a few times a week. And when you take on larger tasks like new landscaping or a stone pathway, you can count those days as intense workouts.

In addition to offering exercise, these outdoor improvements can greatly increase the value of your property and give you pride in calling that address home.


American Lung Association

Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | News |

Breathing Healthy Air: Interview with the American Lung Association

4 minute read

At Aprilaire, we encourage breathing Healthy Air because we know it benefits your overall health. The American Lung Association knows it too. That’s why Aprilaire air filters are the National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association*, playing a key role in the fight to improve lung health and prevent lung disease.

We got to interview National Senior Vice President of Development Sally Draper about the importance of Healthy Air and how both Aprilaire and the American Lung Association are working together to help you Breathe the Fullness of Life.

Could you introduce yourself for the readers and tell us about why you chose a career with the American Lung Association?

“I joined the Lung Association in 2014 because I was attracted to its comprehensive mission—to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Every day we help Americans breathe easier through our efforts to fund innovative research, advocate for policies that protect our lungs, and educate patients, caregivers, providers, and the public with science-backed information. We were founded more than 115 years ago, and the needs are greater today than ever before, including the youth vaping epidemic, climate change, and COVID-19!”

Can you tell us about the American Lung Association’s mission?

“The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; champion clean air for all; improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and create a tobacco-free future. Whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or advocating for laws that protect the air we breathe, the work of the American Lung Association helps to save lives every day.”

How did Aprilaire and the American Lung Association come to work together in the first place? What does that relationship look like presently?

“Aprilaire and the American Lung Association forged a new relationship in 2018. We quickly realized how much we had in common. Our partnership was developed as we saw an opportunity to educate and help more consumers improve the air in their homes to create a healthier environment.

Since 2020, Aprilaire has been a Proud Partner of the Lung Association with its 4” residential air filters. Additionally, Aprilaire joined the Lung Association as our FY20 National Fight For Air Climb Partner For Healthy Air. The company has also supported the Lung Association’s “Stand Up For Clean Air” campaign. As part of this initiative, we are driving conversations around air quality, climate, and health. The Lung Association invited people to share their #MyCleanAirStory—knowing that when people realize climate and air quality are impacting the health of their neighbors, friends, and loved ones—they are more willing to act. Aprilaire provided prizes for the #MyCleanAirStory contest, including one grand prize of a whole-home Indoor Air Quality upgrade (the Aprilaire Healthy Air System™) and nine Aprilaire Room Air Purifiers. This year, the company stepped up once again to sponsor the Wisconsin Fight For Air Climb in Milwaukee. Also in 2021, the Lung Association welcomed Dale Philippi, President and CEO of Research Products Corporation, Aprilaire’s parent company, to the Lung Association’s Wisconsin Leadership Board of Directors.”

Tell us about the Fight For Air Climb.

“The American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb is the nation’s premier stair climbing challenge. At 38 events nationwide, children and adults of all ages participate in this celebratory stair-climbing adventure. Pre-pandemic, the Fight For Air Climb was held in several of our country’s most iconic skyscrapers. This year, the Lung Association invited participants outdoors for a one-of-a-kind adventure to support healthy lungs and clean air. In fact, Dale was among the company’s team of more than 50 employees that climbed the stairs at Milwaukee’s American Family Field on May 22nd, proving he puts his feet, time, and talent behind causes he supports.

Aprilaire has been a stalwart partner in the Fight For Air Climb, promoting the event to employees, customers, trade partners, family, and friends. Through this unique vehicle, the company is engaging individuals of all ages to understand and celebrate the importance of Healthy Air.”

Aprilaire’s air filters are a National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association. How do you feel our mission aligns with yours?

“Our CEO, Harold Wimmer, has said, ‘Breathing should not be an uphill battle, but for many it is… no one should have to fight for air on a daily basis.’ Similarly, Dale has declared, ‘We believe everyone deserves to breathe Healthy Air.’ As a National Proud Partner, Aprilaire’s mission to enhance everyone’s health by improving the air in their homes aligns very closely with that of the American Lung Association, champion of clean air for all.”

What are the benefits of breathing Healthy Air and what are everyday things that people can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life?

“Clean air is essential for healthy lungs. The American Lung Association works to ensure that the air we breathe is clean and safe from harmful pollution. In fact, every year we publish our State of the Air Report, which looks at two of the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants, ozone and fine particulate matter. Our 2021 State of the Air Report found that more than 4 in 10 Americans—over 135 million people—are living in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

One of the most important things you can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life is to keep sources of pollution out of your home. Check out these commonsense tips on Additionally, ventilation helps reduce indoor air pollution, but it works best if paired with keeping known sources of air pollution out of the building. For tips on how to use ventilation to protect your lung health, check out our section on Ventilation: How Buildings Breathe.”

Fight for Healthy Air

At Aprilaire, we believe everyone deserves to Breathe the Fullness of Life, and we’re not the only ones that feel this way. Through our Proud Partnership with the American Lung Association, we aim to fill every home with Healthy Air. Both Aprilaire and the Lung Association believe that breathing Healthy Air should be available to everyone, and maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality is an important step for your lung health. Read more about our partnership and the efforts of the American Lung Association on their website.

*Disclaimer: The American Lung Association does not endorse any product, device, or service.

St. Vincent de Paul

AA Homepage Articles | News |

2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

2 minute read

Click the play button to listen to the post

We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.


AA Homepage Articles | News |

Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

2 minute read

Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer