a hand opening a window for ventilation in the room

Proper home ventilation can reduce the airborne particles that enter your home. These particles include viruses that can make you and your family sick.

Adding fresh air and other precautions may reduce the likelihood of getting sick. 

Keep reading to learn ways to remove airborne virus particles through home ventilation.

Does Proper Home Ventilation Prevent You From Getting Sick?

Ventilating a home can prevent you from getting sick when done correctly. It will refresh the spaces and reduce the possibility of contracting viruses and other sicknesses. Using exhaust and ventilation fans in your home can decrease the number of virus particles and help you avoid illness. 

Home ventilation in conjunction with other preventive measures will help decrease the spread of sickness. For example, adding more fresh air to your home and purifying the indoor air will reduce the possibility of contracting Covid, the flu, and other viruses. 

Ways To Improve Home Ventilation and Reduce Airborne Particles 

Improving natural ventilation in your home can be an effective way to combat the virus particles that enter with you and your visitors. 

Combined with practices like handwashing, home ventilation applications will remove some airborne virus particles by replacing them with clean outdoor air.

Filter the Indoor Air of Your Home

There are several ways to use central air conditioning and heating systems for home ventilation improvement. When you put these recommendations in place, your HVAC system will work to purify the indoor air and remove airborne particles.

  • Run the fan continuously – the fan will run automatically when the air conditioning or heating is operating. However, you can choose the setting for the fan to run all the time, which will be a home ventilation aid. 
  • Check the filter to ensure it is clean – a dirty filter will clog the HVAC system, reducing the number of virus particles it can filter. 
  • Replace the air filters in your home every month. A monthly replacement will eliminate more particles from the air, improving indoor air quality. 
A homeowner replaces the Filtrete Air Filter MPR 1500 in her home's energy-efficient furnace

Using Natural Ventilation for Indoor Air 

Another way to increase home ventilation is to use natural ventilation methods. They will work exceptionally well in areas that have distinct seasons and temperature changes and also work well in windy areas.

  • Use screen doors and open windows to improve cross-ventilation in your home – opening the highest window in the house and the screen doors will produce the best cross-draft. 
  • Add fans to the open windows for better ventilation – fans can be set to draw air out of the house or pull air in. Both are effective at improving home ventilation. 
  • Create a cross-draft of fresh outdoor air by placing a fan in one window of a room – place another fan in a window opposite the fan. When you set both fans in the same direction, the fresh air will make its way through the room and out the other side. 

Consider Using an Air Purifier or Whole House Ventilation Fan

Using an air purifier will help remove Covid, flu, and other airborne viruses from your home’s indoor air.

An advantage of an air purifier is that you can move it from room to room, depending on where you need it most. In addition, a purifier can be beneficial when cross-ventilation is not feasible in cold winter weather. 

An air purifier uses a high-efficiency filter to remove harmful air particles. They work equally well running at high or low speeds. Be sure to purchase a size appropriate for the room where you will use it most, as a purifier that is too small won’t clean the air thoroughly. 

In the cooler months, you can use a whole-home ventilation fan. This fan installs on the ceiling of the highest floor in the house to vent out of the roof. When you open windows and turn on the fan, it pulls the air through the home and out of the roof. 

A circulating ceiling fan

How Ventilation Helps With COVID-19, Flu, and Other Viruses

Cross-ventilation helps reduce airborne viruses. The fresh air will move the impure air out of the house and replace it with clean air. 

Combining this with other safeguards protects you from contagious viruses that transmit through the air. The CDC says that the more people in a particular house, the higher the need for sufficient home ventilation for protection from sickness. 

Harvard scientists found that when you open the windows of a room just five inches (13 cm), the space will experience measurable air changes per hour, meaning the new air is entering the room at a regular rate. 

Best Ventilation Practices for COVID-19

Learning how coronavirus spreads will help you recognize the benefits of proper home ventilation. Maximizing the practices that aid the prevention of Covid and airing out your house will protect you from unintentional exposure. 

Here are a few things to know when trying to understand how Covid-19 spreads: 

  • When you are outdoors, viral particles spread through the wind. So part of the reason it is harder to contract Covid after spending time outside is the particles disperse quickly through the air. 
  • When you are indoors, the viral particles build up because there is nowhere for them to go. There is no unlimited air inside your home, so the particles must stay in the available air. 
  • Ensuring your indoor air is as much like outdoor air will help. This measure is where ventilation helps to disperse the indoor air particles and flood them with fresh air particles. 
  • Continue to ventilate your home for two hours after guests leave to minimize the possibility of virus particles remaining in the air. Then, you can run the fan on your HVAC system or open the windows and doors for cross-home ventilation.
An oscillating plug-in fan on a table in a living room with couch and wall in the background

Here are some additional recommended practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19:

  • Place a room fan in the window of the sickroom. Set the path to pull the air from the room to send it outside. 
  • Turn on exhaust fans in the bathroom to pull the viral particles out of the room.
  • Raise the room’s humidity level to a minimum of forty percent. Covid-19 flourishes in dry air. 
  • Place a high-efficiency particulate air filter in a portable air cleaner in the room. 

Any virus particles – particularly Covid – will remain suspended in the air for hours. This is also true for the common cold, influenza, ear and sinus infections, and recurring allergies. The more you can dilute the indoor air with fresh air, the lower your chances of contracting the virus. 

When the windows are open for ventilation, you can also turn on the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to remove more air particles from the rooms. Again, circulating the air will provide the cleanest air. 

How COVID-19 and the Flu Spread: the Three Cs

All viruses spread primarily through human contact, but the flu and Covid are transmissible in other ways. 

The Three Cs, crowded places, closed spaces, and close-contact settings, are the primary environments where you can contract a viral illness. While it’s possible to acquire viruses in various circumstances, these three settings significantly increase the likelihood of spreading diseases.

One of these transmission methods involves enclosed spaces with little fresh outside air entering the area. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the air of an enclosed space, such as a home, holds virus particles longer unless outside air dilutes the concentration. 

The home ventilation techniques mentioned above will replace the infected air with new, cleaner air. Running the fan of your air conditioning or heating system will also reduce the number of particles in your home’s air. 

Change Your HVAC Filters to MERV 13 

A homeowner replaces the filter of his energy-efficient furnace

You might be familiar with HEPA filters, which are high-efficiency particulate air purifiers. 

The flu, Covid, and other airborne viruses are floating in the air we breathe. However, indoor air poses the most significant risk of infection. Many officials recommend using HEPA filters as a mitigation strategy, as they offer almost 99% air particle filtering. 

However, installing a MERV 13 (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) filter in the HVAC system can also work well. Statistics show a MERV 13 air filter will trap almost 90% of the particles

The particles a MERV 13 filter will remove from the indoor air include:

  • Bacteria
  • Virus particles
  • Pet dander
  • Smoke
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Exhaust fumes
  • Dust
  • Microscopic allergens

People who suffer from illnesses and chronic conditions like the following will benefit from installing a high-efficiency filter:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Weakened immune system
  • Respiratory issues
  • Lung disease
  • COPD


Ventilating your home will help prevent illness, especially in winter. Studies show home ventilation practices are a practical, effective way to refresh the air in your home. 

Using the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen will remove the impurities from the air, while ventilation fans will introduce fresh outdoor air into your home.

Natural cross-ventilation methods like opening windows and doors improve the air quality inside your home. Another effective way to remove Covid and other virus particles is to replace the filters in your HVAC system with high-efficiency HEPA filters. 


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