Common Causes of Stale Air and How to Prevent It in Your Home

Stale air occurs in your home when you don’t have enough fresh air circulation. Too much stale air can make a room feel stuffy and increase the amount of airborne contaminants. At higher levels, stale air can cause fatigue, respiratory distress, headaches and skin irritation. Keep reading to learn more about what causes stale air and how you can get rid of it.

Causes of Stale Air

You may not realize how stuffy or uncomfortable your home is until you step outside. Breathing in stale air for too long can have a huge impact on the loved ones in your home. Identifying the causes behind your stale air as soon as possible can prevent long-term health problems and help you restore your indoor comfort.

Carbon Dioxide

Human beings breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2) with every exhale. During the winter, your household spends most of the day inside. This constant flow of CO2 makes the home feel stuffy and stale. Staying in a crowded room for several hours can make you feel dizzy, fatigued and unwell. You may have trouble standing or concentrating on the people around you. CO2 tends to build up faster in homes with little to no ventilation.


Dust and pollen worsen the stale air in your home. Indoor allergens are both a nuisance to take care of and a hazard to your health. Those with respiratory illnesses like pet allergies or asthma will struggle the most as the air quality worsens. Along with making the air uncomfortable, you’ll also notice more physical debris in the air and around the home.


Smoke damage is another cause of stale and unpleasant breathing air. The smoke from cooking, smoking, using your fireplace, and even burning candles can be absorbed by your furniture, rugs and curtains. This smoke can yellow or blacken your walls and ceilings, causing serious damage. These fumes also often leave chemicals behind in the air that are then inhaled by your family members. Being near constant smoke fumes is most dangerous to children, pets and the elderly.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the gaseous chemicals that are released by cleaners, cooking sprays, beauty products, paints and more. VOCs can leave sharp chemical odors in the air that irritate your eyes and skin. Without efficient ventilation, they can linger in your living spaces and impact your health. You may become more prone to headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and loss of coordination. Prolonged exposure can lead to organ and nervous system damage as well as cancer.

Mold and Mildew

An inconsistent humidity level can make your home perpetually musty and uncomfortable. Too much moisture will lead to wood rot, mold, mildew and pest infestations. Your HVAC system and ductwork will also be more susceptible to rust and corrosion. Many children and adults are sensitive to mold spores and dust mites. The thick, moist air will make it harder for you to fall asleep and feel adequately rested.

Preventing Stale Air

Stopping stale air in its tracks will protect your household’s quality of life this winter. While you may want to open a window when the weather permits, this can actually allow more contaminants into your home. Take action against stale air today by implementing these effective indoor air quality solutions.

Air Quality Assessment

The first step to tackling stale air is determining what contaminants are present in your home. An HVAC technician can test the air in different areas of the home, from your attic to the basement. They’ll determine whether you’re struggling with mold spores, dander, pet hair or harmful gases. The do-it-yourself testing kits available in home improvement stores aren’t as accurate as counting on a professional. They may not be able to identify the contaminants in your home or provide accurate readings.

Air Purification

After having your air quality tested, your technician may recommend installing an air purifier. Technicians often install these whole-home, energy-efficient systems near the entrance to your ductwork. They’re better than individual units at keeping all of your breathing air clean and free from particulates. They work as an added layer of air purification defense after your filters. Air purifiers are great at keeping your ductwork and HVAC system free of buildup.


Ventilation is another effective way to remove old air before it becomes stale and uncomfortable. Your family deserves a constant supply of clean and fresh air. Ventilators help you to control how often your air quality changes. They have the ability to remove harmful VOCs like smoke and chemicals. These systems can also moderate your indoor humidity level and minimize leftover smells from cooking, cleaning and smoking. You can even use some ventilation systems during the warmer months to lower your cooling costs.

Healthier Household Habits

Even with efficient ventilation, your household still needs to practice healthy air quality habits. Limit your use of chemical cleaners and other aerosol products. Only burn candles or incense in well-ventilated rooms. Use your kitchen or exhaust hood fan when cooking to minimize VOCs left behind. Regularly sweep, dust and vacuum to remove particulates and dander before they reach your HVAC system. Lowering how many contaminants are in the air will protect your family’s well-being and comfort all year long.

Improved Air Filters

Upgraded air filters can also do wonders for your home’s air quality. Rather than utilizing fiberglass filters that need replacing every month, consider choosing pleated or washable filters. These options can last longer before being switched out. Be sure to invest in a filter with a high Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. This rating details the overall effectiveness of your filter. Residential homes often use filters with MERV ratings between eight and 14. The higher your MERV rating, the better your filter will be at removing debris, dirt, pollen and other contaminants.

Dehumidifier Installation

Don’t forget to prevent musty air by investing in a dehumidifier. Small dehumidifying units work effectively in basements and bathrooms to remove excess moisture. If you struggle with house-wide moisture problems, a whole-home system is most efficient. This system will pull surplus airborne moisture from the air before it can settle in your ducts. The dryer air helps lessen the occurrence of dust mites, insect infestations and mold outbreaks.

Trusted Heating and Cooling Professionals

Davis & Green Services proudly delivers HVAC, plumbing and electrical services to families and businesses in Richmond, VA. We’ve provided a full suite of highly-rated services since we started in 1984. Our expert team strives to answer all of your questions in our efforts to provide incredible customer service. Trust us to repair or replace your furnace, boiler or air conditioner. We can also test your indoor air quality, check for pipe leaks and offer sewer services. Make us your first choice for smoke alarms, whole-home rewiring and carbon monoxide testing.

Contact Davis & Green Services today to schedule your next home comfort appointment in Richmond.

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