How To Improve Air Quality in Old House?

Old houses often have a timeless esthetic appeal that is difficult to replicate in modern homes. One of the drawbacks to living in an old house is that it can sometimes have poor air quality. So, how can you improve the air quality in an old house? 

You can improve the air quality in an old house by opening windows, checking for pollutants and using air purifiers. You can also control the humidity, use indoor plants, clean and vacuum regularly and use a good HVAC system and exhaust fan. Not smoking inside also helps. 

In this article, I will explain different methods to improve the air quality in your home, even if it’s old. 

Open the Windows

Stale air is one of the main culprits to poor air quality in an old house. HVAC systems do an excellent job of helping to recycle stale air throughout the year but, if this doesn’t help, you could consider opening a few windows. 

This allows fresh air to flow into your home, improving the way the interior smells and feels. 

Unfortunately, this is only an effective method to use when the weather is pleasant. Opening the window when it’s too hot or cold outside can make it feel uncomfortable inside. However, this is a cheap and easy way to improve the air quality. 

Check out my article on opening windows to learn more about this method’s effectiveness. 

Read: 3 Ways How To Improve Air Quality In The Basement?

Check the House for Pollutants

Research has proven that the air pollutants inside your home can be more dangerous than the ones inhaled outside. Of course, the first step is determining which ones are present. 

Some of the pollutants you need to be careful about, particularly in old houses, include the following: 

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a dangerous gas that can lead to death when you are exposed to it in large quantities. This gas is odorless and colorless, making it even more dangerous. 

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This gas is a by-product from burning wood, charcoal, or any other item. If you have a furnace in your home, you need to watch out for this gas but, thankfully, carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive, widely available, and easy to install. 

Read: Why Is Indoor Air Quality Important?


Radon is another gas with the same colorless and odorless properties as carbon monoxide. However, it can be even more dangerous. In a report from the Environmental Protection Agency, this gas was shown to cause more than 20,000 deaths through lung cancer. 

Radon is a result of broken-down uranium found in rock, soil, and water, and it can easily seep into older houses, which are more likely to be poorly-insulated. 

As with carbon monoxide, you can purchase a radon detector to make sure that you don’t inadvertently breathe it in. 

Chemicals From Cleaning Products

Some products we use randomly in our homes can be dangerous, but we hardly give them a second thought. Good examples include: 

  • Cleaning detergents
  • Air fresheners
  • Furniture glue

These products can release harmful chemicals known as volatile organic chemicals into the air, affecting air quality. 

Read: What Affects Indoor Air Quality?

Use Air Purifiers

Most particles that affect your air quality are invisible, and are difficult to detect. However, you can improve your home’s air quality with an air purifier.  

Air purifiers work by neutralizing harmful chemicals and organic compounds in the air but not all air purifiers are created equal. 

It is better to buy air purifiers that use HEPA filters for more efficient purification. HEPA is an acronym for high-efficiency particulate absorbing, which means they absorb more particles. 

According to a report published on ScienceDirect, these filters remove many pollutants from the air, improving the quality. I recommend using the Levoit Air Purifier (available on as it draws more than 99% of all contaminants from the air. 

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Read: Should An HVAC Zone Damper Bleed Air?

Control the Humidity Level

If the air in your home is always very humid, the air quality is likely to be poor. Unfortunately, this can be exacerbated by showering, boiling food, and using water to clean floors. 

Humid air can increase the prevalence of airborne germs and dust mites in the air, making it bad for asthma or allergy sufferers.

Luckily, you can solve this issue by investing in a dehumidifier, which will remove the excess humidity from the air and help improve the air quality. 

Use Indoor Plants

Most people use indoor plants due to their esthetic value. However, if you struggle with poor air quality in your house, they have an added benefit. 

Research has revealed that in addition to removing the carbon dioxide (a by-product of human respiration) in the air and improving the oxygen levels, indoor plants can remove pollutants. 

That being said, indoor plants do not remove as many contaminants as improving the ventilation.  

Clean and Vacuum the House Regularly

One of the factors affecting a home’s air quality is how dirty and dusty it is. The dirtier and more dusty a home is, the more likely it is to develop a musty smell, a sign that the air quality is bad. 

Thankfully, you can mitigate this by cleaning, dusting, and vacuuming your home regularly. You should do this at least weekly and consider using a cleaning service if this isn’t possible. 

Spring cleaning your home every quarter can also help to keep the air quality in check. 

Read: How To Keep House Air Clean?

Install an Exhaust Fan

If your bathrooms and kitchen do not have an exhaust fan, consider installing them as this can help improve the air quality in these rooms. 

Exhaust fans can remove smoke, food smells, and pollutants from the air after cooking, and help improve the air quality. Bathroom exhaust fans are highly effective at removing steam and excess humidity after showering. 

Installing an exhaust fan can be tricky, and you may need to call a professional. However, this doesn’t stop you from buying it. Ventisol Exhaust Fan (available on is a great exhaust fan option. It has many good reviews and has helped previous customers improve the air quality and humidity in their homes. 

Use a More Efficient HVAC System

If you live in an old home, the HVAC system might be several decades old, which can affect the air quality. 

A good way to check is to have it evaluated by an HVAC professional. After this, replace any worn-out parts and make any necessary repairs to help it work more efficiently. Although it’s costly, sometimes installing a new HVAC system is the best option. 

Aside from conducting regular maintenance on your home’s HVAC system, make sure that you change the filters regularly as dirty filters can negatively affect the air quality. 

Don’t Smoke or Vape Inside 

Smoking and vaping inside can decrease your home’s air quality, and the same goes for hubbly bubbly (or hookah) devices, and pipes. For the sake of air quality, make it a rule to smoke or vape outside only. It may be uncomfortable during the winter, but the effort will be worth it. 


Many old houses have poor air quality but, thankfully, this is easy to remedy if you follow the tips mentioned in this article: 

  • Open the windows 
  • Check your home for pollutants
  • Use air high-quality purifiers 
  • Control the humidity level
  • Use indoor plants
  • Clean and vacuum regularly
  • Install an efficient exhaust fan and HVAC system
  • Don’t smoke or vape inside