5 Steps to Better Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality is often to blame for a runny nose, itchy eyes, or asthma attacks. Indoor air pollutants come from many sources. Dust, pet dander and fur, pollen, mold spores, volatile organic compounds, and excess humidity are common types of indoor pollutants. Most homes don’t have all of these pollutants at once, but one or more of them could bother you or even threaten your health. No one is helpless in the face of these irritants. You can take steps to identify and correct your problems. A little vigilance and the right equipment can substantially improve your indoor air quality.
Change Furnace Filters Regularly
People with forced-air heat have filters between a furnace and its intake for circulating air. A furnace filter is an easy thing to forget because it’s out of sight and out of mind.
The furnace filter grabs dust, pollen, and other debris circulating through your ducts. This helps to eliminate the dust that constantly infiltrates any home. The filter also serves to protect your heating system by preventing a troublesome buildup of dirt that will interfere with heating equipment operation.
When filters go unchanged, air ceases to move easily through the system. Your furnace blower will experience strain as it works harder to move air. You can easily change a furnace filter yourself. If it’s dirty, installing a clean filter will help indoor air quality and reduce strain on your furnace.
A furnace inspection by Hoff Heating & AC in O’Fallon, MO, offers you another good way to evaluate your indoor air quality. While performing a tune-up, we’ll do a safety check. This will confirm that exhaust fumes are venting outside properly. Any internal leakage of fumes, like deadly carbon monoxide, can be corrected following the inspection.
Use an Air Purifier
You’ll find many products on the market for purifying the air in your home. These can relieve irritation from pet dander, smoking, chemical fumes, and pollen.
A common type of air purifier uses a HEPA filter. Such a filter has the capability of trapping 99.97% of particles larger than 0.3 microns.
You may also consider purifiers with activated carbon filters. Chemical fumes, tobacco smoke, and odor-causing molecules adhere easily to the surfaces within the carbon filter.
Negative ion air purifiers absorb particles from the air by attracting them with negatively charged molecules. Positively charged particles stick to the negatively charged particles and drop from the air to nearby surfaces.
Some air purifiers include ultraviolet lights alongside filters. UV light kills some bacteria and viruses.
After buying an air purifier, you should place it in the room where you spend the most time. This is often a living room or bedroom.
Consider Duct Cleaning
Some dust in your ducts is normal and not necessarily a health problem. However, a thick layer of dirt inside ducts in areas of high humidity could invite mold growth. As mold spores settle in the moist and dirty environment, they might start growing. The result will be continual releases of irritating mold spores into your air.
You’ll need to contact a professional service to clean your ducts. Commercial duct cleaners have the equipment necessary to inspect ducts and reach through long and narrow spaces.
A home that has undergone major renovations may have excessively dirty ducts. Drywall dust and sawdust may have collected in the ducts during the work. A duct cleaning will be needed to remedy this abnormal situation. Too much dirt in ducts can clog a forced-air system and impede its function.
Too much humidity in your home can reduce indoor air quality. The main threat arises from mold growth. Mold and mildew in walls, floors, or air ducts can have many negative health effects, depending on the mold species that is growing.
Common signs that you are irritated by mold include:
- Running nose
- Skin rashes
- Watery eyes
Exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens remove excess moisture. In addition to fans, you may need a dehumidifier, especially in a basement.
If humidity is a persistent problem throughout your whole house, you may want to consider a whole-house humidity control system. A dehumidifier integrated with your heating and cooling system can maintain an optimal level of humidity. This not only reduces mold threats to your indoor air quality but also aids with the effectiveness of heating and cooling.
Your humidity level is likely a problem for you if you notice any of the following in your home:
- Musty odors
- Flaking paint
- Ceiling condensation and stains
- Damp areas
- Loose wallpaper
The addition of more fresh air can do wonders for your indoor air quality. Newer, high-efficiency furnaces typically use an air intake to supply fresh outdoor air to the combustion chamber. This eliminates the problem of using your interior oxygen to feed fuel combustion. Replacing an old furnace often helps your home’s air feel fresher through the winter.
For more comprehensive ventilation, you can explore mechanical systems that continually replace the air in your home. A ventilation system produces much greater results than occasionally opening your windows.
Ventilation systems will either draw stale indoor air outside or bring fresh outdoor air inside. An exhaust system works by depressurizing your home compared to the outside. It forces air out and relies on small gaps around doors and windows that allow new air to come inside.
A supply ventilation system works in the opposite manner. It pushes new air into the building. This forces old air out of the tiny gaps around doors and windows. Both systems may also be enhanced with the application of vents that let air in and out instead of just relying on minor gaps in a home’s exterior.
You could choose a more advanced system that goes beyond what an exhaust or supply system can do. This is a balanced ventilation system that uses two fans and two duct systems. One fan pushes out old air, and the other fan pulls in an equal portion of fresh air. The design of a balanced ventilation system may remove air from high-moisture rooms, like the kitchen and bath, and add fresh air to bedrooms and living rooms. This effectively balances the air in the home. The system can also employ filters to pull out dust and pollen. This feature will further improve indoor air quality.
Talk to a Home Comfort Professional
You’ll have a lot to think about when you want to upgrade the heating, cooling, and ventilation at your home. An expert from Hoff Heating & AC can evaluate moisture and indoor air quality concerns at your home and recommend products to correct them. As a Lennox Premier Dealer, we have access to some of the best equipment on the market. We’re a respected company providing heating and cooling repairs, maintenance, and installation. We service geothermal systems too. Contact us with any of your questions today.