A Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality
It used to be that our technicians worked mostly with heating and air conditioning systems. After all, Hoff Heating & AC is the company O’Fallon residents can trust to keep their homes at the right temperature. However, our expertise has expanded beyond the reading on your thermostat. Our experienced technicians also work with equipment that will improve the quality of your air.
Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality
People often take the air they breathe for granted. They assume that if there is no visible pollution, it must be clean. Think about what you see when a sunbeam shines through a window. Particles of dust float lazily in the light. If it is in your air, you and your family members are inhaling it with each breath.
Your body does a decent job of filtering out some impurities. But smaller impurities make it through your natural defenses. When your home has poor air quality, you will see a variety of symptoms. People who are prone to allergies may develop a runny nose and cough. Irritants in the air can trigger asthma attacks in people with this condition. Chemicals floating in your air supply can cause headaches, poor sleep and an overall sense of feeling unwell. If these symptoms go away when you stay in another location, you should examine the quality of your indoor air.
Common IAQ Irritants
The most common indoor air quality irritants are the ones you can see when you sweep or dust. These visible impurities include things like dander, fibers, and pollen grains. At a slightly smaller level, you will find mold spores and dust mite droppings. Any of these substances can cause an allergic reaction in someone who’s sensitive.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Our modern lifestyle releases all sorts of chemicals into the air. If someone cooks with oil, small droplets get airborne in the kitchen. Cleaning and beauty products release chemicals in the bathroom. Garages and basements often have collections of paints, adhesives, and lubricants that slowly release fumes. If someone in your home is a smoker, they release hundreds of chemicals into the air with every puff.
If there is not adequate ventilation in the home, the level of VOCs in the atmosphere will rise. High levels of these chemicals can cause uncomfortable side effects.
Bacteria and viruses are a part of life on earth. These organisms are so small that they can float in the air on water droplets. This ability is one reason that if one person in the home gets the flu, the whole house is vulnerable.
Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
Bringing fresh air into a home is a key part of improving air quality. Older homes do this naturally. The techniques and materials used in their construction often create gaps and drafts that allow air to flow.
Modern buildings were put together using better techniques and tighter materials. Although they are not airtight, the exchange of indoor and outdoor air is much slower. This is good news for heating and cooling systems. When warm air stays in the home longer, the furnace does not have to work as hard. This efficiency will lower your heating bills and lengthen the lifespan of your equipment.
It is not good news for indoor air quality. At Hoff Heating & AC, we install many different home ventilation products that exchange indoor and outdoor air while it flows through your ductwork. Heat Recovery Ventilators do this work while transferring heat to the incoming air. You get fresh air without losing efficiency. Energy Recovery Ventilators do a similar job while also preserving the humidity of the indoor air.
The Importance of Humidity for Home Comfort
The amount of moisture in the air is another indoor air quality concern. High humidity has several bad side effects. Mold and dust mites thrive when there is a high level of moisture. Mold and mildew can ruin items such as clothing and books. Large colonies of mold not only look and smell disgusting, but they can also be a health hazard.
In the winter months, humidity levels tend to drop. Lower humidity also has some uncomfortable effects. You may experience dry, itchy skin. It is not unusual to wake up with a scratchy throat after sleeping in dry air. Low moisture can also damage items made of wood causing them to crack and splinter.
Many families use room humidifiers and dehumidifiers to control moisture levels at different times of the year. Our team can install whole-house humidifiers and dehumidifiers that can keep the moisture level constant.
Do-It-Yourself IAQ Fixes
Our company offers several professional-grade IAQ solutions. They can make a big difference in the purity of your air. However, there are some actions you can take to improve your air quality right now.
The members of your home track in a good amount of the larger irritants in your air. As they come in from the outside, they bring in dirt and pollen. Encourage your family members and guests to remove their shoes as they enter your home.
During the allergy seasons, you can remove pollen grains with regular household cleaning. Dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming removes these irritants before they get into the air. A robotic vacuum that cleans your home automatically every day can save you from some of the labor.
Many household chemicals include warnings that they should be used in a well-ventilated area. Make sure that people run ventilating fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to pull chemicals out of the house. Only use paints and adhesives in rooms with open windows.
Remove VOC Sources
Properly disposing of VOC sources such as old paint or oil-based products will improve your air quality. Check with your town to learn where you can bring these hazardous items. If anyone smokes in your home, ask them to do so outside.
Professional IAQ Solutions
If you are serious about getting a handle on your indoor air quality, Hoff Heating & AC has the professional solutions that can help. Consider the following options.
The basic air filter on your HVAC system is intended to prevent larger particles from getting inside your equipment. Our technicians can install more powerful filters that will remove smaller dust particles. We even carry HEPA-level filtration systems that remove particles down to 0.3 microns.
An air purification system includes strong filtration plus some extra treatment. These systems are designed to trap and break down VOCs using a chemical catalyst. You can remove both chemicals and unpleasant odors from your air supply.
Adding germicidal lights to your HVAC system will reduce the population of mold and bacteria in your home. This sterilizing technology sits in your ductwork eliminating nasty microorganisms.
Your Complete Home Comfort Partner
Hoff Heating & AC is the crew you can trust for all your home climate needs. In addition to indoor air quality solutions, we specialize in heating and cooling services. We also work with geothermal systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can keep you comfortable throughout the year. We look forward to serving all your indoor climate comfort needs.