A lot of homeowners are surprised to learn that their indoor air quality (IAQ) isn’t nearly as good as they’d previously thought and certainly hoped. We think of our homes as havens, but in reality, the IAQ may be among the worst you encounter. The U.S. EPA has found air in homes can be many times more polluted than outdoor air, even in big cities where vehicle traffic reduces quality.
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All kinds of homes can have air quality problems, from brand new to well-maintained homes of any age. There are many contributors to poor air quality: cleaning products, building materials, candles, air fresheners, perfumes, car exhaust, and cooking appliances.
Other common air quality problems include dust mites, pollen, mold spores, tobacco smoke, and pet dander. Radon is another harmful gas that may be in your home’s air. In excess, humidity is also a contaminant that harms air quality. It fosters the growth of dust mites and mold and can make it more uncomfortable for some people to breathe.
Why Your Air Quality Matters
The average person inhales 2,900 gallons of air per day, according to ShareCare.com. When pollutants and irritants fill the air, your health could suffer short or long-term consequences. Complete Heating and Cooling is here to help you improve your home’s air quality by avoiding pollutants and reducing the harm of unavoidable contaminants.
What Works for IAQ
The products that improve IAQ are air cleaners and air purifiers. Which works best for you depends on how you need to improve air quality.
Air cleaners come in all kinds of sizes, from small, portable units to whole-house systems that attach to central forced-air HVAC systems. If you have family members that have persistent allergies or asthma attacks, a whole-house system will provide the best results to improve air quality. These devices remove airborne particulates like dust, mold spores, pet dander, and pollen.
They pull air through a sophisticated filter that traps particles, some of which are too small to see. Some may use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that trap nearly all the airborne particulates found in indoor air.
Depending on your home and location, you may not need something as dense as a HEPA filter to improve IAQ. A high-quality air filter for your HVAC system or a non-HEPA filtration system may be enough to remove the offending pollutants.
Electrostatic filters are another way we recommend to improve IAQ. These devices use an electrical charge on a metal plate to pull the airborne particulates to it where they stay. They are reusable, unlike air filters are discarded when they get dirty. Electrostatic filters are easy to wash and replace inside the HVAC system.
The air purifiers that improve air quality use UV (ultraviolet) lights to reduce the populations of organic compounds like viruses, bacteria, mold spores inside your home. UV light comes from sunshine, and it’s the spectrum that sanitizes these organic compounds.
When used in lights, the UV ray alters the DNA of whatever it touches, rendering the organic material unable to reproduce, which will improve air quality. While it doesn’t kill anything, it does eventually reduce the populations of the harmful organic materials indoors. When UV rays shine on VOCs (volatile organic compounds), these gases or particulates lose their toxicity.
VOCs are particularly challenging to deal with without UV lights. The only other way to eliminate them from your home’s air is through avoidance or fresh air ventilation. Considering how many products have VOCs inside them, it’s easier to install VOCs inside your home’s HVAC system. The best places are to put the lights in the ductwork or inside the air handler. The bulbs need to be changed annually and cleaned semi-annually for maximum effectiveness.
A new type of air cleaner combines filtration with UV technology. They’re called catalytic air cleaning systems that combine filtration with UV cleaning technology. Once they trap the particulates, the UV lights disable them. They give you the best of both worlds to improve IAQ.
Air quality issues become magnified when the humidity in your home is out of balance. Overly dry air promotes the spread of viruses and bacteria, which is why winter is the height of the flu season. In the summer, when humidity increases, mold colonies flourish as do bacteria.
Complete Heating and Cooling recommends humidity management by using central humidifiers for winter comfort. Your comfort will increase, as will the health of your home and electronics. In the summer, your air conditioner removes some of the excess humidity indoors. If it doesn’t, it’s time for the pros at Complete Heating and Cooling to look it over.
Adequate ventilation will also improve air quality. Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) use balanced ventilation to improve the IAQ. They pull out stale, stuffy air and bring in the same amount of fresh, clean outdoor air. They are the most energy-efficient way to ventilate your home and improve the quality of the air indoors. That is because the heat energy in the outdoor air is trapped and put into the incoming air. They have little impact on your heating or cooling bills but will improve IAQ.
At Complete Heating and Cooling, we know that ductwork is the primary cause of poor air quality. We can inspect the ductwork for leakage and offer options to correct it. We also provide air quality upgrades like the PureAir air purification system by Lennox. Our evaluation & estimates are free of charge. Give us a call at (540) 625-1638 to learn more about our IAQ options.
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If your family suffers from poor indoor air quality, we have solutions for you. Call us for a professional indoor air quality analysis and report, or use the “Contact Us” tab on the main page. Our lungs not only suffer from polluted outdoor air seeping inside our homes but even more so from the pollution that’s lurking inside as well.
Here are some of the most common indoor air pollutants:
- Mold growth inside the ductwork
- Materials used in home construction containing formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead
- Dryer lint from leaking ducts
- Gasses such as Radon and Carbon Monoxide
- A vacuum cleaner that is not HEPA quality
- Household products and pesticides
- Burning candles
- Tobacco smoke
- Leaky HVAC ducts
- Attic hatches inside the home
- Recessed light fixtures