Good indoor air quality is important! In this post, you can learn how to improve indoor air quality.
Many people know poor air quality can irritate allergies, inflame headaches, increase tiredness, dizziness, irritation of the eyes, nose, and/or throat. Some diseases, like asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever can flair up after exposure.
Sometimes effects can include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer (as in the case of radon exposure), and can even be debilitating or lethal!
You may want to look at your HVAC at some point, but there are some important things you can do yourself before addressing HVAC enhancements or changes.
There are three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality yourself
- Cause Management
- Improving Ventilation, and
- Air cleaners
Typically the best ways to improve indoor air quality are to simply remove or fix the causes of poor air quality, or to decrease their emissions.
Causes like asbestos can be removed, sealed or contained. Other potential areas of concern like gas stoves, can be adjusted to lessen the emissions.
Managing the causes are often cost-effective and are things you can do yourself. These types of solutions are often the most effective as well.
In hot and humid Midwest cities like Platte City and Weston, mold growth can be a concern. Many people are allergic to it, and black mold, which requires more than just humid air to grow, can be quite dangerous.
Another way to reduce indoor air pollutants and improve your air quality is to improve the ventilation. It will bring fresh air in and move old air out.
Keep in mind heating and cooling systems do not draw fresh air into homes – they simply recycle what is there.
Attic fans are a great way to move the air in your home out and bring in new air (as long as you have some windows and doors open). Sometimes the position of doors and windows don’t provide a good cross draft, so the extra help of an attic fan is really beneficial. When the weather is nice, it’s a good idea to turn the furnace off and open some windows and doors and turn on a whole room fan (or attic fan if you have one).
If you have a window air conditioner, check for a vent control. Often you can run the unit with the vent control open to increase the flow of outdoor air into the home.
Exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens remove contaminants and improve ventilation.
When you’re painting or stripping paint, using a kerosene heater, cooking, taking a steamy shower, or welding, soldering, or sanding, use a fan of some kind. When the weather is nice, consider doing some of these activities outside.
The value of an indoor air cleaner is determined by how well it pulls pollutants in (this is often shown as a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it brings through its cleaning or filtering components (usually shown in cubic feet per minute). A highly efficient air collector with a low air-circulation rate will not be valuable. Same with a system that has a high air-circulation rate but a less efficient collector. Maintaining the air cleaner according to the manufacturer’s standards will maximize the long-term performance of any unit.
Air cleaners come in all varieties – from personal, portable units to whole house systems. Some are excellent at particle removal (like for pollen) and many others, like most table-top models, are much less so. Unfortunately, gaseous pollutants like radon and carbon monoxide usually cannot be removed by any air cleaner. (If a test shows radon is present, it should be managed through remediation measures.)
Sometimes air cleaners are not effective. If there’s a large amount of mold in the room a person allergic to mold sleeps in, for example, there is little chance that any air cleaner can improve the situation.
There have been many articles written that indicate that houseplants can help clean the air. While there may be some truth to it, reductions are not usually enough to cause a noticeable difference. In addition, the moist dirt in the plants may create a hospitable environment for the growth of mold and other microorganisms that can cause irritation with people who have allergies.
Other solutions, like ultraviolet light in ducts, need to be handled by an HVAC professional. Contact us for more solutions or if you are considering purchasing an air cleaner.