According to the EPA, indoor air contains two to five times the concentration of pollutants compared to outdoor air. Since the average American spends 90% of their time inside, indoor air quality matters for your family. Thankfully, with the right tools and strategies you can improve the air in your home.
EPA Recommended Air Quality Solutions
The government’s Environmental Protection Agency offers advice for families to protect their homes from indoor air pollution. One reason you’re hearing more about indoor air pollution is the increase in contaminants. In the goal to make buildings more energy efficient, we’ve also made them less ventilated. This means inadequate air exchange between inside and outside air. The same air cycles through your home over and over without the benefit of new air entering from the outside.
Better home ventilation is one of the top recommendations from the EPA. Look for ways to improve the flow of new air into your home from the outside, like by opening windows and doors. However, natural air flow decreases energy efficiency from your HVAC unit.
Also, many products now have higher concentrations of toxins, like building materials, household cleaners, furniture and more. This increased exposure means we must work harder to keep the air in our homes clean. Improve your air quality by looking for products with less chemicals and more natural components.
Clean Air Ducts
Clean your home’s air ducts to improve air quality. The air ducts are the part of the HVAC system that moves air into and out of your unit. Air ducts connect from the main part of the HVAC unit to the rooms in your home through the air vents.
Air travels in through the registers and becomes conditioned in the HVAC unit to produce the desired temperature based on the thermostat setting. The air then moves within the air ducts back into your home through the vents. The problem arises when dirt, mold or debris in the air ducts attach to the air before it enters your home. The air gathers unwanted particles and reduces indoor air quality.
Don’t settle for dirty air ducts! Schedule professional air duct cleaning to help your family breath easier. Clean your air ducts annually for best results. Air duct cleaning removes debris and dirt, but it also removes dangerous particles like mold and bacteria.
Install Air Purifiers
Install air purifiers in your home for even better air quality. Air purifiers are an especially good idea for people with asthma and allergies. The contaminants in the air trigger allergies creating unwanted symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. Asthma patients suffer even more. Unfortunately, poor air quality may lead to asthma flare-ups.
Air purifiers come in several varieties and price ranges. Electronic air cleaners offer two main options. First, Electrostatic precipitators use an ionization chamber and two flat plates. Unwanted particles collect on the plates and must be cleaned off periodically. Second, ion generators push ions into the air in your home which forces unwanted particles to collect on surfaces in your home versus floating in the air. You would then clean off the particles when you dust or wash items in your home.
In conjunction with air cleaners, dehumidifiers adjust the moisture levels in the air to help prevent mold growth. This function also improves air quality and changes the condition of the air so that it’s harder for these unwanted particles to thrive.
Replace Air Filters
Clean air filters are an important part of improved indoor air quality. The air filter in your HVAC unit collects dust, debris and dirt as the conditioned air passes into the ventilation system. When air filters become dirty, they do not clean the air effectively. Not only does indoor air quality suffer, but your HVAC unit must work harder to push air into your home. This creates less energy efficiency and shortens the lifespan for your unit.
Instead, replace or clean the air filter every one to three months. Adjust the timeframe according to your home. For example, if you have pets, ongoing construction or someone in the home smokes, you should change the air filters monthly. Luckily, homeowners can easily change air filters without professional help. However, it’s still a good idea to invest in seasonal preventative maintenance to keep your unit clean and working its best.
Improved Air Quality Means Better Health
Did you know that poor indoor air quality negatively impacts your families short- and long-term health? That’s right! Short-term effects may show up after only one exposure to a pollutant.
Often the short-term symptoms of poor air quality mimic the common cold. You may suffer from poor air quality and not even know it! Common side effects of poor indoor air quality include: eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. When your family leaves home the symptoms may lessen. However, when they return home so do the symptoms.
With ongoing and unresolved exposure to contaminants in the air, long-term health issues develop. These issues don’t go away when you leave the polluted air. Because people spend so much time inside, it’s critical to improve air quality and avoid dangerous health conditions. Long-term health effects include: respiratory diseases, heart disease, asthma and even cancer.
Don’t let your home make your family sick! And, don’t wait until illness occurs to address the problem. Start today to incorporate positive solutions to improve the air quality in your home. If you notice any of these symptoms in your family, consider how the air in your home may be part of the cause. Fix the problem fast before long-term or fatal illnesses strike.
Let J&W Heating and Air Help Improve Your Home’s Air Quality
At J&W Heating and Air, we are experts on the air in your home. We offer HVAC repair, maintenance and installation. We also provide air duct cleaning and other services to support your effort to keep your family healthy.