Tips to Improve Air Quality at Home
Tips to Improve Air Quality at Home
Indoor quality is easy to overlook but it’s vital to your health and the integrity of your home. This is especially true in climates where heating and cooling seasons mean that windows don’t open that much so there’s not a lot of outside air naturally coming into your home. Indoor quality is often the single biggest health factor in people’s lives.
The primary factors that influence and degrade IAQ are particles, gases, and vapors in the air. Maintenance of good indoor air quality is a significant issue to both the HVAC design engineer and to those who maintain the system subsequent to its design and installation.
Clean air is vital to good health and every day we breathe as many as 24,000 breathes a day and spend as much as 75 percent of our time indoors. But indoor air is 2-5x polluted than outdoor air.
Sealing off traps and preventing energy loss in your home is a great investment but at the same time, you want to make sure you’re not sealing yourself up inside with bacteria, viruses, and allergy, and asthma triggers like dust and dander. Also, particles from factories, power plants, and cars or even pollen from trees, weeds, and other plants as well as bacteria, viruses are all harmful outdoor pollutants that can invade our homes even with our windows closed. Inside, new furniture, paints, and adhesives discharge harmful gases and even some of your everyday activities generate pollutants.
What are the common symptoms that a person is suffering from poor indoor quality?
- Respiratory Irritation
- Asthmas Flare-ups
And these will get worse as the concentration levels in the exposure increases. So here are the tips on how to improve good air quality in your home.
Change Your Furnace/AC Filter
A filter helps prevent dust and particles from getting into the furnace parts and from being blown out into your air. A filthy air filter won’t do you or your furnace or AC any good. So, change your filter regularly, every thirty to ninety days depending on what type you use.
Choose a higher quality pleated or electrostatically charged filter, if you have concerns about your indoor air due to allergies, illness, or if you have pets.
Like central air filters, air purifiers help remove pollutants from your home’s air. Here are a couple of tips for choosing one.
- Check its rating for cleaning speed and range (the higher, the better)
- Make sure it covers the size of your room
- Quite is better
- Make sure it removes particles that cause allergies and asthma, dust, and pollens.
If you want to filter out volatile organic compounds or VOCs from the air like adhesives, paints, or cleaning product fumes, you need a unit with carbon filters and keep in mind that some purifiers collect particles with ionizers or electrostatic charge but they can also produce ozone as a by-product. So, one must check instructions to see how to minimize emissions.
Clean Your Carpet and Fabrics
Particles and allergens settle on bedding, furniture, and carpeting. So, wash your beddings in hot water at least once a week. Dust and clean regularly using a slightly dampened cloth. A microfiber cloth or dusting cloth that won’t kick particles back up into the air. Vacuum your carpeting and furniture routinely to clear the dirt and pet dander that settles there.
Run the exhaust fans in your kitchen and your bathroom. This can help ventilate VOCs that can build up when cooking, cleaning, making home improvements, or even polishing your nails. It can also help vent moisture that can cause mold and mildew to grow.
ERV and HRV
Opening windows to let the air come into your house is the best way to let your house breathe. That way, you’ll get fresher air but this is not always the case during the winter or cold season since it’s cold, and losing all that heated air is expensive. So, an ERV or HRV system can be considered.
ERV system or Energy Recovery Ventilator is a ventilating system that vents poor indoor air and draws fresh outdoor air while keeping your home’s temperature and humidity levels stable preventing mold growth.
HRV system or Heat Recovery Ventilator is used to change the stale inside your home with dry fresh air from outside. Before introducing this fresh air, it is heated so heat loss is minimized. The HRV system can remove air pollutants, unwanted odors and will help regulate humidity in your home
Encapsulates your dirt crawlspace isolates stamp exposed earth from your home using a durable reinforced plastic liner. It can also provide a clean dry space for extra storage.
Air filtration is the first line of defense in improving indoor air quality but some airborne compounds like radon are extremely small and may pass through traditional filters freely.
The most effective solution for reducing radon levels in your home. This involves creating a pathway for a radon gas to travel away from your living spaces to be vented safely outside. The EPA recommends that homes with radon levels above 4 picocuries per liter are mitigated and as the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, all homes should have radon level tested.
It can get inside your house through foundation cracks and gaps. You can buy a radon test kit and you can test if you have radon present in your home, if you do, make sure to contact a radon mitigation specialist to get it taken care of. You can also consider an air filter that is rated to deal with these smaller compounds.
A healthy humidity level is between 40 and 60 percent. High humidity promotes bacterial growth and molds which releases airborne spores, another common allergen. Low humidity means viruses can survive longer and spread more readily.
A dehumidifier can help deal with water vapor and condensation in your basement reducing dusty smells and moisture that mold and dust mites thrive in. It can extract moisture from the surrounding area and a quality dehumidifier can extract several gallons of moisture from the air each day.
The health impacts of poor indoor quality are many. Pollutants and allergens enter our lungs and can trigger allergic reactions. Where dry conditions can lead to dryness of the throat and skin and increase the chance of catching a cold or flu. There are also passive effects too like; restless fitful sleeping and snoring leaving us feeling tired.
Vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, pregnant, and people with conditions like rhinitis and respiratory allergies need to be even more mindful.
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