Improving indoor air quality is an important key to maintaining your family’s health. Did you know that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside air? Gasses and odors produced by cleaning products, construction materials, cooking and even family members (ha!) contribute to poor air quality along with other airborne pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, mold, mildew, pollen, dander, smoke, and dust. All those pollutants are not only being deposited on your furniture, but, more importantly, they are being inhaled by your family and are contributing factors to a number of health issues and diseases. The good news is that you can do something about it, and it will help keep your home cleaner and your family healthier. From heating repair services to routine maintenance, there are several steps homeowners can take to create a healthier environment in their homes. Here are some quick and simple tips that can get your home’s air quality heading in the right direction.
3 Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality
1. Boost Ventilation
New construction methods emphasize the air tightness of the building’s “envelope,” which is the term used to describe the outside walls, ceiling, and roof structure. By sealing up cracks around windows, doors, and wall systems, builders have greatly reduced the amount of outside air that can infiltrate your home. Of course, this pays off in the form of lower heating and cooling bills, but it also amplifies the accumulation of indoor air pollutants.
National air ventilation standards call for a fresh air change rate of 0.35 air changes per hour in our homes. This means that about 1/3 of the air within your home should be replaced with outdoor air every hour. Most homes easily achieve this air change rate, because home construction methods naturally create “leaky” homes. However, as homes do become tighter and less “leaky,” ensuring a proper fresh air supply may require installation of a “fresh air ventilation system.” This system will automatically draw in fresh, outdoor air as needed.
If the weather is nice enough, consider opening a few windows and allowing fresh air to circulate throughout your home. That fresh air will naturally flush out the pollutants in your home and refresh the atmosphere inside. During hot and cold weather, opening windows is not really an option, so you may consider using more advanced media filters on your heating and cooling systems. As your HVAC system heats and cools your home, a media filter traps dust, pollen and other pollutants and keeps them from recirculating within the home.
Cooking vents are also an effective method for clearing the air. This is because stove-top burners and the cooking process produce a number of pollutants which can enter the inside atmosphere and cause respiratory issues. Turning on the fan while cooking will draw fresh air into your home and exhaust undesirable odors and pollutants, thereby keeping them from spreading into the rest of the home.
2. Change Your Filters
Heating and cooling systems feature a mesh-like filter material that captures dust, pollen and other pollutants as air passes through the system. Filters are rated according to the amount of filtration they provide, and this is called a MERV rating. Higher MERV ratings indicate how well the filter traps various pollutants, and a higher MERV number is better than a lower one.
Be careful that you follow the filter manufacturer’s minimum suggested replacement schedule. If you have pets or smokers in the home, you will need to replace your filter more often than the minimum replacement interval. Avoid permitting a filter to become heavily plugged up, because that can cause damage to your furnace’s blower system, resulting in expensive repairs.
Remember this simple truth: “You are either going to breathe filtered air, or you are going to be a filter.”
So, check your air filters at least once a month, and consider upgrading to a better filter, especially if your HVAC system is only using a basic, fiberglass-floss filter.
3. Clean the Air Ducts
If your home uses ductwork (as opposed to mini-split, ductless heating and cooling systems), you may want to consider hiring a duct cleaning contractor. Over time, fine dust, allergens, and other pollutants accumulate within the ductwork system, especially if low-quality fiberglass-floss filters have been used in the past. A portion of this accumulation of pollutants will be recirculated throughout your home every time the furnace or AC kicks on.
Use a 1-2 punch to help knock out this problem. Firstly, begin using filters with higher MERV ratings, and ensure that you faithfully adhere to a regular replacement schedule. Keep an extra filter on hand, so that you never get caught with a plugged-up air filter.
Now that a better filter has been installed in your HVAC system, this will greatly reduce the chance of any further buildup within your duct system. So, the next step is to hire a qualified contractor to clean the inside of your ductwork. Using rotating brushes and high-powered vacuum systems, they will remove an astounding amount of buildup from within your ductwork. Once complete, maintain quality filters on your HVAC system and have the ducts cleaned if you notice buildup occurring again.
Ensure your system is ready for the season by working with Jon’s Plumbing & Heating in Mount Vernon. We have more than 20 years of experience in heating repair and are recognized as a Mitsubishi® Diamond Preferred contractor. With EPA certifications and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau®, our experts know the best techniques for improving indoor air quality. Call (740) 392-5667 to schedule an appointment.