Improving the overall indoor air quality of your home or business is still a theme in the water cooler. Children always sneeze, the house always seems so dusty, why does our office always smell so bad? Why are my hands so rough? Sounds familiar?
To be honest, the solutions are simple, but they won’t go away without help. The first thing to do is perform a simple indoor air quality assessment. You can make one by simply following these questions or get a free evaluation from one of your local heating and cooling contractors. Make sure they have something to do with indoor air quality. Some are now known as Indoor Air Quality Consultants or IAQs. These are some of the basic questions:
1. Do you notice any symptoms especially or when you are in certain rooms or floors of the house? For example, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, runny nose or eyes.
2. Are there smokers in the house?
3. Do you have pets? What type?
4. Does anyone have allergies or asthma?
5. What type of heating and cooling system do you have and how resistant is it?
6. What type of home filtration system do you have, if any?
7. Do you have a dehumidifier somewhere in the house?
8. Do you have a humidifier somewhere in the house?
9. Do you have signs of mold?
10. Do your windows ever get condensed during the winter months?
So now I am going to suggest some simple suggestions to possibly remedy your problems.
1. Check and change your air filters at least every three months and clean all supply and return vents in your home at least once a year. This one is so simple and yet people don’t seem to follow it. If your filters are covered in dirt and dust, there’s no way the air can properly circulate more dust or new dirt and it soon starts clogging the filter, which turns out to be bad for your oven and for you.
Here’s what the EPA says about household filters:
“Panel or flat air filters with a MERV of 1 to 4 are commonly used in furnaces and residential air conditioners. For the most part, these filters are used to protect HVAC equipment from the accumulation of unwanted materials in the surfaces, such as fan motors and heating or cooling coils, and not for direct indoor air quality reasons.
Extended or pleated surface filters
Medium efficiency filters with a MERV of 5 to 13 are reasonably efficient at removing small and large airborne particles. Filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be almost as effective as true HEPA filters in controlling most particulates in indoor air. Medium efficiency air filters are generally less expensive than HEPA filters and allow for quieter HVAC fan operation and higher air flow rates than HEPA filters as they have less resistance to air flow. “
There are also some filter additions that go further and depending on your situation you should check these out. If you are concerned about allergies and dust, an air duct purifier with UV light might solve your problems. They are known to kill mold, germs, and viruses, and the bulbs typically last about two years. A good filter and UV light can work wonders, but they must be properly maintained.
2. So now let’s talk about your heating and air conditioning. How old are they? If you have a system that is 15-20 years old, it may be time to upgrade. The fan fan may no longer circulate air at full capacity. The condenser may not be cooling down to where it should be. If you buy a new high-efficiency oven, the comfort level and air quality can instantly improve simply because the blower is no longer having a problem and the air is circulating and filtered properly.
3. An energy recovery fan (ERV) exchanges stale indoor air with an equal amount of fresh air from outside. It retains heat and moisture from the air exchanged in winter, but preconditions and dehumidifies incoming air in summer to make your home or office more comfortable all year round. If you have smokers in the house, is this a great way to remove bad toxins from the air? The (ERV) is also a great tool for removing condensation, mold, allergens, reducing radon particles, and simply making your home or office smell better.
4. Whole House Humidifier – If you experience dry skin and air during the winter, you are not alone. You may even think that the little 5 gallon elephant vaporizer may even help you as it spews mist into your bedroom while you sleep and it might, a little. Well, instead of being selfish, a whole house bypass humidifier will usually do the trick for your entire family or employees. They install easily and can start to dispense as little as 7-12 gallons of water per day without having to refill another vaporizer. These also do wonders with static electricity.
5. Whole House Dehumidifier – Unless you live in a poor area or under the flood table, you shouldn’t need a commercial solution like one of these, but it can sometimes help. If you are tired of constantly exhausting the portable basement system you are currently using, this might be your best option. The basic whole house dehumidifier will remove four times more water from the air than typical dehumidifiers and will save energy and also filter the air.
6. When it comes to mold, some of the above solutions can help, but especially with airborne mold. If you can see mold build-up in your basement or bathroom, it is recommended that you contact a mold abatement professional for an evaluation. Unattended mold could do a lot of damage. The damage may not even be visible because it is behind the drywall or panels.
Every home and every concern is going to vary, but the article above should give you at least a heads up as to whether you should be concerned about indoor air quality. When in doubt or for a second opinion, you can always call one of your local indoor air quality experts.