5 Steps for Healthier Indoor Air Quality
When we think of air quality, we often refer to the Air Quality Index (AQI) outside. But, the quality of air inside our homes is just as important and is increasingly important as we spend more time indoors. While the air quality outdoors can affect how healthy air is inside, there are a number of things that can cause poor air quality inside your home.
Here are five steps you can take to improve the air quality inside your home and ensure a comfortable and healthy living environment for your family.
What can cause poor indoor air quality?
According to the the EPA, there are many pollutant sources inside a residential home. These sources can release particles or gases and poor ventilation can add to this problem by increasing pollutant levels.
Some pollutant sources include:
- Inefficient HVAC systems
- Excess moisture
- Building materials as well as newly installed carpet or flooring
- Household cleaning products
What are the health effects of poor indoor air quality?
The difference between outdoor and outdoor air pollution may not be severe, but there are more and more articles that show indoor air quality is closely linked to outdoor air quality, and may even be a greater hazard to your health than outdoor air pollution.
We spend most of our days indoors. What’s more, outdoor air pollution that does get inside can build up to extreme conditions that impact our health. The health effects of these hazards can range from mild fatigue to severe respiratory distress. While there is no one solution to mitigating all of these hazards to eliminate all indoor air pollution, taking action on some or all of the following steps will set you on the right path to a healthier home.
Step 1: Get to know your home
Let’s debunk the myth that indoor air pollution is more common in older homes!
Newly constructed and remodeled homes also contribute to indoor air pollution. A tighter building envelope will increase the home’s energy efficiency, but also better capture pollutants. They do a great job of containing the off-gassing of new paints, construction materials, cabinetry, and new carpets.
One solution is what’s referred to as Heat Recovery Ventilators or Energy Recovery Ventilators (HRV and ERV). These systems are designed to remove stale or polluted air in the home, exhaust it to the outside and then bring in fresh air. Heat Recovery Ventilators are ideal for tight, moisture-prone homes because they replace the humid air with dry, fresh air.
Step 2: Know what’s in the air you breathe
Many homes in the Portland metro area have issues with Radon, which is often a cause of lung cancer. Radon is naturally released from rocks, soil, and water from outdoors and can and can easily get into your home from small cracks or holes. Once again, the solution here can be accurately identified with an inexpensive testing kit. You can also get a more comprehensive assessment from a qualified professional.
Step 3: Reduce the use of chemical-based cleaners
Household cleaners, pesticides, and even store-bought air fresheners can affect your home’s air quality and, in turn, your health. Pay very close attention to the labels on household cleaning products. If possible, try switching to natural products that contain fewer toxic chemicals. Something most people don’t think about is recently dry-cleaned clothes, which can emit a number of harmful chemicals into the air.
Step 4: Use high-quality furnace filters and replace one a month
Traditional filters are designed to simply keep large particles, like hair and dust bunnies, from damaging the furnace fan blower. New designs in furnace filtration are now capable of 95% efficiency down to a five-micron size particle or better (the average human hair is 100 microns thick). There are also filtration systems designed to purify the air and eliminate anything of a chemical nature from the air you breathe. Ensuring that you choose the right furnace filter for your residence is key to having healthy indoor air quality.
Step 5: Go green and have a plant or two
Have you watered your houseplants lately? Houseplants are by far the easiest, least costly, and visually appealing solution to cleaner indoor air. Plants can do a great job of removing toxins from inside your home. Some plants do work harder than others. A few that have been shown to work really well are Areca Palms, rubber plants, and Dracaena (one of the easiest houseplants to grow). A good rule of thumb is to use two plants per 100 square feet.
Contact Our HVAC Specialists For Your Home’s Air Quality Needs
Our HVAC company proudly serves the Portland-metro area. We know the Pacific Northwest and have called it home for over half a century! This means we know how to help our customers choose the best HVAC system for their home’s unique needs. What’s more? We can install and regularly maintain your HVAC system. Plus, we offer 24-hour emergency HVAC service. Contact us today or schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!