In a world where just about everything seems to be harmful to your health, it can be easy to tune out every warning given by governmental agencies and doctors. Trust us, we understand. But there is one place that you probably feel the most safe in regards to your health, which is your home. However, did you know that indoor air quality can sometimes be much worse than the air quality outside? Scary, right? Some studies by the Environmental Protection Agency show that the indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times, up to 100 times higher than outdoor levels. Another study showed that we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors. This could definitely be harmful to you and your family’s health.
So we know your first question...what causes this poor indoor air quality? There are a number of factors that contribute to this. The typical culprits are inside the home: pet dander, cigarette smoke, dirt and dust, mold, chemicals from building materials, smoke from fireplaces and kitchens, etc.
One of the main things that makes a world of a difference to combat these culprits of indoor air pollution, is your heating and air conditioning system. Problems during the installation and maintenance of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system could not only prevent it from working properly, but also prevent it from ventilating air properly. This means an increase in dust, chemicals, and allergens in your home.
In addition, a ventilation strategy is critical for improving indoor air quality and minimizing the health risks of poor indoor air. While many homeowners depend on the natural ventilation in homes occurring through air leaks in the building envelope (leaks between the living space and the crawl space, attic and walls), this is not a reliable remedy. Often, the crawlspace and walls are full of toxins (like mold) that enter the living space. The best way to improve indoor air quality is through ventilation of your entire house, using either a powerful whole-house fan or a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV).
In addition to ventilation, there are some other ways to decrease levels of pollutants in your home, thus, increasing your indoor air quality.
Here are some of our tips and tricks:
• Check and change your air conditioning filters every 30 days. The dirt and dust particles that accumulate on the filter prevent proper airflow into your home and also get into the air, so you are breathing in more of those dirt and dust particles.
• Inspect your ductwork. One of the most overlooked causes of poor air filtration as well as hot and cold air escaping by homeowners and even some heating and air conditioning companies is leaky ducts and improperly designed ducts.
• Make sure that fuel burning furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, range tops, and exhaust fans are vented to the outside, well away from windows and HVAC intakes.
• Utilize your exhaust vents when you cook to prevent smoke, vapors, and grease from entering in the air.
Ultimately, if you are concerned with the air quality in your home, we suggest getting a certified technician to come check out your ductwork and ventilation system. We hope that you find these tips and tricks easy to implement in your home and ultimately, see a difference in the air quality of your home.