All About Improving Your Indoor Air Quality

Modern homes have excellent insulation and are build with tight envelopes, but these homes can also keep fresh air out and pollutants in. That’s why it’s so important to you and your family’s health and comfort to ensure the indoor air quality of your Wake Forest, North Carolina, home is high. Poor indoor air quality from dirt, dust, pests, pet dander, microorganisms, and other contaminants can cause unpleasant smells, asthma or allergy symptoms, and other health problems. Consider these five ways you can improve the indoor air quality of your home.

Using an Air Purifier

Most air purifiers work like the air filter in your HVAC system, removing particles like smoke, pollen, and dust from your home’s air. You can use a small portable purifier that has a HEPA filter in one or two rooms to prevent sinus problems and sore throats, or you can have a professional like Alford Mechanical install a whole-home model in your system.

Another way to clean the air is by installing ultraviolet (UV) lamps in the air handler of your HVAC unit. Two types of UV lights are available for this application: air sterilization lights, which sterilize the incoming air, and coil sterilization lights, which sterilize the evaporator coil and drain pan. Both devices use UV light to either kill microorganisms or keep them from reproducing, keeping people healthier.

Cleaning Thoroughly

Household dust filled with toxins, pest droppings, pesticides, and other harmful substances can accumulate on surfaces. Make sure you vacuum and dust regularly to get rid of as many harmful pollutants as possible. Remember to clean ceiling fan blades, the tops of high shelves, your air registers, and other surfaces you might not notice. Also, regularly empty your vacuum and clean the filter, and add a doormat at the front door to keep guests from tracking dirt and allergens into your home.

Avoiding VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) evaporate at room temperature, and they’re in such common products as air fresheners, aerosol sprays, cleaners, glues, paints, permanent markers, and pesticides. Many common VOCs are petroleum-based, and some include acetone, xylene, benzene, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, methylene chloride, and perchloroethylene. Inhaling these compounds can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and a variety of other health issues.

To avoid VOCs, use essential oils or potpourri instead of commercial air fresheners — you can even simmer some cinnamon, cloves, or orange slices on your stove to freshen the air. Instead of buying cleaning products, make your own. Water and baking soda can remove many tough stains, and olive oil with lemon juice makes an excellent furniture polish.

Keep fuels, pesticides, paints, and other products with VOCs in a separate storage shed or garage. Small amounts of VOCs can leak through closed packaging and cause health problems if you keep them near your family. Use fragrance-free products when possible, and make sure your home has plenty of ventilation. Always open doors and windows when you use paint, nail polish remover, and other similar substances.

An energy recovery or heat recovery ventilator can help bring in fresh air and remove VOCs, particulates, and other harmful materials without wasting energy. You can have it installed in your ductwork, and it works like a heat pump, using a heat exchanger to transfer energy from the outgoing to the incoming air in your home. This is more efficient and effective than an exhaust fan; however, exhaust fans can also be useful for removing unpleasant smells and excess humidity.

Controlling Your Humidity

Low humidity in winter can lead to dry skin, chapped lips, sore throats, eye irritation, and other health problems. It can prolong colds and lead to sinus infections. It also causes static electricity. The air is naturally drier in winter, and using your heater can make this issue worse. Try to keep your levels around 45 percent for optimal health and comfort, and measure those levels with an inexpensive gauge called a hygrometer.

A humidifier helps you prevent damage to your home, stay comfortable in winter, and keep indoor air quality high. It can help you sleep better, and you won’t have to use as much energy to stay warm. Like air purifiers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers are available as portable or whole-home versions.

In summer, your humidity could become too high instead. Too much moisture can encourage biological growth and pests like roaches, silverfish, and dust mites. Fortunately, you can take care of high humidity with a dehumidifier and by using exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to remove moisture and contaminants when you cook or take a shower.

Maintaining Your HVAC System

In addition to changing your air filter regularly, you should check your HVAC system’s outdoor unit for debris like leaves, grass clippings, dirt, or pollen. If you notice anything, rinse it off with a garden hose to keep contaminants from getting into your system. Also, trim shrubs and other vegetation near your HVAC system.

At least once yearly, have your heater and air conditioner checked by a professional. That way, you can have problems like refrigerant leaks repaired before they impact your indoor air quality, waste energy, or damage other parts of your system. A regular maintenance plan makes taking care of your unit even more economical. It can help you extend your HVAC system’s life and make it more efficient.

Alford Mechanical has more than 15 years of heating, cooling, and indoor air quality experience, and we can help you with installing and maintaining a variety of HVAC equipment. We’re Trane Comfort Specialists, and we have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. We treat our customers like family, and we offer prompt, reliable service, competitive pricing, and a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. You can call us anytime at 919-246-5265 for outstanding, honest service from our expert technicians.

Image provided by Bigstock

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