Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is the term typically used to describe the quality of the air within a specific inhabited area. It is an important part of our lives, but is often played down or overlooked completely. There are several factors that can contribute to the overall quality of indoor air. Thankfully, your local HVAC professionals have ways to deal with each and every contaminant you may encounter. Because everyone deserves to reap the benefits of clean air to breathe.
Types of Contaminants
microscopic bugs that can be found in your house, couch, bed or carpet
This type of contaminant mostly consists of pollen and mold spores. While pollen and mold spores are an important part of the circle of life, they also wreak havoc on anyone who may be allergic to them. Allergic reactions have many symptoms such as runny noses, sneezing fits, itchiness throughout the nasal passageway, and an overall stuffy feeling. Even people who are not allergic to these spores can still become irritated by them at times.
VOC’s, Formaldehyde and Toxic Gasses
According to the EPA, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, even organ and nervous system damage. These compounds come from household chemicals such as paint, wax, varnish, disinfectants, degreasers, and anything else formed of organic chemicals. The EPA also says that quantities of VOCs are up to five times higher inside than they are outside.
Humidity and Mold
Humidity in homes can originate from the outdoors if doors or windows are left open. It can also come from improperly vented areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms. Not only is it uncomfortable to live in an overly humid environment, it also happens to be where mold and mildew thrive. Since mold can thrive both indoors or outdoors, the effects have been included in the outdoor allergen section.
Carbon monoxide (CO) has been dubbed the “silent killer” because it can kill you without you knowing. It is an odorless, tasteless, colorless, and non-irritating gas. CO comes from appliances in your home that burn fuels such as natural gas, propane, kerosene, etc. It can also come from barbeque grills that are lit too close to an open window. To be safe, one must always assume that anything with a flame can produce CO.
Germs, Bacteria and Viruses
Even though germs are everywhere, and most are harmless, there are some out there that you should watch out for. For the most part, germs are spread around by other people who are infected. Bacteria are single-celled organisms and some of the harmful ones can cause strep throat and tuberculosis. Viruses are even smaller than cells and work by invading cells within your body. Some more common viruses are the common cold and the flu.
Out of all the contaminants that can be found in your air, odors are the ones that usually stick out the most. It’s true that odors alone won’t cause you harm, but they can sure make you uncomfortable! Some common sources of household odors include pets, infestations, improperly installed appliances, breakdown of materials. If you can locate the source of an odor, you can usually eliminate it.
How is it Measured
As you are now aware, there are multitudes of factors and contaminants that can plague your indoor air quality. They are not all measured the same. Most of them can be measured with specialized air quality testers which provide a particulate readout. In other words, it shows you how many tiny pieces of a specific contaminant it found in the air. Whereas others, such as humidity, are just delineated as a percentage. Then there are some contaminants which are difficult or impossible to measure at all. Unfortunately, a lot of contaminants do not have government or EPA standard levels to determine if exposure is too high. That is why it’s still a good idea to provide your home or office with the cleanest possible air. Afterall, we do spend almost 90% of our time inside.
Ways to Reduce Contaminants
The amount of indoor air contaminants can be overwhelming, but rest assured, there are solutions that your local HVAC professionals can use to limit them.
First of all, there is duct and air barrier sealing. This process first tests where you may have air leakage in your HVAC system. Once these leaks are detected, they are sealed up. A properly sealed system operates more efficiently which can save on energy consumption. It also creates an environment that is beneficial for dust mite removal.
If you are more concerned with outdoor allergens, then a whole house filtration system would benefit you. An effective filtration system can be up to 100 times more effective than typical disposable filters. They accomplish this by removing up to 99.98% of household allergens that travel through the air. Since they can catch particles down to .1 microns, they are effective at removing pollen, spores, and even odors from your breathing air.
Removing other pollutants such as VOC’s, formaldehyde, toxic gasses and odors can be done with a whole house air purifier. Air purifiers remove contaminants from the air, but instead of drawing them out through a filter, they use ultraviolet light instead. This method is also good for removing germs, bacteria, and viruses because they die in the presence of UV lights.
One of the easiest ways to increase your air quality in a properly sealed house is to reduce the humidity. A whole house dehumidifier can lower the moisture content in your home or office to a comfortable level that you choose. Or, if you only have certain areas that are humid, you could use an exhaust fan that is designed to sense the humidity and automatically turn on when it is needed.
If your home uses combustible fuels, you need to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide. The only way to be alerted to CO production is to have a detector installed. Even if you choose not to have a CO alarm professionally installed, it’s still important to remain protected.
Benefits of Having Cleaner Indoor Air Quality
As one can imagine, there are great benefits to maintaining a higher indoor air quality. The most notable difference will be observed by those who suffer from allergies or asthma. The reduction in irritants will allow them to live more comfortably. Even if no one in your household suffers from respiratory illnesses, the removal of contaminants is just overall better for anyone’s respiratory system. There will also be fewer chances to come in contact with sickness inducing germs. Being proactive about your health provides returns in the long run.
Who to call
If you live in Bay County, Florida and would like to ramp up your indoor air quality, give Beahan’s Heat and Air a call at 850-866-2273. Or, send us a message on our contact page. We can work with you to find a solution that provides your desired results.