Technical Talk: Assess Your Indoor Air Quality

Technical Talk: Assess Your Indoor Air Quality

Enjoying that warm summer breeze, but afraid of what it might be allowing into your home? Surprisingly, the pollution outside may pale in comparison to what’s actually inside your home.

Should You Test Your Indoor Air Quality?

Though a variety of home air quality test kits exist for the DIY homeowner that are less costly than professional testing, they are also far less reliable. In many cases, common sense can lead you to poor indoor air quality culprits, and from here you can determine whether professional evaluation is needed…

  • Mold
    Fungi are notoriously linked to indoor air pollution. However air quality testing for mold is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), as individual sensitivity to various types of mold differ by individual. Knowing the exact type of mold is not important – the best practice is removal - and preventing future growth by controlling moisture and humidity.
  • VOCs
    Most indoor air quality testing equipment for VOCs is unhelpful, as no federal standards exists for levels within the home. The exceptions to this rule include formaldehyde and benzene, found in fuels, glues, paints, furniture, cleaners, and tobacco smoke. Linked to cancer, accurate, professional testing is essential – the degree of difficulty in gathering and interpreting data here is high.
  • Biological Contaminants
    Pollen, bacteria, pet dander, rodent urine and droppings, alongside dust mite and cockroach droppings and skeletal remains can collectively plague indoor air with a cornucopia of contaminants, most of which are highly allergenic. Though testing can sniff out contaminants, it’s often easier to simply seek out visual clues: Dusty surfaces, droppings, and other evidence of dirt or infestation.
  • Stuffy Air
    Today’s newly-built homes are tightly sealed and insulated, leading to an increased buildup of toxins and biological contaminants within. Exacerbating the issue are HVAC systems designed to recirculate stale indoor air to minimize energy costs.

How Challenging is it to Control These Issues?

You can improve the air quality within your home by following these principles of healthy homes:

  • Keep it dry.
    Grab a low-cost hygrometer from the local tool store, and keep humidity levels below 60%, using a dehumidifier to dry out the air as needed.
  • Keep it clean.
    Vacuuming, wet-dusting, and general cleaning are necessary to controlling contaminant containing dust and droppings.
  • Stay on top of maintenance.
    Especially HVAC air filter maintenance, which can harbor an assortment of air polluting particles. Upgrade to a MERV 6-8 filter for improved particle filtration, but don’t go higher without the help of an HVAC pro to avoid straining your system.
  • Be contaminant-free.
    Choose cleaning products, furniture, and other products for your home that are as natural as possible. Buy this – not that.
  • Control pests.
    Seek professional help when infestation occurs, avoiding harmful pesticides.
  • Boost ventilation.
    Ventilation can help reduce concentrations of those unavoidable allergens and health hazards, such as spot ventilation above the stove or in the bath. Or address the entire living space with ‘dilution ventilation’ – the combination of natural ventilation (leakage or windows), paired with added mechanical ventilation incorporated into your home’s HVAC system.
  • Monitor temperature.
    Warm temperatures can promote the growth of microorganisms which that affect allergic individuals. Aim for 73° F to 79° F.
  • Stay safe.
    Properly ventilate all combustion appliances (cook stove, gas furnaces/boilers, water heaters), and always use carbon monoxide detectors. Store all chemical-containing fuels and cleaners safely and away from the interior of your home.

Ensure your home is a safe and comfortable haven. Discuss ways to improve the indoor air quality in your home with an Aire Serv® professional today.

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