The exact causes of bad indoor air quality (IAQ) can vary from home to home, dependent on the types of contaminants present in the air. For this reason, some experts in this field look purely at the comfort of the people living in the home. But, no matter the exact makeup of your indoor air, it is true that a poor level of indoor air can have a dramatic effect on health. This is extremely noticeable for people that have allergies or pre-existing respiratory illnesses. Poor quality indoor air can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions and lead to other health complications. Many people are unaware that the quality of air in their homes may be worse than the pollution levels outdoors. In this article, we will look at six possible causes of bad IAQ and how you can fix the problem.
- New or Unusual Symptoms
Many people suffer from mild allergies that are only exacerbated during the summer months when the pollen count is high or exposure to a trigger. But, if you or someone else in the home is experiencing some new reaction, such as fevers, chills, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, rashes, muscular pains, hearing loss, or shortness of breath, then the situation in the home may have become much worse recently. The first thing to do is contact your doctor and ask them to identify the cause of your change in health. This will help you to deal with symptoms and may offer some clues on the cause of the problem, which may be related to poor IAQ.
- Changes in Allergic Reactions
As we mentioned above, an allergic episode is often triggered by the weather or a change in the seasons, But allergy sufferers are also sensitive to IAQ contaminants, and a reaction could be related to air pollution in your home. A high concentration of dust, pollen, pet dander, and other airborne pollutants can feel worse in enclosed spaces than they would feel if you were outdoors. Some typical allergic reactions might include sneezing, coughing, headaches, congestions, bloody noses, and watery eyes. If you notice that these symptoms are less noticeable in other environments or outdoors and they get worse when you enter your home, you may have a poor IAQ problem. In many cases, these types of health issues disappear entirely when the IAQ is improved.
- Changes in Your Neighborhood
Sometimes the cause of poor IAQ can be related to other factors outside the home. One of the worst culprits is new or ongoing construction that can release a large volume of dust, dirt, and chemical contaminants into the air. This phenomenon is also common if you live in an area with high levels of industrial or agricultural activity. Another possible cause could be recent activity from your neighbors if they’ve painted their home or sprayed their garden with an insecticide or pesticide. Contaminants can easily enter your home via the doors, windows, and ducts that lead outdoors. Cleaning your indoor air is the best way to deal with airborne pollutants located in your local area.
- Home Repairs or Remodeling
If you have not noticed any new or unusual activity from your neighbors, the cause of your poor IAQ may have been caused by recent repairs or remodeling projects. If you’ve recently painted inside your home, replaced a floor, or made other major changes, it can have a negative effect on the IAQ. A great deal of dust and debris can be released into the air, and many home improvement products contain chemicals that can reduce the IAQ significantly. This situation can be improved with thorough cleaning and ventilation after the home improvement project is completed. It’s also a great idea to inspect, clean, or replace the air filters for your HVAC system. This will help to improve the airflow to make the air a little cleaner and avoid overheating issues that can damage your HVAC equipment.
- Uneven Air Distribution
In certain cases, you may notice that the IAQ is worse or better in various areas of your home. If the consistency and purity of the airflow is impeded, it can affect how people feel in one room or another. You may notice that the air feels muggy or drier in one location and more comfortable in other areas. Another sign that the air distribution is uneven is the presence of hot or cold spots in the home. These types of problems could indicate that your HVAC system needs a service, or if it’s an older model, it may be time for a replacement. If you have a newer HVAC system, consider an energy audit and schedule some regular maintenance to discover the cause of these problems. In some cases, the addition of a humidifier or dehumidifier can help you to get the humidity levels back into the comfortable range.
- Blocked or Dirty Ducts
Many homes rely on a network of ducts to deliver the treated air to each room. If the ducts are block or the ductwork is dirty, the volume of clean air is diminished, and the IAQ will suffer. Make sure that the ducts are opened and clear even in rooms that are not in use. Schedule some duct cleaning to sanitize the surfaces, which will remove contaminants such as dust, dirt, pet dander, vermin, bacteria, and mold spores. Many people are surprised at the difference in their IAQ after the ducts have been professionally cleaned.
When your IAQ is bad, it can make your home uncomfortable and exacerbate pre-existing allergies and respiratory illnesses. But, over time, this can also lead to the development of these types of health issues for anyone. If you notice that you are developing persistent coughs, sneezes, and even pneumonia or bronchial symptoms, the cause may be poor IAQ. This is especially true if you feel better when you are outside your home.
If you’ve noticed any of the above causes of poor IAQ, contact your local certified HVAC specialist today. They can help you to assess the scale of the problems and fix them to make your home healthier and more comfortable.