If you’ve ever suspected that your indoor air quality (IAQ) is worse indoors than it is outside, you’re probably correct. Studies have shown that most homes have an alarming level of contamination that can affect human health. More than 30 million people suffer from sinus infections which can be caused by dirt, dust, pet hair, and mold spores. If you have allergies or a pre-existing breathing condition, your health can suffer unless you take steps to improve the IAQ. In this article, we will look at some common indoor pollutants and offer some advice on how to remove them.
4 Common Contaminants That Lower IAQ
Taking steps to improve your IAQ is easier if you have a good idea of the common contaminants in your air. If people in the home have trouble breathing or they get sick and stay that way, there could be a problem with the HVAC system. Let’s take a look at four of the most common causes of poor IAQ in homes.
- Dust Mites
Many homes contain dust mites. They can be found nesting in fabric surfaces, bedding, rugs, carpets, and more. Even if you clean regularly, you’re likely to have at least a few of these pests residing in your home. Dust mites feed on the dead skin cells that are shed by humans and pets that are living in your home. These pests are a common trigger for a number of seasonal reactions, such as coughing, sneezing, breathing difficulties, itchy eyes, and asthma attacks. You can reduce the number of dust mites in your home by washing your bedding on a hot wash and drying them on a high heat every two weeks. This removes dust mites, but it also inhibits their ability to reproduce and proliferate in your home. But, you cannot remove all dust mites, and you may want to investigate other methods to deal with them. Talk to your local HVAC specialist about installing some anti-allergy air filters or a dedicated filtration system.
- Pet Hair
Many people have one or more furry friends living in their home, we love them, but they can shed a lot of pet hair. Even a short-haired dog can shed its entire coat more than a few times each year, and this is especially noticeable in spring. If anyone in your home has allergies, you may notice that they seem to be worse in spring and summer. This could be caused by your pet shedding their winter or summer coat. This situation can be improved with regular cleaning and pet grooming, but it’s impossible to get rid of pet hair entirely. It’s also a good idea to get your air vents, and ductwork inspected and cleaned to improve the IAQ. If you have a lot of pets, you may want to clean and redecorate periodically with a paint that contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are toxic chemicals that gradually release harmful chemicals that will lower the IAQ further.
- Toxic Mold
Checking for toxic mold and removing it is one of the best ways to improve your IAQ. Many homes have mold related issues. Mold can get into a home via the walls, attic, or basement. If you can see any standing water in your home or touch a wall and feel soft, you may have a black mold problem. Another sign to look for is water droplets which seem to pool on the ceilings and drip down the walls. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time for a home inspection, and if you want to sell your home, it takes six months for the mold remediation process. Ask a local HVAC contractor to assess the condition of your ducts, and they will be able to identify any mold growth. Allergic reactions to mold are serious; they can even cause eye and chest pains. Consult a doctor if you have any adverse reactions and take steps to remove the mold quickly.
- Cleaning Products
We talked a little about the importance of regular cleaning, but many people are unaware that their cleaning products could be lowering their IAQ. In fact, many cleaning products contain toxic chemicals, including furniture polishes, air fresheners, floor cleaners, and more. Some of these chemicals can exacerbate asthma conditions or trigger an allergic reaction. When it comes to your HVAC system, the main issue is that toxic chemical residues can be trapped in the system. During a typical day, the HVAC system will circulate and re-circulate the air multiple times. Gradually, the IAQ may become so bad that your breathing will suffer, and you will find that it’s very hard to relax in your own home. The best way to deal with this situation is to make a switch to greener cleaning products or even make your own. If you do a search online, you can find many cleaning product recipes that use friendlier household ingredients, such as baking soda and white vinegar. It’s also important to let some fresh air into your home every day to replenish the oxygen levels.
How to Improve Your IAQ at Home
We’ve covered some simple tips and tricks related to each type of IAQ contamination above. Regular dusting and cleaning are important, but you need to use a vacuum that has an anti-allergen filter and work from the top of the room down. A wet microfiber cloth is great for mopping up deposits of dust, and you can avoid chemicals. Regular pet grooming, bedding washing, and drying sleeping fabrics on a high heat will also help. But, if you want the best results, you need to schedule some regular inspections and maintenance for your HVAC system.
Regular HVAC System Health Checks
It’s easy to replace your air filters and carry out basic cleaning, but regular maintenance for your HVAC system will pay off in the medium to long term. Well maintained heating and cooling systems are more energy efficient, which saves you money. An HVAC system is less likely to break down when it has regular maintenance, and the repair bills will be smaller. Your local certified HVAC specialist can inspect and clean your ductwork for you to make your indoor air cleaner. Finally, if you want to really improve your IAQ, you can ask about an air purification system for your home.