The EPA suggests your home’s air contains two to five times the contaminants of outdoor air. But what are those contaminants, and how can you mitigate them? This guide will give you the foundational information you need to manage your home’s air quality.
The Most Common Air Contaminants
There are three primary types of pollutants you will likely run into in your home. On occasion, you may have to deal with toxic gases like radon or carbon monoxide, but those are not common with a properly maintained home.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are some of the most overlooked pollutants. Things around your home like paint, glue, caulk, cleaners and air fresheners add VOCs to the air, typically in the form of a gas.
Biological pollutants include bacteria, viruses and airborne fungi. These pollutants are generally things that are alive and can grow if given a chance.
Most people think of the last type of contaminant, which is particulate matter. This includes pollen, dust, dirt and basically anything that’s large enough for the naked eye to see.
Improving Quality with Filtration
The first step to removing contaminants is to use a filter. Air moves through the filter, trapping contaminants, allowing clean air to move on. Filters are especially useful for removing particulate matter.
When you think about removing pollutants from the air, you need to think about the size of the particle. The MERV scale rates filters based on the size of particles it can remove.
However, remember that more filtering isn’t always better. As the pores for allowing air to flow through get smaller, the volume of air that can pass through reduces. Be sure to check your HVAC system’s specifications to determine the right kind of filters for it.
When humidity is too high, things grow that should not. If it’s too low, then particulate contaminants stay airborne longer, increasing how many you inhale. These additional airborne contaminants clog your HVAC system, which increases your operating costs and causes more frequent servicing.
According to the EPA, the optimum humidity in homes is between 30% and 50%. Consider adding a dehumidifier to your home to help keep humidity levels lower. Your air conditioner may also act to dehumidify your home, so be careful you’re not removing too much moisture.
Ensuring Proper Ventilation
Many of the pollutants affecting your air quality come from inside your home. That means that understanding how to ventilate your home properly will help you control those contaminants.
When most people think about ventilation, they think of their bathroom, kitchen and windows. The bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans certainly help control humidity from showering and cooking.
However, if your home is tightly sealed, then it’ll need extra assistance circulating in the fresh air and pushing out the old air. Air ventilators provide that extra assistance to ensure your home has a constant flow of fresh air.
Recovery ventilators also precondition that incoming air by transferring the heat from the exhaust air. This preconditioning further reduces the energy needed to heat your home.
Scheduling Regular HVAC Maintenance
Your vents and HVAC system collect contaminants throughout the year. As your system circulates air, it picks up some of those pollutants and puts them back into the air.
The best way to combat this is to perform regular system maintenance. This includes heating and air conditioning tune-ups in the fall and spring. During these visits, a service technician will clean key areas of your system that are prone to collecting these pollutants.
Your air ducts are also a key place that collects all kinds of pollutants. You should consider having your ducts cleaned every two to three years or after any major renovation project.
Take the time to improve your home’s air quality. Call to schedule your indoor air quality consultation with Custom Air & Plumbing today.
Image provided by iStock