How much time do you spend thinking about the quality of the air you breathe on a daily basis? If you’re anything like most people, you probably don’t think twice about breathing in the air unless you smell something particularly unpleasant. This is a gift that most of us take for granted on a regular basis, but we should really be a lot more concerned about our overall indoor air quality.
The quality of your indoor air is a major contributing factor for your overall health. The air is filled with contaminants, allergens, bacteria, and other microscopic particles that can have a serious impact on your immune system. Individuals who suffer from asthma or intense allergies are likely to feel this impact much more keenly.
What can it look like if you breathe in poor quality air on a regular basis? Many of the usual symptoms look a lot like the common cold or the flu virus. You may experience a stuffy nose, sore throat, chest congestion, or a cough. Headaches are relatively common, along with dizziness and overall fatigue.
If you’ve been sick with any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time with no explanation, you could be suffering from poor indoor air quality. You may be able to improve your symptoms with the help of these four relatively simple tricks today.
Change your air filter
Changing your air filter may seem like a rather basic place to start, but it can have a dramatic impact on the number of contaminants in your indoor air. Many manufacturers will recommend replacing air filters every thirty to ninety days. For certain types of households (including those with pets), you may actually need to change these filters every thirty days no matter what.
When you purchase a new air filter, look for a medium efficiency filter with lots of pleats. These offer a budget-friendly way to pull some of the most common allergens from the air. A filter in this category will have a minimum efficiency report value (MERV) rating between six and thirteen, demonstrating that it is efficient at pulling harmful particles from the air without causing a major pressure drop to your system.
Avoid the most inexpensive flat-panel fiberglass air filters that are designed only to filter out the biggest debris and particles. These won’t help to alleviate your allergy symptoms or improve your indoor air quality.
When your air filter is dirty, it lowers the efficiency of your HVAC system and continues to allow allergens to circulate through your air. This is probably the fastest and most cost-effective way to start improving indoor air quality. Changing the air filter also has the added bonus of lowering the monthly costs of your heating and cooling bills.
Clean the ductwork
Maybe you saw an advertisement on a local deals page or your HVAC technician mentioned it during your yearly maintenance appointment. Cleaning your ductwork isn’t something that most homeowners think about on a regular basis, but it may help to alleviate some of your more uncomfortable symptoms.
The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t go so far as to say that cleaning the ductwork is directly correlated with improved air quality. However, many homeowners anecdotally share that they had significant improvement in their symptoms directly following their cleaning. The logic behind this makes perfect sense.
Consider how much dust and how many allergens collect in the ductwork of your home over a long period of time. You’re never able to reach inside and fully clean out this area, which means these particles continue to get circulated throughout the air. It causes your HVAC system to run less efficiently and promotes the continual circulation of dust and bacteria into your home.
This can be especially true if you have any mold or mildew growth located on the inside of your ductwork. Prolonged exposure to mold spores can have a drastic impact on your physical health. You will need to find the cause of the growth before it is cleaned to prevent regrowth.
Be certain to hire a qualified professional to clean your ductwork for you. This is a labor-intensive task that is best left to the professionals who have the proper equipment to manage such a project.
Maintain the right humidity levels
Does your house often feel warm and muggy? This damp feeling is likely the result of high humidity levels which can make your home feel uncomfortably warm. Most homeowners don’t particularly strive to keep a moist and humid home, but they may not realize the full danger of it. Unfortunately, a humid space is the perfect breeding ground for lots of unwanted guests.
Perhaps the most pressing concern for a home with high moisture is the potential for rapid mold growth. You may start to notice an unpleasant or musty odor penetrating your home, regardless of how many cleaning products you use daily. It can be tempting to explain away the stench, but you should be aware that mold could be thriving in a moist environment.
Take this not-so-subtle sign as a cue to start looking for mold around the home. You may find it in areas that are particularly prone to condensation, such as near windows or doors. Alternatively, you may want to take a quick peek into your ductwork to determine if any growth is present.
Mold isn’t the only thing that thrives with high humidity. Dust mites and other bacteria can live much longer and reproduce more frequently under these conditions. Allergy sufferers may experience some severe symptoms when faced with the increase of these contaminants in the air.
Maintain humidity levels between thirty and fifty percent inside your home to boost your indoor air quality. This will give you a fighting chance against some of the harmful things that can grow under moister conditions.
Ensure your home has plenty of ventilation
There’s nothing worse than being trapped inside a home with strong chemical fumes and plenty of allergens. Consistent exposure to these strong odors isn’t just unpleasant; it can also be extremely dangerous. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can lead to severe side effects including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
The contaminants from these chemicals can build up in your ductwork and in your air filters. As fresh air circulates from the outdoors into your home through the HVAC system, it’s continuously exposed to this chemical buildup. The proper ventilation system could help to prevent that buildup in the first place.
You may find it necessary to install a whole-house ventilation system with the assistance of a local air conditioning company. A well-placed exhaust fan near the kitchen or the bathrooms could alleviate many of the more common issues from air pollutants. In order to make the best use of some of these systems, you should consider which areas of your home are most often exposed to air contaminants.
If you don’t feel like you need ventilation systems installed, you may want to opt for more cost-effective solutions such as opening the windows when the weather permits. This is a great way to allow fresh air to enter while you’re working with fumes. Be careful that you don’t open the windows during times where outdoor allergens may be high. This could interfere with any seasonal allergies you may have.
Overall, your indoor air quality is extremely important for your health and wellbeing. You’ll be able to function and think more clearly when the air you breathe is as pure as possible. There are certainly some more drastic ways to improve the overall quality of the air inside your home, but these four simple steps are a cost-effective way to get started.
If you have questions about further steps you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home or business, be sure to contact Classic Air Conditioning and Heating today. We would love to talk to you about what systems and changes could be made to make your life a little healthier!