Your home’s air is full of dust and other contaminants. They get into your home, triggering allergies and asthma. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate those contaminants, particularly if you’re running your A/C.
Here are a few tips for using your HVAC system to improve indoor air quality.
Change your air filter.
In addition to cooling the air, your HVAC system also filters out dust and other particles before circulating it through your home. Over time, though, the filter becomes clogged. Not only does this prevent it from cleaning your air, it also restricts airflow, wasting energy and wearing out your system. Check your air filter once a month and replace it every three to six months, to keep your air clean and your system working at peak efficiency.
Clean the condenser coil.
Another factor in lowering indoor air quality is humidity. Your HVAC system dehumidifies the air as it cools, but if dirt and grime are allowed to build up on the outdoor unit’s condenser coil, it can interfere with the dehumidifying process. The moisture in the air can then foster mold and bacteria. You can clean your condenser coil yourself using a brush and a hose, …
A fresh coat of paint can quickly breathe new life into your home’s interior. Make sure you aren’t compromising your health in the process, however. Indoor air quality suffers if you don’t take the right safety steps. Here are ways to diminish IAQ concerns when painting interior surfaces.
Use the Safest Paints
Many types of paint include harmful chemicals, called volatile organic chemicals or VOCs. These can have a direct impact on health. When painting the interior, only choose paints that are intended for indoor use and, whenever possible, use paints that are labeled no or low VOCs.
Keep in mind, however, that even the safest paints can emit some harmful chemicals during their application and afterward. You can diminish the impact by ventilating your home.
Ventilating the home while painting can be as simple as opening exterior doors and placing a box fan in a window. The goal is to bring in as much fresh air into the home as you can while drawing the harmful elements outside. Make sure you aren’t just recirculating the bad air throughout other rooms in the home. …
It’s been long established that smoking indoors quickly degrades indoor air quality, but for now, the research doesn’t indicate that electronic cigarettes have the same ill effects.
What Are E-Cigarettes?
When someone “smokes” these cigarettes, it produces a smoke-like vapor, which is why their use is commonly called vaping. The e-cigarettes use a battery to heat a liquid that contains nicotine to the point where it produces a steam-like vapor. The nicotine inside the cigarette is part of the vaping liquid and it’s part of what users inhale.
Their byproducts have been the subject of a few studies to see what effects they have on air quality. Findings from a study conducted in Maryland that measured the changes in air quality in a crowded, small room without adequate ventilation. The participants were all vaping and the air quality did deteriorate.
The byproducts of vaping include VOCs (volatile organic compounds), nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide, particulate matter and nicotine. Each of these emissions was high enough to affect the health of participants.
If the air quality in your home tends to suffer in the summer when the doors and windows are closed, consider putting UV (ultraviolet) lights in the ductwork or air handler to improve it. They’re silent, energy efficient, simple to maintain and take up virtually no space.
These lights provide the same spectrum of sunshine that sanitizes organic compounds. They work by altering the DNA of organic compounds, which prevents them from reproducing. Any virus or bacteria that comes into contact with the UV rays the lights emit won’t be able to replicate itself.
The lights also solve many of the problems associated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are gases from ordinary household cleaners, vehicle exhaust, remodeling products, perfumed candles, air fresheners and soap, as well as a host of other products also made from hydrocarbons. The VOCs are known to cause everything from minor irritations to major health problems like cancer and organ damage.
How They Work
Since UV rays damage eyesight, the lights go inside the HVAC system where they’re hidden but very effective for improving air quality. High volumes of your home’s air pass over the lights and when the organic particles pass by …
The air in the average home is typically far more polluted than the air outside. And in winter, things are particularly bad. Poor IAQ can exacerbate allergies and asthma, facilitate illnesses like cold and flu, and more. Here are some reasons why your air quality goes down in winter, and a few things you can do about it.
Problems With Your Winter Air
Your winter indoor air quality suffers for a number of reasons. The first is a lack of ventilation. In winter, your house is sealed up tight, to keep warm air in and cold air out. If outside air can’t come in, the same contaminants keep getting cycled through your HVAC system again and again, increasing as the season progresses.
There are other factors affecting your IAQ as well. If you have a gas-burning furnace, you have carbon monoxide fumes to add to the pollution. And finally, there’s the issue of humidity. The air typically gets dryer in winter. And running your furnace dehumidifies it even further. When the humidity level gets below about 30 percent, it fosters viruses and other contaminants.
Improving Your Winter Indoor Air Quality