The air quality in your home is extremely important because it can affect you and your family’s comfort - and health. After all, we spend most of our time indoors, which can be a concern when the air inside our homes is 2-5 times more harmful than the air outside.
So how can you ensure that the air inside your home is as clean as possible and doesn’t pose a health risk to you and your family? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that will provide some peace of mind.
Frequently Asked Questions About Indoor Air Quality
What Can Affect Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) can be impacted by temperature, humidity, poor ventilation, particulates such as mold spores and bacteria, and chemicals and gases, among other factors.
How Common Are Indoor Air Quality Issues?
Surprisingly, more than 90% of tested homes in North America have at least one indoor air quality issue. And more than 80% of those homes have elevated levels of dust, pollen, or viruses. In addition, more than 70% contained potentially harmful chemicals or gases.
How Does Outdoor Air Quality Affect Indoor Air Quality?
Outdoor pollutants can typically be substantially reduced (as much as 90%) due to absorption and a properly maintained ventilation filtration system. That’s why it’s important to regularly service and clean your HVAC system so that it performs at a high level.
Will the Air in Your Home Be OK, if You Clean Every Day?
Unfortunately, no. Over the course of a year, a 1,500 square-foot home can collect a staggering amount of dust—40 pounds, in fact. Even if you thoroughly clean your home on a regular basis, you can’t remove all of the dust and allergens. And, of course, there are certain pollutants and allergens that can’t be eliminated by cleaning by hand.
How Serious Can Indoor Air Quality Issues Be?
Pet dander, pollen, bacteria, and airborne viruses can be detrimental to individuals who have breathing problems, particularly those with asthma. Also, if your home uses natural gas or oil, you should make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors to monitor the levels in your home.
More seriously, some chemicals found in cleaning and other household products can cause eye and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and severe respiratory problems. In addition, although radon is not as prevalent in the Tampa area as it is in other parts of the country, you should have your home tested because long-term exposure can cause lung cancer.
How Concerned Should You Be About Moisture in Your Home?
As mentioned, mold can be one of the leading factors that affect indoor air quality, particularly in Florida, where it’s almost always humid. Excess moisture can lead to the growth of mold, which can make it more difficult to breathe. Long-term exposure can lead to lung or brain damage and even cancer.
Poor ventilation can compound the issue because proper air circulation is necessary to reduce moisture in the air. If the air in your home seems stuffy or you see condensation on your home’s walls or windows, you likely have a ventilation issue. Having your HVAC system serviced once a year can help ensure that you won’t have excess moisture in your home.
Is It a Good Idea to Naturally Ventilate Your Home?
Natural ventilation can be a good idea during portions of the fall and spring when humidity levels are lower in Florida. However, if the humidity is above 70% for long periods of time, it’s best not to keep your windows open because you could get mold growth in areas of your home where there’s not much ventilation, such as closets.
What Should Humidity and Temperature Levels Be Inside Your Home?
You should keep relative humidity levels in your home below 70%. In fact, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), recommends that healthy humidity levels in your home should be somewhere between 30-60%. In the interest of curtailing mold levels in your home, you should keep the temperature no higher than 68°F during the winter and no lower than 78°F during the summer.
How Common Is Formaldehyde in Homes?
You may be surprised to hear that some level of formaldehyde is typically found in homes. Manufactured wood products, including particle board, fiberboard, plywood, and oriented strand board, often contain formaldehyde. In addition, some paints, fabrics, insulation materials, and even cooking materials may be partially composed of the organic compound.
Not only can formaldehyde irritate your eyes, nose, skin, and throat, but it also has been tied to asthma and other respiratory problems. Typically, however, formaldehyde levels have to be pretty high before causing these health problems.
What Steps Can You Take to Improve Your Home’s Air Quality?
There are a number of simple things you can do around your home on a daily basis to help reduce pollutants. Beyond making sure your home is ventilated properly, and humidity levels are in a healthy range, you should:
- Clean and vacuum at least once a week. And keep your home free from bugs.
- Speaking of which, if you have to use pesticides, follow the directions on the label and don’t overuse them.
- Routinely wash bedding and stuffed toys.
- Try to avoid using air fresheners and scented deodorizers, which may contain toxic chemicals.
- If possible, use biodegradable cleaning supplies. If you’re going to use chemical-based household cleaners or paint solvents, keep those products tightly sealed. And if possible, keep them outside.
- Always keep your windows closed when humidity, pollution, and pollen levels are elevated.
- When purchasing furnishings, try to ensure that they give off low amounts of chemical vapors or are eco-friendly.
- Ensure that all gas appliances are properly ventilated.
- Only allow smoking outside.
In addition to what was mentioned above, there are a number of other things you can do to reduce allergens in your home.
What’s the Best Way to Keep Your Home’s Air Clean?
You should routinely check your HVAC system’s air filter and replace appropriately with a single-use filter that’s compatible with your system. A good rule of thumb is at least every 90 days if you don’t have a pet and at least every 60 days if you do. In fact, if you have more than one pet or suffer from allergies, you should replace your air filter every 30 days.
In addition, you should consider having your air ducts cleaned every few years. Leaky ductwork in your attic or crawl space can also suck dusty air from those spots into your living area. If this is the case, Easy AC can professionally seal your ductwork to reduce the amount of dust in your home greatly.
You can also have a high-efficiency air filtration system installed in your home, which can work in conjunction with your HVAC system to ensure that the air in your home is cleaner. Easy AC offers air cell systems, which are purifiers that greatly reduce mold and other airborne and surface pollutants.
Regularly maintaining your HVAC system can go a long way in ensuring that the air quality in your home is at healthy levels. However, as you can see, there are many other things you can do on a daily basis to reduce pollutants in your home.
Whether you’re looking for routine HVAC maintenance service, duct cleaning, or want to upgrade to a system that purifies your home’s air, our expert HVAC professionals are here to help. So give us a call at 813-265-3247 to make an appointment. And keep in mind that we offer affordable financing to those who qualify.