How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Are you waking up in the morning to find you are congested? Do you wake up night after night coughing? The issue is not always sickness in the traditional sense. You may have “dirty” air, it is important to take this in the correct context. 

The air quality in your home is affected by many factors. Anything from pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold spores can spoil the air in your home. Many of these potential issues can be very detrimental to your health as well.

As we mentioned before, there are a lot of aspects to maintaining the air quality in your home. In addition to air pollutants, the air quality is also affected by things like humidity and temperature. The indoor air quality (IAQ) is really just a term to define the characteristics of a comfortable home. The temperature of your home is the first and easiest thing to contend with where it concerns IAQ. Simply adjusting the thermostat of your heating or cooling system to a comfortable level will be a big step in the right direction.
The second variable in your home's IAQ is the humidity level. There are certain things to take into account when considering humidity. A simple chart will help determine what the humidity should be to maintain comfort levels.

Outside Temp Humidity Level

+40 F-------------------------45%

+30 F-------------------------40%

+20 F-------------------------35%

+10 F-------------------------30%

0 F-----------------------------25%

-10 F--------------------------20%

-20 F--------------------------15%

It is important to remember never to take the humidity above 50%. At that level or above, the microbial growth in your home is going to explode. This will make it much more likely that you or a member of your family could become sick. It will also lead to much higher levels of mold spores. Mold requires a high moisture level to grow. If you remove the moisture using a dehumidifier, you will prevent further mold growth.

So now that you know what the humidity levels should be at in relation to the outside air temperature, it is time to talk about how to achieve those levels. The first thing you need to do is to determine the current humidity in your home. This can be done through the use of a meter that can be purchased at most local home improvement stores. Once you have determined whether the humidity level in your home is too high or too low, it is time to correct the issue. 

The simplest way is going to be to use a humidifier or dehumidifier to respectively raise or lower the humidity level in your home. These types of machines work by removing water vapor in condensing it back into a liquid that is collected, or by using heat to reintroduce water vapor into the air.

The last variable in your IAQ is foreign pollutants in the air you are breathing. Most people think of pollutants as smog and chemical waste; however, the air in your home could be extremely polluted even if it seems clean. Pollutants in your home are tiny particles that consist of dust, pollen, pet dander, chemicals (normally in the form of gases), and even some microorganisms. Further, the waste left behind by insects such as dust mites and houseflies add to the already staggering list of pollutants in your home. 

All of these tiny particles add to what is known as “sick building syndrome.” This can have adverse health effects on you and your family just like mold spores. The symptoms of exposure to a sick building include eye, nose, and throat irritation, allergic reactions, rashes, headaches, and difficulty breathing. Further, prolonged exposure can lead to more serious conditions such as cancer and respiratory disease.

That poses the question of how you eliminate these threats in your home? There is good and bad news, the bad being that it is going to take time and effort on your part. The good news is that in almost all cases, the issues can be corrected and reversed.

The most common harmful gas found in homes is radon. Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into your home through the foundation. It is created when uranium decays over time. Uranium is found in all soil and rocks but the levels vary based on geographic location. The gas is found everywhere in concentrations ranging from .4piCl/l to 1.3piCl/l. If the level in your home reaches 4piCl/l, it is recommended that steps be taken to lower that level. 

The most common way to lower the level is to simply seal the cracks and holes in your foundation where the gas is most likely seeping in. Also, you can have a Milwaukee HVAC professional install a ventilation system designed to remove radon from the soil around and under your foundation, as well as perform duct cleaning to further remove pollutants.

Other common pollutants in the home are volatile organic compounds. The origin of such chemicals are typically paint, cleaning supplies, building materials, some furniture and various aerosols such as hair care products and air fresheners. The “new home smell” that many people rave about often comes from these types of pollutants, and as such is really nothing that you should be happy about. An important step in new home construction is venting the home before the occupants take up residence.

The most common way to eliminate these compounds in your home is through the use of air cleaning, or UV air purification. Electronic air filters work by using charged particles (often on metal fins) to trap particles as they pass through the purifier. It is important to remember though, that source control is often the easiest, cheapest and most effective way of controlling these pollutants. If you are having an issue, your best bet is to identify the source and remove it.

If that cannot be done, or you cannot locate the source of the pollution, there are methods that you can use to remove them. There are many products on the market designed to remove foreign particles and odors (normally caused by gases) from your home. A trip to the local home improvement store will yield plenty of options.

If you do not want to spend a lot of money, there are other options as well. Improving the ventilation in your home will go a long way towards increasing your IAQ. If your home is not ventilated well, over time pollutants will build up at high enough levels even harmless pollutants can begin to cause irritation. The installation of bath fans and exhaust fans around cooking areas will go a long way towards rectifying your air quality issues. These can be installed by a licensed contractor for a relatively reasonable amount of money. Some of the high-end ventilation solutions even offer automatic timers to make the ventilation of your home low maintenance. These fans will ventilate excess pollutants and moisture from your home.

There are other options as well. An HVAC system with proper air filtration is one avenue to consider. Mechanical filters such as activated charcoal are the best option when considering this method. One final method to consider would be an ion generator. These machines work by producing ozone. Ozone is the base of all the air around us, and producing it in your home will not only help to counteract the effects of air born pollutants, it will also help remove odors, effectively increasing the IAQ of your home.

Need Professional Duct Cleaning to Improve Air Quality? Call 262-955-7909 for Fast Service

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