Most of us spend a large amount of time in our homes. Home is meant to be a place where we can relax and feel safe, but poor air quality can pose serious health issues. It’s important to be aware of the signs, risk factors, and potential solutions for low-quality air, so your house can remain a healthy environment throughout the year.
Common Sources of Air Pollution
Air pollution in the home comes from many everyday sources. These include:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Mold and mildew
- Smoke from candles, fireplaces, or cigarettes
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in cleaning products, paints, pesticides, and other household items
Even if you don’t smoke or have any pets, you could still be suffering from poor air quality. It’s important to consider all potential sources of indoor pollution when evaluating your home.
How Indoor Air Pollutants Affect Your Health
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are a variety of health effects from indoor air pollution ranging from mild to severe. These include:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Respiratory diseases
- Heart disease
More severe forms of pollution can cause long-term health effects and can even be fatal. For example, radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and high levels of carbon monoxide in your home can cause death.
Signs of Poor Air Quality in Your Home
By now you might be wondering about the sanitization and quality of your own home’s air. Here are some common signs that a house has poor indoor air quality:
- High or low humidity levels
- Uneven heating throughout the home
- Lingering odors
- Excessive dust
- Worsening allergies
- Frequent illness
Indoor Air Quality Testing
There are indoor air quality monitors that you can purchase and install in your home. This type of device will constantly assess your air quality by testing levels of particulate matter, humidity, temperature, and chemical pollutants (including VOCs).
While self-installed monitors are great for tracking day-to-day air quality, it is recommended to call a professional if your monitor detects a problem, or if you experience any of the signs of polluted air listed above. Not only can an HVAC technician test your home’s air quality and pinpoint causes of pollution, but they can also provide recommendations for improving air quality throughout your home.
It’s also a good idea to get your home tested for radon, especially if you live in an area with high radon levels. Installing carbon monoxide detectors is another important precautionary measure.
Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
There are some things you can do yourself to improve your air quality, such as regularly cleaning your home, keeping your pets groomed, and replacing your AC filters as needed. But for more advanced measures like installing an air purifier or humidification system, you may want to hire an HVAC technician who is certified as a Healthy Air Expert.
Do Air Purifiers Work?
Air purifiers clean your indoor air by trapping pollutants in filters. Their effectiveness varies by type and model. The smaller the micron levels, the more effective the filter. A typical range is 0.1 micron to 1 micron. For the most effective particulate reduction, you’ll want to invest in a purifier that can trap even the smallest particles. It’s also recommended that you clean and/or replace your unit’s filters regularly, because dirty air filters are less effective than clean ones.
For optimal indoor air quality, you’ll need a purification system that can both filter and sanitize the air you breathe. There are now air purifiers capable of eliminating viruses and bacteria. For example, tests performed by the University of Colorado found that the Carrier Infinity air purifier with Captures & Kills technology inactivates the COVID-19 virus.
Finding the Right Air Purifier for Your Home
There are generally two types of air purifiers:
- Stand-alone units that can be placed in an individual room.
- Systems that will purify your entire home.
The second type needs to be installed by HVAC professionals.
There are a variety of factors to consider when shopping for an air purifier. You want to make sure you buy a model with reputable certifications such as the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers’ AHAM Verifide seal. Some other things to look for include:
- Recommended room size (if using a single room purifier)
- Clean air delivery rate (CADR) – higher CADRs indicate better performance
- Energy efficiency
Concerned About Your Home’s Air Quality?
If you’re experiencing poor air quality and would like professional assistance, contact RSC Heating and Air Conditioning. Our experts provide comprehensive air quality solutions, including humidification or dehumidification, particulate reduction, and ventilation. We will evaluate your home’s air quality and determine the best solution for your family.