All of this increased time at home means a bigger focus on indoor air quality (IAQ). According to the EPA, indoor air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. (https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality#note2) As economies reopen and many of us go back to work, don’t forget about the importance of indoor air quality. Better IAQ means a healthier home! We have compiled our Top 10 sources and solutions for IAQ issues.
While you have been spending more time at home, have you noticed any of the following symptoms of poor indoor air quality?
- Allergy symptoms such as irritated eyes, nose, throat, and sneezing
- Difficulty breathing/Asthma
- Sick building syndrome symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, dizziness
- Unpleasant odors
If you have noticed any of these, you should take a closer look at what factors are contributing to indoor air pollution.
Here are the top 10 major culprits (in no particular order):
- Dust – dirt, mites, skin cells
- Animal hair and dander
- Humidity (which can lead to mold/mildew)
- Combustible gas appliances (gas stove, furnace, water heater)
- Chemicals near your HVAC return or air handler
- Scented products including air “fresheners” and candles and scented cleaning products (that “clean” smell)
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds often referred to as “new” smell) found in carpets, furniture, paints, etc.
- Lead paint and asbestos (if disturbed)
- Smoke – tobacco or wood fires
And here are our top 10 ways to address indoor air quality issues:
- Vacuum regularly – especially rugs and carpets.
- Change/check HVAC air filters (and any other appliances with filters such as vacuums or kitchen hood/vent or an ERV or HRV (energy recovery ventilator or heat recovery ventilator)).
- Use kitchen hood/vent when cooking to extract CO and moisture and odors and run bath fans to remove humidity and odors during and after showering and when using the bathroom.
- Consider a dehumidifier – to address moisture issues and help keep relative humidity levels below 65%.
- Have your HVAC system and combustible appliances serviced and inspected to ensure they are clean and venting properly.
- Move paints, gasoline, etc. AWAY from air handlers. (HVAC systems can suck those odors into the system and distribute them throughout the home.) (Plus, those flammable items should be nowhere near the combustible appliance from a fire hazard perspective.)
- Eliminate the use of air fresheners and scented cleaners and minimize candle use.
- Allow new carpets, furniture, painted rooms or items, etc. to air out until that “new smell” has dissipated.
- Leave anything you suspect could have lead paint or asbestos alone! Call in a lead paint or asbestos remediation company if in doubt.
- Keep smoking outdoors and minimize wood burning fires (and open a window if you decide to have a fire).
And a bonus…
- Remove shoes upon/before entering your home to avoid bringing in outdoor pollutants inside.
A properly air sealed and ventilated home along with adjustments to occupant behavior can make a huge improvement in your indoor air quality. And better indoor air quality means healthier indoor environment for you and other occupants.
For more information on a healthier home and better indoor air quality, contact us today!
Eco Three is a trusted, leading-edge home energy authority dedicated to helping homeowners in Alabama through our comprehensive home energy audits and energy-efficient upgrades. Our nationally accredited team of hometown experts uses the latest technology to provide actionable solutions to outrageous energy bills and home comfort issues. We’re not a franchise – we’re an experienced group of people with a unique plan and a sincere interest in making a difference in people’s lives and the environment. We service existing homes as well as new construction.