Air pollution is an issue that impacts both your indoor and outdoor air. Inhaling excessive particulates and pollutants can harm your respiratory health and leave you with perpetual cold symptoms. Common contaminants are often categorized as biological, physical or chemical. While ambient or outdoor air quality has been monitored for years, the importance of indoor air quality has recently become a major debate. Here’s what you need to know to keep your family safe from indoor and outdoor air quality issues.
Common Outdoor Pollutants
Your outdoor air typically has more fluidity than the air trapped within your home. This makes it easier for chemicals and gases to travel into your region from nearby industrial zones or cities. One of the most common factors that impact your outdoor air is ozone. Exposure to this naturally occurring and human-made pollutant can leave you struggling with shortness of breath or wheezing. Long-term exposure may result in chronic respiratory or nervous system disorders.
Sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are harmful gases released from burning fossil fuels. These natural fuels like coal, gas or oil are used to power cars, factories, businesses and more. You may also release these admissions when you power up your gas-based lawn mower or natural gas heating system. Breathing in the fumes released from these appliances can leave you light-headed, nauseated or confused.
The last major contributor to your local outdoor air quality is particulate matter. This refers to the microscopic liquid or solid debris that worsens your allergies and health. Particulate matter can include nitrates, sulfates, pollen, dust, mold spores, ammonia and soot. When these contaminants get caught on your clothes and belongings, you may inadvertently bring them inside. Certain seasons like spring tend to have more airborne matter due to local flora releasing pollen.
Potential Indoor Pollutants
Inside your home, you can struggle with asbestos, lead or formaldehyde. These materials can typically be found in your insulation, pipes or pressed wood products. Radon is an odorless radioactive gas that may seep up from underground through cracks in your foundation or basement floor. The primary indoor sources of nitrogen dioxide include tobacco smoke or gas-burning appliances like fireplaces.
Many homes struggle with excessive volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are human-made chemical byproducts that come from using aerosols, household cleaners, paint thinners, candles or cosmetic products. Cooking or smoking inside without effective ventilation can also allow pollutants and unpleasant smells to build up. Regardless of where your home is located, your indoor environment could be several times more polluted than your outdoor air.
Other indoor airborne irritants to remember include biological debris, carbon monoxide, particulate matter and pesticides. Opening your windows and doors lets in pollutants from outside the home. A lack of air filtration can allow this debris to accumulate to unsafe levels. In extreme cases, you may experience sick-building syndrome (SBS). This occurs when you or your loved ones struggle with certain symptoms like sneezing, coughing or fatigue only when spending time in your home.
Ways to Boost Air Quality
Modern homes can maintain excellent energy efficiency due to how well they’re insulated from the outside world. While this efficiency ensures your heating and cooling systems function well, it also leaves you at risk of unsafe air quality. Start boosting your indoor air quality today by considering these helpful home tips.
Use Better Air Filters
One of your home’s first lines of defense against poor air quality is your HVAC filter. The most popular options are the standard blue fiberglass or pleated materials. Rather than using the inexpensive and greatly ineffective fiberglass varieties, upgrade to a model that better suits your household. Pleated filters can last up to three months and are better equipped to tackle pollen, dust and pet hair. The type of filter you use doesn’t matter as much as its minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. Aim for air filters in the 8 to 12 range for optimum air quality.
Improve Your Daily Habits
Your family’s daily routines directly impact the quality of your breathing air. To keep your air clean, limit your use of strong chemicals or household cleaners. Always ventilate when cleaning and avoid mixing any harsh substances. If you own pets, strive to more frequently vacuum and replace your filters. Combing out your pet regularly can also limit the amount of hair that spreads around your home. Don’t forget to invest in HVAC maintenance and ductwork care. Keeping these systems in good condition will boost your air quality and decrease your monthly energy consumption.
Consider a Ventilation System
Ventilation systems work by pulling out the old air in your home to make room for fresh air. These energy-efficient exhaust systems also offer great cooling benefits in the summer. Bringing new air inside will lower the risk of harmful pollutant accumulation. You’ll also have an easier time monitoring your humidity level and limiting lingering smells.
Monitor Daily Air Quality Index
On warmer days, you may be tempted to open your windows to refresh your home. While this can be somewhat beneficial, it may also introduce new contaminants into your living spaces. You should always check your local air quality index before pulling in outdoor air. When using your ventilation system, keep your HVAC system’s fan on to filter out new contaminants. Watching the index will also let you know when there’s more pollen in the air outside, which will help you prevent tracking it inside.
Schedule Duct Cleaning
Hair, dust, soot and other debris can slowly accumulate in your ductwork over time. These contaminants will build up to a point where they impact HVAC airflow and your home’s cleanliness. Ideally, it’s recommended to schedule a professional duct cleaning every three to five years. This service involves examining and vacuuming out all the dirt from inside your ducts. Your technician will also be able to let you know of any air leaks, pest problems or fungal growth.
Invest in Air Purification
Guarantee your year-round air quality control with a whole-home purification system. These devices attach to your existing HVAC system and will kick on during the normal heating or cooling process. They neutralize odors and eliminate common home allergens. Some models are even capable of tackling VOCs, smoke and various gases like carbon monoxide. Working with an expert can help you find the ideal air-quality-boosting system whether you need germicidal lights, ion filters or high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filters.
Your Heating and Cooling Experts
Summit Heating & A/C has received hundreds of five-star reviews for our heating and cooling services in Denver, CO. Our team is proud to have 80 years of experience loyally serving our community. We offer reasonable prices, flexible financing options on approved credit and premium quality guarantees. Our NATE-certified specialists can replace or repair your heat pump, mini-split, furnace or AC. We also promise superior plumbing services like pipe, drain and sewer repair and water heater installation. You don’t want to miss out on exploring our industry-leading air purifiers and filtration options. Schedule your HVAC service appointment with Summit Heating & A/C in Denver now.