Smoke, smog, pollen and more – it all affects our outdoor air quality. But did you realize that your indoor air quality could be even worse? In this article, we’ll cover some of the common pollutants and solutions that will help you improve your indoor air quality.
Common Air Pollutants
The first step to improving your indoor air quality is to understand what are the sources of common air pollutants here in Florida. There are different approaches to tackling each one, so start with the one that might be causing you the most issues.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
These are potentially harmful gasses emitted into the air by various products or processes. Sources of VOCs include paint, adhesives, certain cleaning products, and even in new furnishings like carpets and composite woods. VOCs aren’t a single harmful chemical, but rather a class of chemical, so while some can be fairly serious, others don’t carry significant health risks.
Reducing VOCs can be difficult, but switching to eco-friendly products and restricting harsh chemicals to well-ventilated areas can combat poor indoor air quality.
Dust and Allergens
Sources of allergens include pet dander, pollen, and dust mites that might accumulate in indoor spaces. These can cause people with allergies or asthma to have difficulty breathing or to get irritated, watery eyes and other symptoms. Keeping the house clean and investing in a good air purifier can reduce indoor allergens.
Mold and Moisture
Poorly ventilated bathrooms and kitchens, leaky pipes, damaged roofs, and even indoor plants can be sources of mold in the home. Spores produced by mold can cause respiratory problems over time, so it’s important to keep on top of mold by removing sources of excess moisture, improving ventilation, and using a dehumidifier where necessary.
Cooking can produce fumes, carbon monoxide, and airborne particulate matter – especially when using a gas stove. Your cooking area should be well-ventilated, and ranges over gas stoves should always be vented outside.
Maintain Your AC System
Regular AC maintenance in Gainesville and Jacksonville is a must-have. After controlling the sources of air pollutants in your home, it’s your air quality’s best line of defense. Here are some of the things to take care of routinely.
Change Your Air Filters
Air filters regularly need to be replaced (about every 1-2 months) to keep your system running smoothly and to reduce energy consumption by up to 15%. Not only that, your air filters will be able to trap common household pollutants more effectively when they’re not bogged down.
Clean Your Air Ducts
While it’s normal for homes to have a small amount of dust and debris inside the air ducts, a large buildup of dust can affect the performance of the system. This buildup can impact the HVAC system’s ability to filter pollutants effectively. Ducts can sometimes even be the source of mold or mildew in the system, so it’s a good idea to periodically check them, especially after storm damage, construction, or a rodent/bug infestation.
If you notice a buildup of dust or debris or a deterioration of the duct seals it’s best to get in touch with a professional duct cleaning service.
Check Coils, Drains, and Components
Maintaining the health of your overall AC system will help its ability to run efficiently and filter out potentially harmful substances. Leaky parts or ineffective drainage can contribute to household mold and mildew.
We recommend getting your HVAC system seen by a professional at least once per year to ensure everything is working as it should and there are no underlying issues which might negatively affect your home’s air quality.
Improve Your Ventilation
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the introduction of outdoor air is a key way to reduce or dilute air pollution coming from indoor sources and promote overall air quality. You’ll need to use your best judgment as to whether this is the right solution when there are sources of outdoor air pollution such as allergens, smoke, or refuse nearby.
While some HVAC systems are able to mechanically bring outdoor air into the home, most do not. Instead, look for ways of using natural ventilation to bring in outdoor air. This includes opening doors and windows (weather permitting), and making use of window, attic, bathroom, and kitchen fans.
Allergies or the weather can mean that it’s not always practical to introduce outdoor air into the system. In this case, you might want to invest in an air cleaner, air purifier, or other air quality products to help.
Keep it Clean
Finally, keeping your home clean can go a long way to improving your overall air quality. Here are a few places to focus on when cleaning for air quality:
- Carpets and rugs
- Curtains and drapes
- Soft furnishings
- Forgotten corners and hard-to-reach areas
- Pet beds
Fabric in general acts as an air filter, trapping particles within its fibers. Regularly changing bedding and vacuuming rugs and carpets can be a huge help. Carpets are generally harder to keep clear of pollutants than tile, laminate, or hardwood flooring, so consider how easy a surface is to keep clean during your next home renovation.
Maintaining great indoor air quality requires careful attention to sources of pollutants, good AC maintenance, ventilation where possible, and regular cleaning. If you need assistance with installing, replacing, or maintaining your AC/HVAC system, we offer residential and commercial AC services in the Gainesville and Jacksonville area, and we’d be happy to help.