Your home is designed and built to be energy efficient; retain heat during winter and releasing heat in the summer. Many homeowners will take extra steps to try to improve efficiency such as sealing cracks in the insulation and reduce or eliminate cold drafts. These steps may cause poor air quality in the home by allowing allergens and pollutants to build up in the home because there isn’t enough fresh air moving through the house.
Sources of Pollution in the Home
There are various sources of pollutants in your home. Finding out where the greatest concentration of pollutants are building up may give you opportunities to reduce or eliminate them without significant cost or time:
- Combustible chemicals: these include oil, gas, kerosene, wood and any items that utilize these forms of fuel. Control their location, and you can better control the emission of these pollutanting chemicals.
- Construction materials: including insulation, unlaid carpets, cabinets waiting to be installed and pressed wood furniture. You wouldn’t think these cause pollutants, but they give off VOC, mold and dust mites if they have been sitting around for a while.
- Home improvement projects: including welding, sanding, painting, varnishing and the use of adhesives. Again, proper housing of these will reduce the polluting vapors these items release.
- Pets: the dander that comes with our lovable pets may be contributing to a lower quality of fresh air. Colder month mean that most of our pets spend more time in the home.
Typical Pollutants in the Home
Another action to be taken that will likely have a positive effect on your air quality is knowing the typical pollutants found in the home and where they build up.
- Dander from pets: pet dander is one of the smaller, irritating and more difficult pollutants to remove. There is a higher concentration during the winter when our pets spend more time indoors.
- Dust mites: when we spend more time indoors, particularly in the winter, there is a greater propensity for dust mite build up. Where ever there is dust, there are mites. It may help to clean the house with greater frequency during the winter to reduce the dust mites.
- Pollen: California has winter-blooming plants, and perhaps you have some in your house too.
- Mold: A tightly shut house may increase the environment for mold and mildew to grow.
How can poor air quality affect you?
A single exposure to poor air quality can cause some individuals to experience itchy eyes, throat and nose, headaches and dizziness. Consistent exposure may cause chronic sensitivity.
How to improve air quality?
The EPA recommends these strategies to improve air quality: air purifiers, ventilation and control the source.
Many pollutants are already in containers, such as gas, oil, cleaning supplies, etc. These containers can be stored away from the main living spaces and ventilation systems. Other pollutants not in containers can be addressed by the EPA’s recommended tips:
- Regular cleaning of the house and ensure air flow
- Regular replacement of the furnace filter
- Radon testing
- Carbon Monoxide detector
- Clean your bedding
- Regularly “air-out” those areas in the house where mold may build up
- Open windows when the opportunity arises
Mehl Mechanical can help you improve your air quality through tuning up your furnace, repairing it if necessary, or replacing your furnace if it is in poor shape. Also we can find ways to improve your duct work’s cleanliness and efficiency. Contact us today to review your furnace and ducts in your home.