Indoor air quality is something that more people are paying attention to in Roseville, CA, given the amount of time that we spend indoors. However, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what it means, what it’s comprised of, and how to control it. Use this guide to discover the science of indoor air quality and what it means for your home.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
At a basic level, indoor air quality deals with the various particulates in the air that we breathe while indoors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that people encounter two to five times more contaminants inside than outside. When left unchecked, too many or the wrong kind of contaminants can negatively affect your health. This can range from asthma and allergy attacks to exposure to pathogens and dangerous chemicals.
Not only can these contaminants affect your health, but they can also affect your HVAC system’s performance. Your air filter will catch many of these contaminants, so the more there are in your air, the faster your filter will clog. Some of them are small enough to flow past the filter and will collect elsewhere in your HVAC system. If you don’t have these particulates cleaned during a routine maintenance appointment, they can clog the system. This restricts airflow and the effectiveness of your heating and cooling systems.
Types and Sources of Indoor Air Contaminants
There are all sorts of different contaminant molecules, but they are generally broken down into particulate matter, contaminating gases, chemicals, and biological contaminants. Some of these may come from outside your home, while others will come from sources inside your home.
The most common form of particulate matter that contributes to poor indoor air quality includes dust, hair, dirt, animal dander, and more. Particulate matter can come from within your home and from sources outside your home. From within your home, particulate matter may come from soot from fires or candles, dust from construction projects, hobbies, or even baking.
Gases are another type of contaminant that you’ll find in your air. Of particular concern are gases like radon, carbon monoxide, and even volatile organic compounds. Radon is a radioactive gas that’s naturally released from soil in certain areas. A furnace or gas-burning appliance will produce carbon monoxide and create a risk of exposure when something is damaged or broken within your HVAC system.
There are many chemicals you may find in the air around your home. Formaldehyde is one of the most common VOCs that people recognize in home products. You’ll find it on pressboards, air fresheners, candles, paneling, and foam insulation. Unfortunately you can’t always remove VOCs by using traditional HVAC filters. You can upgrade to filters that utilize carbon filtration or consider having a whole-house air purifier installed.
Biological contaminants can range from harmless particles like pet dander, pollen, and mold to more serious issues like bacteria and viruses. Many of these contaminants can cause allergic reactions and an increase in asthma attacks.
Ways to Control Your Air Quality
There isn’t a single solution that works for every type of airborne contaminant. However, when looking at indoor air quality solutions, there are generally five considerations for making improvements.
1. Be Mindful of Adding Contaminants
The best thing you can do is reduce the number of contaminants you’re adding to the air. Instead of burning candles and using chemical air fresheners, try using essential oils and other natural products. Convert from using chemical spray cleaners to disinfect your house to using more natural ingredient options. Avoid smoking or vaping in the house, and groom your pets regularly. Finally, keep a rug at the door where you come in and out. This will help capture dirt and contaminants from your shoes before you track them throughout various rooms.
2. Importance of Humidity Control
Humidity plays a critical role in helping control the particulate contaminants floating around in your air. When the air is too dry, contaminants become lighter and will stay airborne longer. Conversely, when there’s too much moisture in the air, it encourages mold spores and other biological contaminants growth. This will further add contaminants to the air, reducing your indoor air quality.
The EPA recommends keeping your indoor humidity between 30% and 50% throughout the year. Given the outdoor humidity levels around Roseville, you’re more likely to need solutions to reduce the humidity in your home to keep it within the ideal range. A dehumidifier is a great addition to your HVAC system if you’re dealing with high humidity.
3. Air Cleaners and Scrubbers
Air cleaners and scrubbers are helpful in removing contaminants from the air, including particulate matter, gases, and biological contaminants. Depending on the device you have, they may provide extra filtering, ionization, or a combination of the two.
Filtration can be accomplished using high-efficiency filters that capture smaller particles than a standard HVAC filter. It may also include special filters, like activated carbon, that can remove VOCs and odors from the air. Air ionization is a common technology used in air purification technology. It releases negatively charged ions into the air that is moving through your system. When these ions get into your home, they act as magnets for contaminants floating through the air. This causes them to cling together and become heavy enough to be removed from the air.
4. Improving Ventilation
Getting the right amount of ventilation in your home will help improve your air quality. You can utilize natural ventilation, such as open windows. Mechanical air ventilation is also an option. Mechanical ventilation usually includes using some kind of fan or ventilator to help refresh your indoor air using what’s outside. Common equipment includes bathroom and kitchen fans.
These special methods of ventilating your home not only help exchange fresh air with the stagnant air from inside but also help improve heating and cooling efficiency. An energy recovery ventilator has a heat exchanger that allows heat to transfer between the air coming in and the air going out. In the summer, the cool air going out absorbs some of the heat from the air coming in, effectively cooling it. In the winter, the air coming in absorbs some of the heat from the air flowing out, warming it. These processes reduce the amount of work your heating and cooling systems have to do.
5. Air Purifiers
Air purifiers are a special kind of air quality tool. Rather than removing contaminants from the air, they address specific contaminants to render them inert. This includes bacteria, viruses, and even some odors. Some of the most popular air purifiers are UV-light purifiers that use UV-C light to interrupt the cellular function of airborne contaminants.
Whenever people around Roseville need effective and trusted HVAC or plumbing solutions for their homes, they turn to Environmental Heating & Air Solutions. Our award-winning team has provided indoor air quality solutions along with heating and AC installation, maintenance and repair, residential plumbing, home automation, and insulation installation since 2010. Call to schedule a consultation with one of our indoor air quality experts today.