Fall is here, and winter is not too far behind. You and your family are more likely to be spending more time indoors as the weather cools down. So, this makes now an excellent time to start thinking about the air quality in your Jacksonville home.
Indoor Air Quality is a Concern for Many Americans
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside many homes can be two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. In some extreme cases, indoor pollution can be up to 100 times more polluted. This is because the pollutants that are found indoors have higher concentrations than what is typically found outdoors.
Part of the reason for increased concentrations is that the more airtight our homes are for energy efficiency’s sake, the less air that is getting indoors to dilute the pollutants in the air. Unless the pollutant is removed by your home’s HVAC system, it is likely to stay in your home or be recirculated through the air.
Florida’s warm climate with high humidity levels throughout the year can have a negative impact on your home’s indoor air quality. It can lead to increased concentrations of mold, mildew, fungus, bacteria, and viruses throughout your home. High humidity levels promote the growth of these living organisms that can wreak havoc with not only the comfort of your home but also your health.
Like many other homes across the United States, Jacksonville residents also see a buildup of many more common pollutants just from everyday activities, including:
- Dust and dust mites
- Bacteria and viruses
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from cleaning products, air fresheners, paints, flooring, carpeting, etc.
- Formaldehyde from household products, building materials, cosmetics, etc.
- Tobacco smoke
- Fireplace smoke
- Carbon monoxide
Health Risks of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality has a direct impact on your health. Most at risk for health issues from indoor air pollution are young children, the elderly, those with existing respiratory conditions, and pets. Continued exposure to pollutants like mold and mildew can aggravate existing respiratory issues, like asthma and COPD, or cause new respiratory problems. Excess bacteria and virus growth can increase the likelihood of coming down with colds, respiratory infections, and other illnesses.
Most alarming is the effects that radon, carbon monoxide, and VOCs have on your health. VOCs are synthetic materials that can be found throughout most homes that release harmful gases into the air that you breathe. Prolonged exposure to VOCs can lead to damage to your nervous system, liver, or kidneys.
Best Ways to Improve and Maintain Proper Air Quality
There are things that you can do to help improve and maintain the air quality in your home this fall and make your home healthier for your family. One place to start is by choosing cleaning products that are made from natural ingredients instead of harsh chemicals. Choose air fresheners that are made from natural essential oils instead of those containing harmful chemicals. Avoid using aerosol sprays in your home.
When renovating your home, stick to building materials that do not contain high levels of VOCs. Choose low VOC paints, flooring, and furniture that will not slowly produce dangerous gases in your home over time. Choose houseplants that can help clean the air in your home. Some plants like fern and ivy help remove pollutants from the air better than others.
Regular cleaning can help reduce the number of pollutants in your home, like vacuuming at least two times a week. Use a damp cloth to wipe the dust off your HVAC registers, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, and ceiling fans. The more dust, dirt, and debris you remove from your home, the less that will continually circulate in your air. Make it a habit to remove your shoes before entering your home and get your family and visitors to do the same stop tracking in dust, dirt, and other pollutants.
If you see that your home seems to collect a lot of dust, you should discuss this with your heating and cooling company. This is usually a sign that your ductwork needs to be inspected and cleaned.
One of the most important things that you can do to help improve the air quality in your home is to change your HVAC filters on a regular basis. It is best to inspect your filters each month and replace them as needed. If you see that your filters are always clogged up with dust, hair, and debris, you should have your ducts inspected and cleaned.
How HVAC Can Help Improve Air Quality
Regular maintenance of your home’s heating and cooling equipment helps improve and maintain indoor air quality. This service ensures that your system is working properly and has the ventilation and airflow needed to keep the air clean in your home. Your system should be inspected each fall and then again in the spring.
Additional maintenance services like duct sealing will help stop contaminants from getting into your HVAC system from leaky ductwork. Air duct cleaning and sanitizing should be performed every 3 to 5 years to remove contaminants to keep the air cleaner in your home.
Certain upgrades to your existing HVAC system can combat indoor air quality issues. This includes installing a:
- Dehumidifier to remove humidity from the air to achieve an optimal level between 45-55%
- Humidistat that works like a thermostat, but instead controls the level of humidity in your home
- UV light system to clean the air by killing mold, mildew, viruses, bacteria, and other allergens
If you have concerns about the air quality in your home, it is time to contact East Coast Heating & Air Conditioning. We can help you find the best strategies for improving the air in your home to make it healthier for both you and your family.