By: Brian Schutt
It’s easy to forget about your heating and air if it’s working. But, did you know indoor air is often two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors? What if we told you your heating and air system can improve the air in your home? Let’s review the facts about common indoor pollutants, why they matter, and what you can do to prevent indoor air pollution.
Indoor Air Pollution Facts and Pollutants
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors. Whether it’s home, work, or school, we’re at the mercy of the quality of air in these places.
Let’s start with something within your control – your home. More energy-efficient building practices have increased concentrations of certain pollutants. Sealants, insulation, and house wraps decrease energy loss. The unintended result is less ventilation.
Heating and Air Pollutants: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
As we accumulate furnishings, household cleaners, and personal care products, more chemicals find their way into our breathing air. The adhesives, materials, and paint continue to be off-gas for months and years.
These include the glue used in carpet and solid-surface flooring, the foam in upholstered cushions, pressed wood furniture or shelving, and new mattresses. You know, the stuff you’re around the most.
Heating and Air Pollutants: Natural Substances
The EPA considers pollutants of natural origin to be things like radon, pet dander, mold, mildew pollen, and dust mites. Many of these enter our homes in our shoes and with our furry friends.
We, however, can reduce the amount of them using our heating and air systems. Mold, mildew, and dust mites, for example, increase with the amount of moisture in the home. Excess humidity creates a perfect environment for these contaminants to multiply.
Heating and Air Pollutants: Combustion Byproducts
This category includes tobacco smoke, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is produced naturally from any gas-fueled appliance in your home, like a gas furnace or fireplace.
If properly vented and maintained, this is a low concern. Unfortunately, incidents of high concentrations still occur due to a malfunction or a damaged component.
How Indoor Air Pollution Affects You
There are multiple health issues associated with indoor air pollutants. These include headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Some experience irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Carbon monoxide is toxic and even lethal in elevated concentrations.
Radon is a known carcinogen and is considered the second leading cause of lung cancer. Some impacts are minimal, but over time can lead to health issues.
The populations most vulnerable are the elderly, children, and infants. In addition, people with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, allergies, and COPD, as well as those with cardiovascular or immune-suppressed situations, such as those undergoing certain medical treatments, are at higher risk.
Many indoor pollutants are considered “asthma triggers.” These include dust mites, tobacco smoke, pet hair and dander, mold, mildew, cockroach allergens, and other particulates.
Methods to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution with Heating and Air
With basic central heating and air system, you can begin with two main tasks: routine maintenance and air filter changes.
Heating and Air Maintenance
If you have a furnace and air conditioner, each should get a tune-up before its “busy season.” If you use a heat pump, which operates year-round, we recommend tune-ups twice a year.
For most appointment flexibility, we recommend the spring and the fall but anytime is fine, especially if it’s been a while. During a tune-up, a professional HVAC technician performs an exhaustive inspection of your heating and air system. He cleans and tests all relevant components.
Heating and Air Filter Checks and Changes
At Homesense Heating & Cooling, we recommend monthly checks of the air filter. Change it as needed. You may find you need to change it more often depending on the time of year or season. Generally, every two to three months is good.
Pair Indoor Air Quality Products with Heating and Air
At Homesense Heating & Cooling, we’re happy to review the various IAQ products available from dehumidifiers to air purifiers. Many of us use them in our own homes and can provide a personal experience.
For example, the REME HALO In-duct Air Purifier is effective against particulates, gases, and microbes. It purifies every cubic inch of air your heating and air system reaches. It’s been thoroughly tested to remove airborne and surface bacteria, mold spores plus viruses like e-coli, Norwalk, and MRSA. It also eliminates odors from cooking.
Heating and Air Contractors in Indianapolis: Homesense Heating & Cooling
If you live or own property in Indianapolis or the suburbs, like Noblesville or Geist, Homesense Heating & Cooling is available for your HVAC service, repair, and installation needs. We also work closely with realtors, property managers, and real estate investors on heating and air issues.
Have you scheduled HVAC service lately? It will improve the air you breathe, prevent high energy bills, and reduce the chance of a breakdown.
Need more help to prevent indoor air pollution? Call Homesense Heating & Cooling at (317) 458-9255 or submit an appointment request form today.