What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and What Does It Mean to my Home and Family? - Service Mark Solutions

What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and What Does It Mean to my Home and Family?

When we think of air pollution, we usually think of the outside aspects of the air, such as smog, ozone, automobile emissions or heavy haze, especially in summer.

The fact is, the air that our family breathes inside our homes, offices, and other buildings is many times more polluted than the air outside.

The main sources of poor indoor air quality in homes are gases or particles released into the air from a wide variety of sources.  The air inside your home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde (from old worn-out carpeting) fire-retardants, radon, even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional household cleaners.

Poor and inadequate ventilation in your home, high temperature and humidity levels, mold, microscopic dust mites, also contribute to raised concentrations of indoor air pollutants.  And, with modern homes being more airtight than ever, these irritants tend to be trapped and stay inside.

Children, people with asthma and other breathing difficulties, and the elderly may be especially sensitive, however, everyone may become affected after several years of continued exposure to the various indoor air pollutants.

Let’s look at some basic solutions to improve IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) in your residence.

Typically, the best way to reduce the concentrations of indoor air pollutants is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce emissions.

Some very harmful pollutants come from faulty appliance emissions, such as cooking stoves or heating furnaces.  It’s important for thoroughly trained technicians to evaluate your home equipment annually, as, generally, two out of three indoor air quality issues involve the poor performance and improper functioning of the HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system.

Test for lead – especially if you live in a home built before 1978, since there’s a good chance it’s mixed into the wall paint.  In a newer home, you may also be exposed to lead from lead dust brought in from outside.  Lead dust can be detrimental to health, especially children’s, as it can damage the brain, central nervous system, and kidneys.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers practical suggestions on how to make your home lead-safe.

Test for radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas.  It typically moves up through the ground and into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation, however, even airtight homes can potentially have it, and granite countertops have also been linked to radon.

Radon, by the way, is prevalent in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania because of Uranium, which outgases Radon as a by-product, is deposited in the rock strata. Testing is easy, fairly inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes to accomplish, so make sure you do that since radon is the second leading cause of cancer in the United States according to the American Lung Association.

In some cases, Radon testing is required by certain lending institutions before transfer of a property.  Rest assured that with proper remediation equipment, even high radon levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.

Please go to http://www.city-data.com/radon-zones/Pennsylvania/Pennsylvania.html to see what the average radon levels are in your neighborhood.

Test for carbon monoxide levels, “The Silent Killer” in your home.

A ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing technician can service your furnace annually to prevent problems, such as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Cleaning your home is an essential way to help keep the pollutants at bay.

Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home, and get rid of other toxins, like PBDEs chemicals (a flame-retardant that has been used in a wide array of products), and allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.  Besides floors, remember to wipe down walls and clean upholstered furniture, where dust normally accumulates. Mopping will pick up the dust left behind the vacuuming, and new microfiber mops and dust cloths capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers.

Ventilation improvements increase the amount of outdoor air coming into your home to improve indoor air quality.

Woman standing in front of open window

Open your windows periodically, weather permitting, to add ventilation and fresh air to the space. Another HVAC system, an HRV (Heating Recovery Ventilation), uses fans to pull fresh air into a home while simultaneously exhausting stale air from the home. In most installations, the fresh air is delivered to the living room and bedrooms, while the stale air is removed from bathrooms, laundry rooms, and sometimes the kitchen.

Also, open the windows when vacuum-cleaning.  Install the vent of the clothes dryer on the outside and make sure it remains clean for proper discharge!  Use an exhaust fan or open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing – this will also reduce the humidity level.

Keep a healthy level of humidity at around 30%-50%.  Dust mites and mold love moisture, and this level will help keep them and other allergens under control.

Using a dehumidifier and air conditioner during summer months will help reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively control allergens.  An efficient air conditioner will also lower indoor pollen count. As a side note, modern high efficiency central air conditioning systems have intelligent thermostats that tell fans to ramp up or down, depending on particular needs, thus controlling humidity levels better than ever.

Make sure your leaky plumbing gets repaired to prevent mold.

Loosening pipe under sink with wrench

From small portable table-top air cleaners to whole-house systems, there are many tools to help make your IAQ healthier.

ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing can help you select the right air cleaner for your home.

When your home and family are in need of an HVAC company that is fully experienced in IAQ, turn to our experts. Let us guide you with information about servicing, upgrading or replacing your current systems and allow our comfort advisors to provide you with the energy efficient options that best fit your needs to improve the Indoor Air Quality and overall safety and comfort of your home.

ServiceMark Heating Cooling & Plumbing has the knowledge and experience and has been providing a full range of high-quality home comfort products and services for over 65 years.

All you have to do is decide that cleaner indoor air is important for the over-all health of your family and make that call! ServiceMark is standing by.

Contact us for more information on our many HVAC service solutions.