What Variables Make Up Indoor Air Quality?
There is more to home comfort than the setting on your thermostat. Here in Greater Seattle, many residents like to leave their windows shut throughout the year. This is to combat the many days of inclement weather. If the quality of your indoor air is poor, however, it can have serious effects on your overall health and well-being.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
When a sunbeam shines through your window, you can see dust particles floating through the air. You may not worry too much about these kinds of impurities. However, it is important to remember that if something is in your air, you and your family are breathing it in. While your body has ways to filter out some of these irritants, the higher the level of impurities, the more likely it is that you will experience negative effects.
This is especially the case with newer homes where efforts to improve energy efficiency lead to a tighter construction. In older homes, small cracks around windows and doors create a natural flow where fresh outdoor air replaces stale indoor air. This may make your heating and cooling systems work harder, but it also improves the general air quality. If you are in a newer home, look for ways to increase ventilation such as regularly using exhaust fans and opening some windows on pleasant days.
Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality
The signs of poor air quality are the most obvious when there are allergies involved. As the level of irritants increases, sensitive people will experience common allergic reactions such as a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing. People with asthma may also have a higher number of respiratory issues. If you have cold symptoms that will not go away, it may not be a virus but something in your air.
Other irritants can cause headaches and fatigue. You may have trouble sleeping or have less restful sleep than normal. Some people experience nausea or just a general sense of feeling unwell. When you have these kinds of symptoms, try spending a few days in another location. If the symptoms go away when you leave your home, it is time to think about improving your air quality.
The Impurities You Can See
Most of the irritants in household air are things you can see with the naked eye. They make up the dust that floats in the air and slowly coats your home. Dust particles are a mixture of dead skin cells and hair or dander from pets and people, seasonal pollen grains, fibers, dirt and mold spores. These are the particles that are most likely to cause seasonal allergy symptoms.
One way to handle household dust is by employing intentional cleaning practices. Especially during the allergy season, you will want to sweep, vacuum, and dust more frequently. Consider investing in a robotic vacuum that will clean your home on a daily basis. You can also encourage family members to leave their shoes by the front entrance so they do not track in more dirt and pollen.
At Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning, we recommend installing an electronic air cleaner. This device uses static electricity to pull particles out of the air. One advantage of this system is that you do not have to change filters. Instead, you can wash the cleaning cells in your sink or dishwasher, flushing the impurities out of your home.
Another service we provide is annual duct cleaning. Our technicians will remove dust that has accumulated in your home comfort system over the course of a year. Not only does this mean a cleaner system, but it also removes one of the most common breeding grounds for dust mites.
Bacteria and Viruses
Microorganisms are a natural part of your world. Wherever you go, you are exposed to countless bacteria and viruses. Your home is no different. These little creatures can be found in every corner and floating in your air supply. This is part of the reason that, in many homes, when one family member gets sick, everyone gets sick.
Removing bacteria and viruses from your indoor air is especially important if you have someone in your home with a compromised immune system. This person will have trouble fending off illnesses and may be constantly sick. By addressing microorganisms in your home, you are taking care of your loved ones.
One of the solutions we suggest at Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning is a UV air treatment system. This device uses ultraviolet light to neutralize bacteria and mold spores so they cannot harm your family. Once we install this unit in conjunction with your current heating and cooling system, it will remove microorganisms so they cannot recirculate.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals that float through your air. The reason that you can smell something cooking in another part of the house is that heating food releases small droplets of oil and particles of smoke. Some of these compounds, like those found in cigarette smoke, can be dangerous with long-term exposure.
The kitchen and bathrooms are the areas where people release most of these compounds. Common cleaning products and beauty products send chemicals into the air. It is very important to install and use exhaust fans in these areas. If you can pull VOCs out of the house before they spread, you will have a much cleaner atmosphere.
You may also find higher levels of VOCs in basements and garages where people store paints, adhesives and other chemicals. If you read the labels on many of these products, they will instruct you to use them in well-ventilated areas. When you are working in the basement, try to vent fumes outside. If you are working in the garage, keep the door open.
Humidity and Air Quality
The amount of moisture in the air is another factor when looking at indoor air quality. When the house it too moist, it encourages mold growth and dust mite reproduction. When it is too dry, it can cause sore throats and itchy skin. Uncontrolled humidity can also do damage to wooden objects in your home, causing them to crack or warp over time.
At Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning, we see the biggest humidity issues during the winter months when the air outside tends to be drier. Many people try to fix this problem by using small humidifiers for individual rooms. However, we suggest a whole-house solution with a flow-through humidifier. We can install this device as part of your heating and cooling system. As air flows through your ductwork, it will be pulled through a damp pad in the humidifier. This means that the air throughout your home will have the proper level of moisture.
Professional Help When You Need It
Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning is passionate about taking care of the residents of the Puget Sound area. We offer a comprehensive range of home services. Whether it involves heating, cooling or indoor air quality, our technicians can get the job done right. In addition, we also provide professional electric services. For more information, contact Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning today. We have offices in Seattle and Lynnwood.