How is the quality of air in your home? If you’re like most people, you’re probably shrugging right now, and maybe taking a sniff. But air quality isn’t just mustiness or offensive odors. It’s quite possible that you have poor indoor air quality and don’t even know it!
So how does a homeowner — or apartment dweller, for that matter — go about determining the air quality of their living space? And is improving indoor air quality an achievable goal? You bet it is! Read on to learn all about it.
Signs That the Quality of Air In Your Home Could Use Improvement
Did you know that according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the concentration of indoor air pollutants can be up to five times higher than the level of pollutants outdoors? Here are some ways to tell that the air in your home could be purer and better to breathe.
- One or more occupants suffer from frequent respiratory issues, such as sniffling, sneezing, a runny nose, a stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, or other problems breathing.
- The home constantly smells stuffy, musty, moldy, or just plain unpleasant without a clear reason. It’s easy to become accustomed to these odors, so you may need to rely on a trusted friend or relative to give you an honest appraisal, or take notice when you arrive home after a week’s vacation.
- There’s a buildup of dust, especially around the air vents and on household surfaces; this is a sign that your HVAC system isn’t doing its job properly
- Mold and/or mildew are visible. In particular, check areas that tend to be damp or poorly ventilated, such as bathrooms, the basement, and underneath sinks.
- Your HVAC system seems ineffective. Do you find yourself having to turn up the AC higher and higher, to get the same cooling effect? Your filters could be clogged, or there could be a more serious issue. Either way, it’s a sure sign that your air is not being conditioned as much as it should be.
Of course, even if you are not experiencing any of these issues, it won’t do any harm to take action and improve the quality of indoor air in your home anyway!
Improving Indoor Air Quality
Ready to breathe freely again? Let’s get started! Here are 10 of the best ways to make things fresher and healthier inside the home.
1. Add Some Plants
Get thee to a greenery! Houseplants can help eliminate pollutants such as ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene from the air. They also process carbon dioxide into oxygen, lower stress, and add a decorative element to your space!
2. Stop Smoking
You know that smoking cigarettes is one of the worst things you can do for your health. But if you’re smoking indoors, you’re affecting the well-being of everyone in your home. If you can’t or won’t kick the habit, at the very least take it outdoors (and away from open doors or windows, so the smoke won’t drift back inside).
3. Throw Open Those Windows
Whenever the weather permits, open up your windows and screened doors to let some fresh air in. A well-ventilated home is a home with better indoor air quality.
4. In with the Good, Out with the Bad
The strategic use of fans is another way to increase the circulation of air throughout your home, which will help improve its overall quality. Draw fans that sit directly in a window frame and pull air out are especially effective. However, you can simulate that process by strategically positioning regular fans.
5. Time to Vent
Your air vents are critical to the circulation of fresh air, so take a few moments to check and make sure they are working optimally. First, are they all open? (This is the air quality equivalent of making certain that your appliances are plugged in.) Next, move any furniture or other objects that are positioned over or in front of them.
6. Give Your HVAC System a Tune Up
Twice yearly — before you fire up your furnace in the fall, and again in spring when it’s time to cool things down with the AC — you will want to give your system a thorough inspection.
Chances are the filters will need to be cleaned or changed. And why not have the professionals visit, to ensure that everything’s working smoothly? Regular maintenance is less expensive and less stressful than emergency repair.
7. Go Green When You Clean
Do you have a cleaning closet or cupboard filled with a variety of chemicals in spray bottles, squirt bottles, shakers, jugs, and jars? It’s time to consider ditching these toxic preparations in favor of greener cleaners.
Environmentally friendly versions can be pricey, but it’s easy to DIY cleaning products. Not only will this help you meet your goal of improving indoor air quality, but it’ll also save you money! With ordinary household items like vinegar, baking soda, borax, ammonia, castile soap, and essential oils, you can get the entire place spic and span — for pennies on the dollar.
8. Clean More Often
How often do you dust? Wipe down your walls? Pull out kitchen appliances and clean behind them?
Probably not often enough. The buildup of dust, pet dander, allergens, and other particulates is a significant contributor to poor indoor air quality, so stay on top of these chores. Take a top to bottom approach, making vacuuming the last task. And don’t forget to empty the vacuum filters frequently.
9. Shed Your Shoes
If you’re still wearing shoes around the house, it’s time to invest in some slippers. Insist that family members and guests alike remove their street footwear at the door. This will keep nasty pollutants from catching a ride inside.
10. Put Down Mats
Doormats will also help draw a dividing line between outdoor and indoor air. Use two at each entrance: one on the porch or steps to stop water, mud, and dirt from crossing the threshold, and one inside for further assurance (and to stash those germy shoes).
Improving indoor air quality in your home isn’t difficult, although it may require a multi-pronged approach. And the effort is definitely worth it. You’ll reap the rewards in the form of purer and cleaner air, better health, and a boost in the overall quality of your life!
Does your HVAC system need some TLC? Give us a call to schedule an appointment.