Breathe Easier—Four Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality
When it comes to having a healthy home, the importance of clean air cannot be overstated. Small changes can make a huge difference in the way we feel and the way our body functions. Simple things like clearing dust-catching clutter from our environment; keeping our heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system clean; and storing chemicals and cleaning supplies outside our living space are easy and inexpensive solutions to breathing and feeling better.
We spend more time than ever indoors breathing air that is invisible but that constantly affects our quality of life. Pets, possessions, furnishings, habits, and just plain living impact our air quality. Solutions to mitigate these effects include small changes that are easily achieved, such as the following:
- Keep your HVAC system well maintained. The unit and ducts are the heart and lungs of your home. The National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends an inspection and cleaning of the ducts and HVAC system every three to five years. Cleaning should be completed according to NADCA’s ACR 2013—its standard for assessment, cleaning and restoration of HVAC systems. Beware of scams; “too good to be true” pricing is just that. Always use a NADCA-certified company.
- Tight, energy-efficient homes are economical, but make sure you have a system in place to clean the air that is now trapped inside your home. Simple changes such as using an upgraded filter or filtration system, ultraviolet lights, and portable air cleaners will keep the air clean as it circulates through your home.
- Keep your chemical usage in the home to a necessary minimum. Cleanliness is important to indoor air quality (IAQ), but not by creating a toxic dump. Think about the effect your actions might have on the air quality as you use household cleaners, and ventilate when necessary.
- Check your to-do list. Never procrastinate on chores that involve water leaks. Stop leaks as quickly as possible, dry the area, and replace any damaged materials. IAQ professionals can evaluate the damage for mold and recommend the safe way to complete any repairs. Bleach is not a solution for dealing with indoor mold!
Ignoring the air quality in your home is not the answer to what may feel like an overwhelming list of do’s and don’ts for better air. Be purposeful, keeping IAQ in mind; make small changes; consult a professional when needed; and don’t give up!
Sharon Altenhoff, ASCS, CVI, VSMR, CETI, is a founding member and chief executive officer of Air Quality Specialists Inc. She has been actively involved in the rapidly changing indoor air quality field, recognizing the importance and connection between HVAC, building envelopes and pressures, and best practices in maintaining safe and comfortable homes and workplaces. For more information or to schedule air duct cleaning, IAQ testing or IAQ consulting, call 623-930-9391.