Woman wiping down leaves of plant in home.

Ring in the New Year With Better Indoor Air Quality

You likely don’t think much about your home’s indoor air quality, yet it’s critically important to your health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the air you breathe inside your home is as much as five times more polluted than outside air.

A number of things in your home are polluting your air, including pets, dust, mold and mildew, household chemicals, and off-gassing materials.

Thankfully, clearing the air is relatively straightforward. The following steps will help you breathe easy.

1. Control Humidity

Ideally, you should maintain a relative humidity of 40 to 50 percent inside your home.

Some signs of dry air include:

  • Increased static electricity

  • Dry and cracking woodwork

  • Cracking paint

In contrast, too much moisture will cause foggy windows, mold, mildew and sweating walls.

Either a humidifier or dehumidifier will keep moisture levels in check. You can also get a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home.

2. Replace Your Furnace Filter

You should replace the filter in your furnace every 30 to 90 days, paying careful attention to the MERV rating. MERV stands for ‘minimum efficiency report value’. It measures the effectiveness of a filter based on the size of the particle it can capture. The smaller the particle, the higher the MERV rating.

People who suffer from allergies might consider going with a filter with a MERV of 11 to 13, which is the level most capable of trapping pollutants such as mold spores, dander, and pollen.

3. Use the Right Vacuum

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filtration system. HEPA filters are designed to prevent vacuumed dust particles from escaping through the exhaust system and re-entering your air supply.

HEPA filtration will also reduce the amount of lead dust in the home, as well as reduce the toxin called brominated fire-retardant chemicals, or PBDE.

4. Develop a Prevention System

Prevent additional pollutants from entering the home by securing each point of entry. This includes the front and back doors, as well as any windows and vents to the outside. Doormats can be useful for preventing dirt and debris from entering the home from the shoes, for example. Take off the shoes before crossing the floor into the room for maximum benefit.

5. Remove Pollutants

The EPA recommends controlling the source of indoor air pollution, especially for items like emission-emitting stoves or asbestos. This is considered to be even more effective and less expensive than improving the ventilation system. Professional services might be necessary in some of these cases. The service professional must first determine the source of pollution and then develop a plan for mitigating the emissions.

6. Open the Window

Indoor air pollution is often worse than anything happening outdoors, which can be startling for people who are aware of the problems caused by smog, haze, industrial waste, chemicals, and pollen. However, exchanging stale indoor air with fresh air from outside will help exhaust pollutants, reduce dust and remove odors.

Make sure to have plenty of ventilation while performing any indoor tasks that involve chemicals and other pollutants. This includes painting, cooking, and performing any hobbies that can generate dust particles.

Many new homes have systems built into them that will bring outdoor air into the home in an energy-efficient manner. You can also supplement these techniques by using an air cleaner. The key to improving indoor air quality is to do as many of these items as possible because a combination approach will be the most effective method.

Bottom line: Robinson Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. can perform a complete evaluation of your indoor air quality and help you determine the best solutions. To schedule an appointment, call (513) 813-5107.
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