4 Common Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality or IAQ in your St. Louis, Missouri, home can lead to asthma attacks, allergy symptoms, watery eyes, nosebleeds, fatigue, headaches, nausea, trouble concentrating, and more. It could even increase your risk of cancer and shorten your HVAC system’s life. Some of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality are mold, pollen, pet dander, and volatile organic compounds.
Some types of mold produce mycotoxins that can cause allergy symptoms, and mold growth can damage your home. Mold can grow almost anywhere: behind walls, on insulation, on dust or paint chips, in carpeting, and more. Since it grows fastest near moisture, keep your home’s humidity low in summer with a dehumidifier. One of these devices can help you prevent potentially costly mold growth and keep your home more comfortable.
You should also fix plumbing problems like leaking pipes or a dripping faucet immediately and check your ductwork for mold and other contaminants at least once per year. Just open your air registers and look at your ductwork with a flashlight. Also, have a professional check your ducts about every five years to make sure you don’t miss anything. For extra protection, you can have a UV air purifier installed in your ductwork to kill any mold spores your HVAC system’s air filter misses.
For many people with allergies, pollen makes spring miserable. Fortunately, you can prevent allergy symptoms in your home by keeping pollen out. When you come home, take off your shoes to prevent spreading pollen. You can also try changing clothes. Vacuum and dust often or use a cleaning service to lower your exposure, and change your HVAC system’s air filter at least once per month.
Have your heater or air conditioner inspected by a professional at least once per year. That way, you can fix minor issues like a leak in your ductwork or a dirty condenser coil before they become major problems. An air purifier, also called an air cleaner, can remove additional pollen, mold, dust, dirt, and pollutants from your indoor air. Some models can even take harmful bacteria from your air.
Dogs, cats, rabbits, and most other animals shed small pieces of dead skin called dander regularly. It can cling to carpeting, furniture, bedding, and clothing. This means that it could give you a runny nose, itchy eyes, or other symptoms even if you don’t have pets and you just spend time with pet lovers.
To reduce pet dander, ask friends with pets not to touch their dog or cat just before they see you. If you have pets, brush and bathe them regularly or use a grooming service. You should also keep your pets away from bedding and furniture as much as possible.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Many household items contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that evaporate or off-gas at room temperature from some liquids and solids. These chemicals can cause breathing problems, headaches, and many other symptoms. Formaldehyde often comes from the glues in particle board, and other VOCs include benzene, acetone, toluene, and xylene. Volatile organic compounds are common in air fresheners and household cleaners, so avoiding these products can make your home healthier and more comfortable.
Use natural cleaners and air fresheners instead of commercial products. Simple, inexpensive ingredients like water, baking soda, and lemon juice make excellent cleaners; and potpourri, essential oils, and herbal sachets come in a range of appealing scents. You should also use nontoxic or child-safe paints and finishes wherever possible. Many houseplants can absorb VOCs, and you can use an energy recovery ventilator to help remove them. It brings fresh air into your home and saves energy by transferring heat from the stale or contaminated air to the fresh air like a heat pump.
Averill Heating & Air Conditioning is a Trane Comfort Specialist with more than 40 years of HVAC experience. We can help you install, maintain, and repair a variety of HVAC equipment, including devices for your indoor air quality. Call us at 314-328-0437 for a free estimate and excellent service from one of our skilled technicians.
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