6 Signs Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Needs Attention
Worried that you and your family are breathing in unhealthy air at home? Here are six signs that your Henderson home has poor indoor air quality, along with tips for handling each issue.
Most newer air conditioning units bear Energy Star labels indicating that they meet or exceed government standards for energy efficiency. The corresponding Energy Guide labels on each unit reveal details about the models’ energy efficiency, along with estimated costs for heating and cooling a home. If your air conditioner tends to exceed these standards or fluctuates wildly, the model might not have the capacity to perform properly. Inefficient HVAC systems can quickly contribute to indoor air quality problems, since they may not be able to filter particles from the air, keep the humidity at a comfortable level, or maintain a consistent temperature.
If your HVAC system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a new unit engineered to work efficiently and handle all of your air quality issues. If the system is newer, consider having the unit professionally maintained in order to make sure fluid levels are correct, performance isn’t compromised, and all parts are working properly.
Since leaky or blocked ductwork can lead to serious efficiency problems, you can also consider having your ducts cleaned and inspected for cracks, leaks, and insufficient insulation. A professional HVAC technician can give your home’s ducts the attention they need to improve the system’s overall efficiency.
Humidity levels that are too high or too low cause more than just discomfort or overheating. You’ll know that your home suffers from low humidity when you experience extreme or constant static electricity, dried out indoor plants, and peeling wallpaper. This state can also lead to health problems like increased risk of colds and infections, dry skin, and itchy eyes.
Though low humidity is a more common problem for Henderson-area homeowners, high humidity can be an issue, too. After all, excess moisture indoors can cause mold to grow and can encourage dust mites and other allergens to thrive.
To combat a minor case of high humidity, use exhaust fans to push warm, moist air outside or install ceiling fans to help circulate the air. For minor problems with low humidity, invest in some houseplants and keep them watered, or use a fan to move warm, humid air through your home after showering or washing dishes.
For larger humidity problems, consider installing a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier, both of which ensure that the humidity in your home stays at a healthy level. Since both of these units work in conjunction with your home’s HVAC system, you can rest assured that they won’t over- or under-humidify your home like standalone units can.
When you start a big remodeling project in your home, you might expect to see more dust than normal. Without a major contributor like construction, though, large amounts of dust shouldn’t have the opportunity to accumulate on surfaces or continually travel in the air. Excessive dust can attract dust mites, a common cause of allergies. Once settled, these critters can be tough to eradicate since they’re attracted to dust anywhere from flat surfaces to mattresses to carpeting. Vacuuming thoroughly and washing bedding regularly can help alleviate dust mites, but what do you do when the dust just keeps coming?
Excessive dust is a sign that your HVAC system isn’t trapping particles in the air properly. If you haven’t changed the system’s air filter in the last month, replace it with a new one. Since filters can easily get clogged with dust, it’s important to change them at least every two to three months, or more frequently if you run the air conditioner constantly.
For a larger dust problem, consider installing a whole-house filter, which boosts your HVAC system’s filtration capabilities a notch or two. Whole-house filters are passive, so they don’t use additional power, but they do trap dust and other particles as they circulate through the air.
In the Henderson area, it’s often necessary to keep the air conditioner running through November, since warm temperatures typically continue through the fall and late season heatwaves happen when you least expect them. Instead of enjoying a consistently cool home, though, many Nevada homeowners find uneven temperatures from room to room. If you’ve ever noticed that some rooms in your home stay warm while others cool down easily, the cool air from your air conditioner may not be reaching each room equally.
Since this can lead to air circulation problems and indoor air quality issues, it’s not a sign you want to ignore. If you haven’t had regular air conditioner maintenance recently, start by scheduling a checkup. If the air conditioner itself doesn’t seem to be the problem, consider changing to a zoning system, which effectively divides your home into sections that are cooled and heated separately. Many HVAC systems can be adapted to accommodate zoning systems, which can ensure that each zone receives cool air as necessary without overcooling rooms that are already at the right temperature.
If you’ve lived in your house for long, chances are it has a familiar scent that makes you feel right at home. When that odor starts to go sour, however, it’s time to pay attention to what your house is telling you. If you’ve ever smelled perfume in the air hours after you sprayed it on or cooking odors from dinner earlier in the week, your home suffers from stale odors. Whether these odors drive you up the wall or don’t bother you at all, they’re symptoms of a larger problem that you can’t cover up with air freshener.
Unpleasant smells that don’t seem to go away signal that your home doesn’t have adequate ventilation. Most homes are designed to cycle stale air out while drawing fresh air in, but modifications to your home’s building envelope or HVAC system can cause a carefully balanced ventilation system to go haywire. Before you take any major steps to fix the situation, take note of how odors move through your home. If they remain strong for an extended period of time in an isolated area, your home’s HVAC system warrants a closer look.
When your home’s air circulation is insufficient or nonexistent, resist throwing open the window, as you might just draw in outdoor pollutants. Instead, try turning on a ceiling fan to get the air moving. If that doesn’t have the desired effect, consider installing a ventilation system that works with your existing HVAC system. Heat recovery ventilators work to push old air out and bring new air in, and they have the added benefit of moving unwanted heat and humidity out of your home’s air circulation.
Not all indoor air quality problems are apparent in your home environment. In fact, sometimes you might not realize there’s an issue until your health starts to suffer. Bad indoor air can lead to a whole host of respiratory conditions, including chronic coughing, sneezing, fatigue, headaches, and congestion. If left untreated, some of these issues can develop into even more serious health problems like nosebleeds, breathing difficulties, asthma attacks, and even lung disease. When you notice the first sign of a chronic respiratory, it’s important to question the quality of the air in your home right away.
Air purifiers do wonders for cleaning the air in your home and removing allergens. While these appliances won’t pull all of the allergens from the air, most air purifiers will trap pet dander, pollen, mold, dust, and other irritating particles of a similar size before you can inhale them.
Keep in mind that in addition to airborne allergens, excessive carbon monoxide in your home’s air can also lead to major health problems and even death. Don’t let this invisible, odorless gas cause serious harm to you and your family. Simply install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home, and the device will alert you to unsafe levels of the gas in your indoor space.
Does your home’s indoor air need professional help? Call the indoor air quality pros at Ambient Edge: 702-479-7464.
Image provided by Shutterstock