Breathe Better, Feel Better, & Smell Better, Too
The Importance of Good Indoor Air Quality
Have you thought about your air lately?
It’s unfortunate but true that many of us take indoor air quality (IAQ) for granted. Unless you are sensitive to the air you breathe, IAQ may be the last thing on your mind.
But think about it: we need air more than we need anything else. We can go hours - or days - without food, water, or shelter, but to stop breathing for even a couple of minutes can cause death.
As important as air quality is, however, it does not need to be difficult or complicated to improve. This article will review how to achieve and maintain healthy IAQ at home.
First Thing’s First: Know Your Pollutants
Generally speaking, there are three main types of indoor air pollutants:
- Asthma and allergy triggers: anything that causes an allergic or asthmatic reaction. Examples include pet dander, pollen, mold, secondhand smoke, and artificial fragrances.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs): these are organic chemicals that are released as gases from different solids and liquids. Some things that give off VOC’s include paints and varnishes, glues, pesticides, and furniture materials such as composite wood products.
- Combustion pollutants: these are gases or particles which are created when different materials are burned. Examples include systems such as space heaters, hair-driers, gas stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces that are not adequately ventilated.
Being aware of the different types of pollutants that may be affecting your home, IAQ is the first step in correcting the issue. Every home is unique, so take the time to determine which items may be polluting your air. Get rid of any unnecessary items that may be contaminating your home’s air.
Test Your IAQ
To improve your home’s air quality, test it yourself. There are many different types of DIY tests available online or at local hardware stores. If you’re stuck, ask your experienced home comfort technician for suggestions.
IAQ & Your HVAC System
Because You Can’t Scrub Air
One of the most common causes of indoor air pollution is an improperly maintained HVAC system. It’s important to keep these systems (including your furnace, air conditioner, and vents) clean and in good repair.
Furnace filters have a large part to play in this, especially during the colder months. But duct and vent cleanings, humidity control, and other built-in air filtration systems can make a substantial difference. These state of the art systems allow you to “set it and forget it” so that you can rest easy knowing your air is always at its best. For more information on these services, please contact us.
Do It Yourself: Keeping Your Air Clean at Home
If you don’t want to leave it up to your HVAC system, or your home needs a little extra attention, here are some other ways that you can keep your IAQ high.
Clean Homes Lead to Clean Air
Cleaning your home is a great way to help improve and maintain your air quality. This is particularly true for homes with a lot of occupants or pets.
- Choose fragrance-free products. Try to choose cleaning products that are unscented or naturally scented. This ensures that you are not filling your home’s air with unnecessary fragrances and chemicals.
- Keep the floors clean. Of every surface in our home, the floors are touched the most. Vacuum and mop at least once a week to keep dust, allergens, and other debris out of the air. Carpets should be professionally cleaned at least once per year.
- Change your sheets, wash your curtains, and be mindful of other fabrics around the home. These are the worst perpetrators for holding on to unwanted air pollutants: porous materials trap dust, dirt, odours, and more, and can shed fibres, which find their way into the air.
Forget Houseplants & Salt Lamps
While there are numerous benefits to keeping houseplants around the home, air purification is not technically one of them. Houseplants increase oxygen and remove specific VOC’s in small doses, but these effects are not significant enough to measure. If you live in a greenhouse, it might be a different story.
Lamps made of Himalayan rock salt have come into vogue with promises that the negative ions they emit can also clean the air. While these lamps are beautiful, there is no scientific evidence that these lamps create enough negative ions to make a measurable difference in air quality.
Try These Tips Instead
- Whenever possible, open your windows when you can to let in fresh air. Yes, it’s that simple! Obviously, during the winter months, it’s too cold to have your windows open all the time. But even having them open for a few minutes allows stale air to leave and fresh air to take its place.
- Don’t burn synthetic waxes such as paraffin candles or wickless wax melts.
- Buy used furniture. Most new furniture is manufactured with materials, such as glues, processed wood, and synthetic materials, that cause off-gassing.
These are only a handful of ideas when it comes to creative ways to increase your indoor air quality. But the truth is that every home is different: your air quality depends on your climate, your lifestyle, your family, and more.
Something consistent, however, is that Furnasman is here to help with any air quality questions or needs you may have.