There can be some factors inside any home that determine the level of air pollution present. Sometimes the age of the home can be involved, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. In fact, newer “super sealed” homes may create conditions that foster polluted air more readily than older construction. If you have allergies, then you already know that air born particulates are a real problem inside or out. However, even if you don’t, you should be aware that some substances are ranging from basic house dust to mould spores and viruses capable of taking up residence in your home and in your home’s air.
Sealing up air leakage particularly to and from the attic is a good first step. Moisture-laden air can work its way into the attic through gaps in the ceiling or via wall joints, light fixtures and exhaust fan enclosures. Mould can result from the moisture-heavy air collecting in the attic. Correctly applied caulk and weather-strip can seal off these issues.
As we’ve talked about sometimes before, maintaining a clean filter in your home’s heating ventilation and air conditioning is critical – not only to the efficient operation of the system but also to keep the cleanliness of your indoor air. In peak heating and cooling times, a once a month filter change (or cleaning) is not out of the question. Otherwise, follow the manufacturers or you heating contractor’s recommendations.
Vacuum regularly and wash your bedding. Dust mites can only be killed in hot water of at least one hundred and thirty degrees, so even if you cold water wash everything else, do the bedding on the “hot” setting. Regular vacuuming helps to control dust accumulation and prevents it from being stirred up into the homes established air flow and all over the place.
How Can I Maintain Cleaner Air In My Home?
There are some ways to cut back a considerable amount of indoor air pollution effectively. If you are an allergy sufferer or have any impediment to your breathing, you already know how “cruddy” indoor air can hurt your overall quality of life. Don’t despair; here are some ideas to help make breathing perhaps a bit easier and more comfortable:
Vacuum every week. While it might sound like more work, vacuum everything you can, as the buildup of dust and dander can only be reduced by getting rid of it. Newer vacuums with a HEPA grade filter are perfect at completely removing what they pick up from the airstream as are central vacuum systems, which move all of the dust and dirt to a remote canister (often in the garage or basement). As with everything else, make sure that the vacuum filters and collection bags are maintained, replaced and cleaned as required. If you have pets, take them outside for a weekly bath or vigorous brushing.
If it is in your budget, consider installing an air purification system for the entire home. There are a variety of technologies and types of systems available – a discussion with your trusted HVAC professional should be able to guide you into the best choice and best value for your money.
In the summer months, try to keep windows closed between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon when pollen counts are highest.
I know, I know – I’ve said it likely 100 times, but I’ll say it again. Change your furnace (heating system) air filter regularly. Either follow the manufacturer’s specifications or once a month at least.
Depending on what type of control you have over the issue, try to keep the indoor humidity level between about 35 to 45 percent all year round. This isn’t so high as to promote mould and mildew growth and at the same time not so dry as to make breathing difficult (also won’t cause dried out nasal passages and irritation).
Keep your furnace or boiler and the area in which they are located clean and free of dust (mechanical room, closet, garage, etc.). In doing so, you will ensure that there is no build up of toxic air (mould, mildew, etc.) that can be drawn into the system intake and distributed around the house.
Finally, you may want to consider an energy audit of the home whereby the professional assessment team can identify issues relating to air quality and make recommendations to solve them.
What Helps When Breathing is Affected?
I admit that I don’t have any “breathing oriented” allergies, although I do have a reaction to certain specific foods. In my case, if I avoid eating those things that have a deleterious effect on my digestive system, my problem is pretty much dealt with. Unfortunately, if your breathing is noticeably affected by air quality (or more importantly lack thereof) it’s pretty tough to say, well I just won’t breathe when I’m at such and such a place – apparently, not breathing also creates some serious side effects too!
If you’re affected by the air quality in your home, however, modern technology can come to the party in some very practical fashion.
Electronic air purifiers essentially charge the particles floating around in the air (down to microscopic levels) electrically as they pass through the unit (placed in the ductwork, by or on the furnace). When the charged particles pass through a set of “collector” plates inside the unit, they are magnetically attracted to them and get stuck there. More refined (yea more expensive too) electronic purifiers will also bombard the particulate matter with ions (ionization) which kills microorganisms (bacteria, mould and so on). After the electronic processes, the air is passed through a final mechanical filter for a penultimate “scrubbing”.
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration is another great leap forward toward maintaining higher indoor air quality. HEPA filters are placed into a “bypass loop” in your home’s ductwork. A blower system within the filter moves about 60% of the indoor air through the filter at all times, enabling it to remove up to 99.6% of contaminants and ensuring constantly filtered air and air movement. Don’t be “air sick” in your home; it just isn’t necessary.