Your home should be an oasis away from the elements, especially here in Arizona – where the temperatures can get high enough to melt dang near anything, and the wind conspires to create catastrophic looking dust clouds and more! That means that for many months out of the year, Arizonans spend their time indoors to escape the heat, blasting their air conditioners. But what if the air itself is a problem? This time on the ACE Home Services blog we are taking a look at indoor air quality – what it means, how it’s measured, and what you should know to keep your home happy and healthy!
Indoor Air Quality
The name itself is clear, this is all about looking at the quality of the air within and around buildings, homes, offices, you name it. Indoor air quality, often shortened to IAQ, affects not just the comfort of people but their very health – here’s how.
IAQ can be affected by plenty of different things including gases, molds or bacteria, animal hair and dander, particulates – like we said plenty of things. The more of these there are in the air or the worse they are, the worse the IAQ is going to be, naturally.
While smoking is not as common as it once was, second-hand smoke is full of carbon monoxide (more on that later) and tiny particulates that can work their way into the lungs of others. E-cigarettes and vapes also produce particulates. The only sure way to get rid of this contaminant and increase your IAQ is to stop smoking indoors entirely.
Indoor fires can produce black carbon particles, sulfur oxides, mercury compounds and other chemicals that will linger in the air. Obviously this will depend heavily on the kind of fire and the fuel type for it.
Things like mold, pet dander, mildew, bacteria, insects, and all sorts of biological contaminants can get into your air. When these stick around they get circulated throughout your air conditioning system, bringing health problems like allergies, asthma, flu, (even measles) and chickenpox can linger and drastically reduce the quality of your air indoors.
Deadly, odorless, and invisible, carbon monoxide is not something you want to risk building up in your home. Faulty furnaces, wood stoves, or burning up fossil fuels can cause this gas to build up inside your home. Carbon monoxide interferes with the ability to breathe and lead to sickness and even death. You should always have a carbon monoxide detector in your home to help protect your family.
This one is going to develop in any place people live because it is a direct result of our activity. Carbon dioxide is what we breathe out after we take a breath of oxygen, so if there are plenty of people in a smaller space, there’s sure to be a lot of it floating around. If there are high levels of carbon dioxide inside the people indoors may become drowsy, get headaches, or otherwise function at lover levels as your body struggles to get more quality air. The way to combat high carbon dioxide levels is to ensure an adequate amount of air ventilation to the outdoors.
Another colorless, odorless gas that is dangerous to us – radon is a radioactive gas that can lead to lung cancer. It’s a particular problem in Arizona, according to the ARRA (Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency) one out of every 15 homes in Arizona has excess levels of radon past the EPA action level (4.0 picocuries per liter of air). To remove high radon levels and boost your indoor air quality you can seal concrete floors and basement foundations, improve ventilation, or seal water drainage systems. Radon has a short half life, meaning that once the source of the radiation is removed the home should return to safe levels in a matter of weeks
Household Cleaning Products
That’s right, all the products you are using to keep your home clean might be lingering past their welcome and making you and yours sick! If your home doesn’t have a properly circulating ventilation system, those sprays and cleaners can pollute the air. Too much of it and you can experience headaches, nausea, and more. To prevent a build-up make sure you are opening windows for proper ventilation and not using too many different chemicals at once.
Keep Your Indoor Air Quality
You can do a few things right now to keep your air quality, well quality. Inspect your vents and exhausts to make sure they are open and operating correctly. Clean your HVAC filters. Dust your home, and when cleaning your home open a window or two. Test your carbon monoxide alarms, and replace the batteries if necessary. There are at-home tests for Radon, and other contaminant level tests you can perform to see if there is a concern worth noting.
Having a functioning HVAC system is a critical piece of keeping your indoor air quality up to snuff. If your home’s air conditioning system isn’t working like it should – give us a call! We are all across the Valley and ready to help!