The quality of indoor air is more important than ever because homes today are built to keep out drafts and seal in energy. Having a tightly sealed home is great for efficiency, but the air inside can become noticeably stale. How is a homeowner to know if indoor air is a potential hazard? Repeated colds or illness during winter months is one sign. Controlling the root of the problem and improving ventilation can help, along with testing indoor air quality.
Poor indoor air usually happens because of poor ventilation. A home needs adequate ventilation and there are three ways to get it.
1. Natural ventilation through open doors and windows.
2. Mechanical ventilation through intentionally placed fans, ducts and systems.
3. Infiltration through cracks and leaks in a home.
A homeowner’s best bet for quality indoor air, especially when winter weather makes it impractical to fling open the windows, is through an air handling system that is intentionally designed to move indoor air out and redistribute filtered air. The rate at which indoor air is replaced by fresh, outdoor air is called the “air exchange rate.” When there is not enough infiltration, natural or mechanical ventilation, low air exchange rates result and indoor air quality declines. If you don’t have an air handling system, there are a few things you can do:
1. Control the source. Find any pollutants active in the home, like asbestos, leaking gas appliances, smoke, radon, or household chemicals. This is the cheapest way to control air quality.
2. Improve ventilation by increasing outdoor air circulation. If weather permits, open windows or doors. Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms. Do things like painting projects outside.
3. Test indoor air quality. An HVAC professional or local utility company can test indoor air. Either one might recommend using an air cleaner, which can effectively reduce the presence of particles and bioaerosols.
The experts at Arpi’s can help you test for or treat the indoor air in your home.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.