Poor indoor air quality in your Mobile, Alabama, home can lead to asthma attacks, allergies, watery eyes, headaches, nosebleeds, fatigue, nausea, trouble concentrating, and more. It could even increase your risk of cancer. People who stay inside a lot, therefore, get more exposure to indoor air pollutants are usually more vulnerable. They include children, the elderly, and the sick. Here are some of the factors that affect indoor air quality, along with ways to make the air inside your home safer and cleaner.
Too much moisture can attract pests and encourage mold growth. Many people are allergic to dust mites and cockroach droppings, and both bugs thrive in high humidity. Some types of mold produce harmful mycotoxins, and they usually grow in water-damaged walls, ceilings, and insulation. If humidity is high, mold can grow inside your HVAC ductwork and then spread to the rest of your home. Mold often causes a musty smell and stains on the walls, ceilings, and insulation where it grows.
Repair leaks in your roof and clean or replace any water-damaged furniture or building materials before mold or pests appear. Use an inexpensive gauge called a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home. Hygrometers are especially useful in areas that tend to have high humidity, like the bathroom. Use a dehumidifier if moisture levels are high, and remember to empty and clean it regularly.
If your home doesn’t have enough ventilation, pollutants will accumulate instead of escaping. Keep furniture away from vents and use exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms to remove moisture and unpleasant odors. Use a mechanical ventilation system with a filter to bring fresh air into your home without introducing pollen, dust, dirt, and other pollutants. Many of these devices also have a heat exchanger that heats or cools fresh air to lower energy costs.
Many common household products including air fresheners, pesticides, hair products, cleaners, detergents, paints, and varnishes contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Many of these chemicals are thought to be carcinogenic. Labels on a majority of products only list fragrance as an ingredient, not the particular chemicals used, so it’s difficult to know which brands are safe.
Whenever possible, choose mild, unscented cleaners and detergents and avoid aerosol sprays. Instead of using commercial air fresheners, use natural essential oils or make your own potpourri or herbal sachets with rose petals, lavender, cinnamon, or other ingredients. Use paints and solvents in a well-ventilated area, and go outside if you start to feel nauseated or dizzy.
Most dry cleaners use perchloroethylene, a carcinogen in animals. Therefore, if dry cleaning has a chemical smell, ask your cleaner to remove it. Also, the glues in particle board and fiber board often contain formaldehyde, another carcinogen, so you shouldn’t use them in enclosed areas. In addition, treated wood has pesticides and other harmful chemicals, so you shouldn’t burn it indoors.
Heating and Air Maintenance
Regular maintenance for your HVAC system provides several benefits. With routine maintenance your technician thoroughly inspects, cleans, and tunes your system which:
- prevents expensive problems
- improves indoor air quality
- reduces energy consumption and therefore power bills
- helps your system last longer
Have your HVAC system inspected at least once per year to keep it working at peak efficiency, and install a carbon monoxide detector if you use a fireplace, gas furnace, or wood stove. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that comes from combustion. It keeps people from getting enough oxygen, and in high concentrations, it can cause unconsciousness and death.
Choose air filters with a high minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV rating, to remove dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and other pollutants effectively. You should also check your filters at least once per month and change them when they get dirty. Add an air filter monitor that measures air pressure differences and tells you exactly when to change your filter. Some monitors can even connect to your smartphone or tablet.
Air Specialty has over 20 years of HVAC experience. We can install a variety of products to improve your indoor air quality, including humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilators, and ultraviolet lights to kill mold and bacteria. Our affordable repair and maintenance plans will keep your system in great condition. Call us at (251) 415-4559 for 24-hour emergency service.
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