Bad Air Quality Report? Next Steps to Consider

Published on: May 26, 2014
Poor report and checkmarks | AC Southeast®

Getting a bad grade is no fun at all, especially when that bad grade means the air inside your home is less than desirable. Fortunately, if your home didn’t stand up well on an indoor air quality test, there are things you can do.

First off, you’ll probably want to talk with your HVAC contractor for information on specific equipment options based on the results of your air testing. A combination of DIY efforts and mechanical supplementation of your home comfort system can help to protect your family from those harmful pollutants often found in indoor air.

Maintenance of Your HVAC System

One of the most important steps you can take in improving your indoor air quality is scheduling regular preventative maintenance for your home comfort equipment. Consider these issues:

  • Heating equipment – dirt buildup can affect your indoor air supply, leading to respiration of irritating particles. Additionally, a malfunctioning furnace or boiler could expose your family to carbon monoxide leaks, leading to potential symptoms ranging from fatigue and nausea to death.
  • Cooling equipment – dirty evaporator coils and blower parts can promote mold and bacteria growth in your air handling unit. They may also expose your circulating air to contaminants on a regular basis while affecting the energy performance of your system.
  • Duct management – as your air handler or furnace experiences a collection of dirt and pollutants, your ducts can also harbor these materials. Leaky ducts can facilitate backdrafting of hazardous emissions such as carbon monoxide, as well. An inspection is a good starting point for identifying risks and remedies.

Your home comfort equipment should be serviced just before its use is needed each year. Duct cleaning may only be necessary every three to five years.

Bringing in Fresh Air Through Ventilation

The air in your home can be much more polluted than outside air, and a ventilator may be the solution you need to reduce the concentration of pollutants in your home, especially if odors are also a problem. Balanced ventilation is managed with a system such as an energy recovery ventilator, equipment that exhausts polluted air while bringing in outside air. Exhausted air is removed from an area such as the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, and intake air is channeled to a living room or other living space. At the recovery box, outgoing heating and cooling energy can be partly recovered to keep your utility costs lower. A filter at the intake also helps to limit the introduction of outside pollutants into your home.

Air Cleaning

You may be able to address some of the issues through supplementing your HVAC system with enhanced filtration options. These include:

  • High-MERV air filters – select a MERV from nine to 12 for more intensive filtration of airborne particulates. Don’t exceed a MERV of 12 because this can cause a pressure problem for your home comfort equipment.
  • House plants – many plants naturally filter for a variety of pollutants that result from use of materials such as paint, printer ink, cooking sprays or laundry supplies in your home. Spider plant is an excellent choice for filtering numerous emissions, and aloe vera acts as a natural air filter, as well. Research additional plants based on the findings of your IAQ specialist.
  • Air purifier – a purification unit works together with your home comfort equipment to circulate your indoor air supply more frequently, cleaning materials from the air by intensive filtration or electrostatic methods. Germicidal units also weaken and destroy the cell walls of many biomaterials, neutralizing them to protect the health of your household members.

Moisture Management

If a significant level of mold or mildew has been identified in your airstream, you may need to supplement the humidity control features of your air conditioner. The recommended RH for your indoor environment is between 30 and 50, and this can be difficult to manage during milder conditions because your air conditioner may not operate as frequently. Newer air conditioning systems include better humidity control features, or you can supplement an existing AC unit with a dehumidifier.

Contact an HVAC Professional

An experienced HVAC professional can provide you with the most relevant solutions for your home’s needs. If you are ready to tackle your indoor air quality problems, we can help you in finding a Southeast U.S. professional serving your community.