Do you know what’s in the air in your home? Most people believe the air in their home is significantly better than the air outside, and as such will often seek refuge from poor air quality in the comfort of their home. What they don’t realize is that in fact the opposite may be true. For the average American household, the air inside could be up to ten times worse in quality than the outdoor air around them. This shocks many homeowners: if they spend so much time indoors in their own home, how could they not realize the air around them is so poor?
There are several reasons for this, but the most relevant and important one by far is the fact that we simply become accustomed to the quality of the air in our homes. Household odors, dust concentrations, and even other hazards all become more or less undetectable by our noses because our brains train themselves to ignore them. But just because you can’t perceive the problem being there doesn’t mean it doesn’t still exist, and usually your guests will be the first ones to notice it.
Here are three of the most common reasons why the air quality in your home could be so poor and what you can do to help rectify these issues so they don’t cause you nearly as many problems in the future.
Doors & Windows Remain Shut
Perhaps the most common reason why indoor air quality could be so poor is that we keep our homes closed up and sealed for so much of the year. During summer, running your air conditioner can be expensive, and we want to enjoy a cool and dry home, so we keep our doors closed and windows shut tight. During winter, heat is a precious commodity, and we pay dearly to obtain it so the doors and windows close up once again. Really there are only a few months or even as little as just a few weeks from each year where the weather is mild enough to warrant leaving doors and windows open for more than just a few minutes at a time.
What that means is that the air in your home continually recirculates, never actually being replaced with fresh air from the outside. All of the air quality ruining pathogens and substances continue to accumulate, however, and that means their concentrations only increase. Before long, you’re dealing with remarkably poor-quality indoor air.
Odors Accumulate Beyond Our Detection
Does your home smell strange? Do you notice an odor when you leave your home for some time and then return back? Does that odor seem to vanish after a few minutes? This is more than likely a sign that you have issues with household odors. Household odors are an extremely common indoor air quality problem, and one which few people bother to take the time to truly attack or resolve.
Household odors come from a number of different sources. Smoking indoors leads to smoke residue infiltrating carpet, curtains and window treatments, and many other fabric materials found throughout your home. The same can happen with odors from cooking things with strong smells like coffee, broccoli, or bacon. Furthermore, even strong body odor can have a lasting effect on odors in your home, particularly because they can become embedded in fabrics in your couches, chairs, or other furniture.
Mold & Mildew Pollute the Air
Mold and mildew growth are a big problem for homeowners, particularly because they can grow in areas which are either hidden or invisible to the eye on a normal basis. Mold needs three things to growth: a carbon-based material or surface to use as a food source, a moisture source which is a damp area from either water drip or humidity, and protection from harmful UV radiation caused by the sun. It’s far easier to find these conditions than you might think, particularly in your refrigerator or areas where humidity or moisture may be present like bathrooms.
Mold and mildew both create some rather foul odors that can percolate throughout your home, but the true danger from them is the spores they can release. Spores are invisible to the eye, but are constantly released into the air in order for mold colonies to grow, re-form, and spread elsewhere. Black mold in particular is hazardous to your health and can cause serious illness if not attended to quickly.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Improving your indoor air quality may not be nearly as difficult as you think. In some cases, all you really need to do is to open your doors and windows periodically for about 20 minutes and allow the air in your home to cycle out. Just a small bit of fresh air will make a tremendous difference in your home. However, you’ll still want to make sure this new air is filtered through a high-quality air filter, and that means regularly changing out and replacing your HVAC system air filter.
If you’re struggling with poor indoor air quality, even with regular air filter changes, talk to the experts at Performance Air Conditioning, Electrical & Plumbing by calling (727) 877-1294 today.