Your HVAC system does more than just keep your family warm in the winter and cool in the summer, it actually helps provide better indoor air quality (IAQ). Pollutants come from all directions, some can be created in the home (like household cleaners, off-gassing from furniture and carpet, and cooking) and other can find their way into the home (like outdoor allergens, mold, and bacteria). No matter how they get there, they can have a significant effect on your health, and they can also reduce the efficiency and life span of your HVAC unit.
Why does IAQ matter?
On average, people spend 90% of their time indoors. But did you know that overall, IAQ is two to five times more contaminated than the air you breathe outside? The Environment Protection Agency agrees that poor IAQ can have a very negative impact on people’s health. We also know that those with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and children can be particularly vulnerable when exposed to pollutants. While pet dander and mold are the most common causes of poor IAQ, there are other contributing pollutants found in most homes like mold and fungi, bacteria and germs, humidity imbalances, outdoor pollen, household chemicals, ozone, stale air and cooking residue. If you notice condensation on your windows, musty odors, warping wood, peeling paint, or loose drywall tape, those may be signs of poor IAQ. If you notice coughing or sneezing, or getting headaches, or if you feel you breathe easier when you are not in your home, it may be worth looking into your IAQ.
How does cleaning and filtration help?
One of the simplest things any homeowner can do to maintain good IAQ is to replace your air filter every three months or more. It is said that the average home will accumulate up to 40 pounds of dust each year! If filters are not changed regularly, they are not as effective in filtering out those particles which means dust gets circulated in with the air you breathe. Clogged filters can even tax your whole HVAC system by reducing airflow and efficiency. Also, when dust covers the components of your HVAC system, it can actually lead to premature part failure or shorten the life span of your unit.
Air cleaners can be used when filtration is not enough. Air cleaners will capture much more than the standard dust and dander that air filters catch. Most air cleaners will trap bacteria, smoke, pollen, airborne pathogens, and more. Usually air cleaners can block organisms down to the size of one or even one-third micron, potentially eliminating pathogens like the common cold.
What does ventilation do?
While every homeowner wants to make their home energy efficient, some homes are so air tight that they don’t allow for proper air flow. Poor ventilation can not only make the air feel stuffy and hard to breathe, it can lead to poor humidity. Humidity, whether too high or too low, can contribute to the creation of bacteria, viruses, mildew, mold and fungus. These pollutants are not only bad to breathe, but they can cover your HVAC components and reduce efficiency just like dust. A ventilator can be a great solution because with each cycle, it brings in fresh air and expels stale air. Many ventilators can condition the incoming air by using the energy of the outgoing air, and thereby lower energy consumption as well.
Are Ultra Violet (UV) lamps effective?
Sometimes, it is better to take it to the next level with a UV lamp in your HVAC. When air cleaners and ventilation are not enough to block the pollutants and airborne pathogens you are concerned about, a UV lamp can be a fantastic solution. Sometimes environmental conditions can cause your HVAC coil to become a host for bacteria and mold spores too. To stop this problem and others at the source, a UV lamp can be installed inside your HVAC or within your ductwork. This will help to stop these contaminants in their tracks, block the spread of bacteria and prevent a larger mold problem.
If you are interested in improving your IAQ, consider us a resource to walk you through your options. At Royal Heating and Air we believe everyone deserves to breathe clean air and feel their best. We are here to help you with inspections, proper HVAC maintenance, and advice on air cleaners, ventilators, UV lamps, and more to help you and everyone in your home breathe just a little easier. It is just one more way that Royal Heating and Air really is the king of comfort. To learn more, check out our website or call (573) 480-4313 today!