Improving Air Quality in the Home

5 Things to Know About Indoor Air QualityAir quality is something that many Inspirada homeowners worry about as they choose a location to buy a property. Inside the home, however, air quality can often be worse than it is outside. Allergens, dirt, and contaminants can easily build up inside rooms, contributing to allergies and other problems. Fortunately, there are a few ways that homeowners can get a sense for their home's air quality and make it better. With this information, people will know the common sources of lower air quality and what they can do about it.

1. Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Contaminants can invade the home from almost anywhere. Some come from the outside but most are already in the house. In many cases, the toxins leave signs that people can pick up with their senses, like a visible stain or foul odors. Homeowners should look for these common causes of indoor air quality problems:

  • allergens, like dust or pollen
  • mold resulting from water damage or high humidity
  • volatile organic compounds that come from paint or cleaning products
  • fuel exhaust that accumulates due to poor ventilation
  • smoke from wood fires, cooking, or cigarettes

The best way to address each one depends on the pollutant and how long it has been accumulating.

2. Health Problems Associated With Low Air Quality

Sometimes, toxins do not reveal themselves until they start to affect the residents of the home. Since most problems build gradually, homeowners may not know what is causing issues. For example, carbon monoxide is deadly at specific levels, but it is colorless and odorless. People might have no idea that CO is accumulating in the home until someone becomes seriously ill. Homeowners should pay attention to the following health symptoms:

  • headaches or dizziness
  • changes in vision
  • repeated nausea or vomiting
  • difficulty managing existing allergies

These symptoms may be a sign of many possible concerns. Contaminants tend to be region-specific, but the way they affect people can vary significantly. Since indoor air quality is such a common problem, it is often wise to start there.

3. When to Hire a Professional

Many aspects of indoor air quality are related to behaviors, while others concern the systems of the home. Homeowners may be able to solve most of the problems by themselves, but there are times when it makes sense to call a professional. People who have recently bought the home or who are still shopping might want to take advantage of professional testing for radon or mold. Some companies offer kits that allow homeowners to gather samples and send them in for testing.

Remediation often calls for a professional. For example, significant water damage that triggered mold development will usually take more than a thorough cleaning of the kitchen or bathroom. Inadequate ventilation systems, particularly in older homes, may require a professional HVAC technician with experience performing retrofits. This work can be a heavy investment, but homeowners should keep in mind that air quality problems will continue to grow until they are solved. In many cases, it is easier and less expensive to address the issue quickly than to wait until it gets worse.

4. Changing Behaviors that Hurt Air Quality

Like many aspects of homeownership, homeowners may discover indoor air quality relates as much to what they do as it does to the structure itself. This means that improving air quality inside the house requires changing everyone's behaviors. Homeowners may notice an immediate improvement if they put the following tips into practice:

  • Change air filters at least every three months.
  • Use air conditioning instead of opening doors and windows.
  • Turn on ventilation every time someone cooks or cleans.
  • Avoid using fuel-burning space heaters inside unless they are ventilated to the outdoors.
  • Switch to paints, solvents, and cleaning products with low VOCs.

These steps usually take only a little time or money from residents.

5. Home Improvements that Improve Indoor Air Quality

Although behavior makes a big difference in a home's air quality, there are a few improvements that homeowners can make to help their efforts. These include:

  • sealing air leaks around the home exterior, particularly windows and doors
  • upgrading old fuel-burning heaters to models with higher efficiency and ideal ventilation
  • installing effective fans in the kitchen and bathrooms
  • considering a whole-house air purifier that connects to the HVAC system

These efforts cost more than simply changing habits, but they may be a necessity.

Improving indoor air quality means that homeowners have to know what is wrong and what they must do to fix it. Some solutions are as simple as flipping a switch, while others take an investment and assistance from a professional. By taking this issue seriously, homeowners can keep their household in better health with a cleaner home.

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