Your Home’s Air Quality
Your home’s air quality can be easily affected by gases (including carbon monoxide, radon, volatile organic compounds), particulates, microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria) or any mass or energy stressor than can induce adverse health conditions. Source control, filtration and the use of ventilation to dilute contaminants are the primary methods for improving Indoor Air Quality making your home a dramatically healthier place for you and your family. These approaches can help reduce allergies, alleviate asthma and even boost productivity.
Indoor Air Quality can be maintained by your H.V.A.C. System in four ways:
Air Duct Cleaning
In a poorly sealed air conditioning duct system, dirt and dust can build up inside the air ducts and on the air duct grilles and registers, causing a reduction in airflow and thus can return through the indoor air when dislodged from the air duct. Getting your air ducts tested for leakage and any air loss corrected by professionals will make your air conditioner or heat pump more efficient and help remove allergens from your home. A sealed duct system with proper filtration and routine maintenance should not require duct cleaning. However, homeowners unable to overcome objectionable odors, i.e. tobacco odors or rodent odors with the addition of electronic air cleaners, charcoal filters, etc. might consider duct cleaning with approved foggers applied by a licensed contractor.
This process occurs naturally in all homes, but at different rates depending on the structure’s tightness. It is unhealthy to live in a home with poor air exchange, and ventilating the old-fashioned way. Opening windows is one way to increase the pace of air exchange, although it’s an energy-wasting solution. Energy efficient ERV and HRV ventilation systems exchange indoor air for outdoor air while recovering most of the energy used to heat or cool the air being exhausted. ERV’s are an excellent way to mechanically ventilate a house without throwing away most of the energy that has already been generated. HRV’s recover the heat energy from the air without water vapor recovery. Controlling fresh air entering the home allows it to be conditioned by an efficient air cleaner, dehumidifier and UV treatment system prior to passing through the home’s furnace or air conditioner. Ask us about having your home and duct system tested for leakage and measured for the AHSRAE recommended number of air exchanges per day to keep your indoor air healthy.
Eliminate air pollutants before they enter the home. Any substance in the air that can cause harm to humans and the environment is known as an air pollutant. Pollutants can be in the form of solid particles, liquid droplets, or gases. In addition, they may be natural or man-made. For example, by not allowing people to smoke or have pets in the home, homeowners practice source control. Such examples are not always practical. Installing ultra-violet (UV) treatment systems help stop the problem before they start. By sterilizing pathogens with UV treatment systems, homeowners deter such harmful contaminants as mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses from forming.
Proper humidification levels are equally important in both hot and cold environments. The American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and many other authorities recommend keeping the relative humidity level in your home between 30% and 50% year round. Higher levels encourage allergy causing dust mites, mold growth and musty odors. Indoor mold can cause serious health problems, including allergic reactions, toxic reactions, asthma episodes, infections and respiratory damage.
When percentages higher than 60 occur in the summer, you’ll feel to warm. Humid air suppresses evaporation of sweat from the skin, causing that “sticky” feeling. High humidity also increases the cooling demands on an air conditioning unit because humid air contains more heat than dry air at the same temperature. Some houses are actually too humid, causing excessive moisture to drip off the windows in the winter, or to be damp and clammy in the summer. If your home is too dry, your furniture and walls can suffer damage. A lack of appropriate humidity or moisture in the air will produce dry mucous membranes resulting in dry eyes, noses and throats. Raw, exposed membranes now become a direct path for bacteria and infection.
Installing a humidifier or dehumidifier will help keep the humidity at the right level. A computerized, Right Sizing Equipment Calculation (Manual J HeatLoss/HeatGain) performed by a trained, qualified contractor or Comfort Consultant will ensure the proper humidity control for the structure design when replacing and or installing new air conditioning systems.
Remember, Bigger IS NOT Better- it just makes you WETTER! Never ask for or allow any contractor to over-size or increase the capacity of your air conditioner. Don’t be tempted to increase the size due to plans to “build on that new porch or room”. Ensure the proper size a/c equipment is installed for the space in use at the time. When the new porch or room is finally completed, contact our Comfort Consultant for proper sizing options for the new structure utilizing Ductless Air Conditioning and Heat Pump systems.