Indoor Air Quality Components
Install HEPA Filters
Your HVAC system should already have filters in place, but they may not be fine enough to trap all of the pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, lead paint dust, viruses, and other potentially harmful particles that may be contaminating your home’s air. An HVAC contractor can recommend a better filter that will remove more of these particles. In most cases, the best choice is a HEPA filter, which is designed to capture 99 percent of particles at least 0.3 micrometers in diameter. HEPA filters are frequently used in hospitals and on airplanes to reduce the transmission of airborne diseases.
Clean & Repair Ductwork
Installing a filter won’t do much good if your ductwork is dirty or full of holes. If air can enter the ductwork through a hole, it can bypass the filter. And if your ductwork is full of dust and dirt, the freshly filtered air will just get re-contaminated as it circulates through your home. An HVAC technician can inspect, clean, and repair your ductwork to ensure that that this doesn’t happen.
UV Lights Installation
If you are especially concerned about bacteria and viruses in your home, you might consider having a UV light installed in your HVAC system to kill pathogens rather than relying on a filter to trap them. Another option is an electrified air cleaner or ionizer. Models that will fit in existing filter tracks inside your ductwork are available, and some models can kill 98 percent of bacteria and 80 percent of viruses. One interesting side benefit of electrified air cleaners is that they can reduce the amount of energy required to push air through your ducts because they put up less resistance than a traditional filter.
Having proper ventilation is also very important for maintaining good indoor air quality. For example, if you have a clothes dryer in your home, make sure it vents to the outside. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a dryer in a basement or garage doesn’t need ventilation. Air contaminants travel, so you don’t want them piling up in any part of your home, no matter how out-of-the-way it might seem. By ensuring that your dryer vents to the outside, you can not only eliminate floating lint and pet dander, you can also reduce humidity.
Check for Carbon Monoxide
If you have any sort of fuel-burning heating system in your home, whether it’s a wood-burning stove, a gas-fired furnace, or a fuel oil-powered boiler, you need to have this system checked out regularly by a qualified HVAC technician. As part of the inspection, the HVAC technician should perform a carbon monoxide test and also make sure that any carbon monoxide detectors you have are working properly. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and deadly so it is very important to take this airborne contaminant seriously.
Reduce Home Humidity
Many airborne contaminants, including dust mites and mold, thrive in humid conditions. In order to keep these allergens in check, you need to keep your indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. An HVAC contractor can help you do this by installing a dehumidifier or making sure your air conditioner is working properly. Note that using an air conditioner is better for allergy sufferers than simply opening a window because air conditioners can lower the amount of irritating pollen dust in your home as well.