There are several risks when you walk out the door. You could get into a car accident or trip over something and break a leg, or catch the flu. You might not be so surprised about the risks of breathing in some ‘fresh air’, especially if you live in the city or suburbs where there is a lot of condensed traffic. Obviously, there’s a lot of pollutants in the air, some you can’t avoid, but what about the indoor air quality in your own home? Asbestos, lead paint, radon, and mold are all potential perpetrators that could affect the air quality inside your home. Evidence gathered by the US Product Safety Commission suggests that the air inside homes and buildings can be more polluted than the air within even the largest and most industrious cities. With spring and summer, not only do you have to worry about allergens, but warm and humid weather, which is the perfect breeding ground for mold and if you have pets, dust mites.
When Should Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality Concern You
It never hurts to be proactive, and have your house tested. If you’re unsure whether your house is at risk of poor air quality, there are clues to watch out for. It’s important to notice any changes in your health that could link to your home and not your lifestyle. Leaving your house untested could lead to serious respiratory health problems, some even fatal after years of exposure. Here’s what to look for.
- Watch your allergies. It’s easy to dismiss your allergic episodes to the change of season, but it’s important to know when and where your allergies happen. Pollen, dust, and other irritants can be more concentrated in indoor spaces versus outdoor spaces. If you start to experience a sneezing or coughing fit shortly after you set foot inside your home or office, and it ends shortly after you leave, poor indoor air quality might be the culprit.
- Be mindful of any unusual symptoms. If your home is at risk of asbestos or mold, that puts your health at risk. If you experience symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, fevers, chills, fatigue, vomiting, or even muscle pain, contact a professional and doctor immediately.
- Be aware of the time of year. With summer comes heat and humidity, which makes a hospitable habit for all kinds of bacteria and other biological contaminants. It’s recommended that homes have a humidity of 30-50%, anything more and your house could be at serious risk of mold and mildew.
- Study your environment. Sometimes it’s not your home that’s the culprit, but everything surrounding your home and ends up coming through the air ventilation system. Construction and renovations happening close by can release a number of particles and chemicals into the air. If you live in a tightly packed neighborhood and your neighbor just painted their fence or sprayed their lawn with insecticides that could be what leads to your home’s poor indoor air quality.
- Track your home project history. Maybe it’s not the construction going on around your home, or next door neighbor engrossed in their home improvement. It could be some renovations you did to your home that’s affecting the air quality. Replaced flooring, newly painted walls, or any major updates, are all possible culprits for poor air quality.
- Check for inconsistencies. The clue might come from your ventilation system. If for example, one spot in the house feels colder or warmer than the other, you might have an issue of proper air flow which can affect the air purity in your home.
Are You at Risk? Here’s What You Can Do
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed above or just a lot of ongoing construction nearby, or you suspect something’s up with your ventilation system, then it’s important to contact a professional. Self-testing your home is less costly, but also less reliable- it’s a good way to screen your home for potential health risks. If you know your home has poor indoor air quality, then it’s time to do the following things.
- Have your air system inspected and cleaned. The issue might be an outdated or malfunctioning air system, or that there are vents caked with dust and other irritants.
- Change your air filters on a regular basis. Depending on who occupies your home, typically a homeowner without pets needs to change their filter every 90 days, whereas a homeowner with pets needs to change their filter at least every 60 days.
- Get an air purification system. These can help especially for allergy sufferers and asthmatics, as well as reducing or eliminating second-hand tobacco smoke.
- Eliminating the source of air pollution. Something in your home that contains asbestos and is at risk of contaminating your air should be sealed or enclosed. Leaky gas stoves can be adjusted to decrease the number of emissions. This is the most cost effective way to protecting your indoor air quality versus increased ventilation, which is very energy intensive.
- Improve your ventilation system. It might be time to bite the bullet and either replace or upgrade your ventilation system. Most home heating and cooling systems don’t mechanically bring fresh air into your home.
If You’re Unsure, Call a Professional
The fact is your home has a lot of potential contaminants circulating inside, and your health shouldn’t have to suffer for it. Factors like construction, weather, home projects, and the quality of your air ventilation system can all impact the air quality of your home. If you think you’re at risk, then it’s crucial to contact a professional. They can inspect your home and identify the problem. Not only can a professional tell you the severity of the problem, but its source and they can offer you suggestions on how to improve your indoor air quality.
Don’t wait for the coughing fits to start, call Roy’s Plumbing, Heating and Cooling today and improve indoor air quality immediately!