The quality of the air we breathe has mostly been an afterthought for most people in the upper Midwest. We are blessed with little air pollution from urban centers and strong prevailing winds that keep our atmosphere fresh and clean. We assume that this translates to good indoor air quality as well.
This has changed in recent years. Hotter, drier summers have fueled massive wildfires in Canada and the mountain West that send their smoke all across the continent. It’s now common to see air quality alerts on the news, on your weather app, and even road signs. We’re living in a new time that has presented new challenges.
If you are concerned about poor air quality conditions leading to poor indoor air quality, or have a respiratory condition, you may be wondering if there is anything that you can do to protect yourself and your home.
The answer is yes! There are tons of solutions available to you to help you breathe easier when you are indoors.
See our indoor air quality solutions page for more.
Keep reading to learn:
- What causes poor air quality?
- How does it affect us?
- What you can do about it.
What Causes Bad Air Quality?
The unfortunate truth is that indoor air pollution can come from a wide variety of sources. Sometimes narrowing down the cause is simple, but other times it can take a bit of trial and error to determine what exactly is causing that tickle in your throat.
Here are some of the most likely culprits:
Poor outdoor air quality will translate to poor indoor air quality. Wildfire smoke increases airborne particulate count. Emissions from power plants, vehicle emissions, and chemical production contribute to low level ozone that is very harmful to breathe.
Outdoor air pollution will accompanied by a warning from your local weather service when it reaches dangerous levels. It’s important to understand the Air Quality Index scale.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew are common problems in a home- especially if you have moisture retention issues. They can be harmful to your health and add an unpleasant smell to your indoor air and contribute to respiratory diseases.
Whether you are allergic or not, a build-up of pet dander can lead to serious respiratory irritation.
General dust is a huge source of those sneezes that just won’t quit! Dust mites and all kinds of other nasty things like dead skin build up in your air and enter your respiratory system.
Pollen levels peak in spring and fall and can make life miserable for those with allergies.
Side Effects of Poor Air Quality
What is so dangerous about poor air quality, anyway? Surely people spend a lot of time breathing in less than-optimal air?
While that’s true, the health effects of continual exposure to poor air quality can be subtle, and many people don’t realize what is causing them.
Most often, respiratory issues appear in the form of a cough or a runny nose. If you already suffer from allergies or asthma you may also experience difficulty breathing. Headaches, watering eyes, and a sore throat can also all be linked to exposure to air pollution.
If you are experiencing persistent symptoms, we recommend talking with your healthcare professional.
6 Basic Tips and 1 Big Step to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Want to help increase the amount of fresh air flowing through your home? Here are our six favorite tips for improving indoor air quality.
1) Install New Air Filters
Air filters are a vital part of your HVAC system, designed to trap dust, hair, and particulate matter before they circulate through your air ducts. Not only does this improve energy efficiency, but it also prevents you from breathing in allergens all day.
However, over time these air filters get clogged with debris, making them less effective. While we recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions, most air filters need to be swapped out every 3-6 months.
2) Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned
While air filters help to protect your home to a certain degree, it doesn’t fully stop allergens from circling through your home. Dust, in particular, can build up in your air ducts and cause respiratory irritation.
Getting your air ducts professionally cleaned can help you to breathe indoors without getting the sniffles. Most people recommend that you clean your air ducts every 3-5 years for best results.
3) Clean Your Furniture
Dust and allergens can accumulate in your rugs, carpets, and soft textured furniture like couches or armchairs. A good deep cleaning and do wonders to restore the clean air in your home.
It may go beyond vacuuming. You may want to consider investing in or renting a carpet and furniture cleaner. If you are sensitive, make sure to avoid cleaning products with harsh chemicals and scents.
4) Use a Dehumidifier
Mold grows best in a damp environment. If your home is holding on to moisture, or you live in a humid environment, you may be encouraging mold growth without even noticing it!
The best way to combat a moist home is through the use of a dehumidifier. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase and can hugely impact indoor air quality.
5) Dust Frequently
Dust can be hugely irritating for the respiratory system and can easily build up without you recognizing it. Having a regular cleaning routine can help to keep the dust at bay! Don’t neglect tall surfaces and areas like baseboards and windowsills!
6) Consider Houseplants
You’ve probably heard “houseplants purify the air” for years. The truth? Well, it’s not that simple.
While houseplants do absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air, your houseplants aren’t likely to rid your house of a huge amount of pollutants. However, combined with other measures, they can have a moderately positive effect on overall indoor air quality.
1 Big Step: Get a Whole Home Air Purification System
Sure, you have a furnace filter, but with all the air quality challenges we face today, many homeowners are finding that this isn’t enough. There are many portable air purifiers on the market, but those can only treat a small area of your home- usually one or two rooms.
Aquarius Home Services can help! We’re Minnesota & Wisconsin’s largest provider of HVAC services and we have a range of add-on systems designed to improve air quality for your whole home.
Solutions include upgraded filtration units, UV germicidal/ oxidizing systems, whole house humidifiers, and polarized-media air cleaners.
We can also offer advice on maintaining your HVAC system for optimal function. Contact us today to learn more about our services!