Let’s learn how to improve indoor air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that your indoor air is more than likely compromised by any number of contaminants, going so far as to say it’s potentially more polluted than what’s found outside in large, industrialized cities.
With that in mind, we’d like to offer you some common sense suggestions that range from relatively easy to rather elaborate. We’re not going to bore you with the obvious ones- like don’t smoke in your home if you don’t like the smell of the smoke- but we do have a handful of hints that can make a tangible difference in the air that’s in your home.
❶ Fumes Be Gone – Do not store cleaners, paints, sealants, and adhesives inside your home. Harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in these everyday household items don’t belong inside.
❷ At Your Service – Have a licensed professional HVAC technician perform regularly scheduled maintenance on your HVAC system. Not only can seasonal servicing of your system help its performance and longevity, but it can also address perennial cleanliness concerns, such as dirty coils and
❸ Break the Mold – Ventilate bathrooms to help create a mold-free and mildew-free environment. Long, hot showers feel great, but without proper ventilation, they also create ideal conditions for the mold. Better indoor ventilation is a cut and dry solution
❹ Another Mite Bites – the Dust Periodically replace bedding, carpets, curtains, etc. These microscopic pests love that old rug as much as you do. From
time to time, they both have to go.
❺ Let It Breathe – Implement whole home ventilation year-round for better air quality. Again, out with the old and in with the new. This time it’s the stale air you need to part with. Proper ventilation goes a long way towards keeping your indoor air fresh and clean.
Dirty Little Secrets
What’s Really in your Air Filter?
You vacuum, sweep, dust, and even give your pet a bath! But your air filter in your heating and cooling system still becomes covered with “stuff” that has been floating around in your house. Your filters reveal a dirty little secret – your home and the air you breathe aren’t as clean as you may think!
Replacing a dirty, clogged air filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.1
Different types of filters are made to capture different types of particulates floating around inside your home. “Particulates” is the fancy word for the dirty “stuff” found in your filter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency*, a basic low MERV mechanical filter may capture some of your home’s:
• Dust • Pollen • Animal dander • Mold spores • Larger particles that contain dust mite and cockroach allergens
But the EPA also says that basic mechanical air filters may not be very good at completely removing these particulates because they quickly settle on surfaces. However, filters can trap enough particles and prevent them from landing on fan motors and heating or cooling coils. This helps to protect your HVAC equipment.
What’s MERV got to do with it?
MERV is not the guy you met at the gym. MERV is number value that distinguishes the filtration ability of air filters installed in the HVAC ductwork. The MERV numbering system can range from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV number, the better the filter may be at trapping particulates. This means that fewer particles and airborne contaminants can pass through a high MERV filter to your HVAC equipment.
Residential furnace and air conditioner manufacturers commonly use 1 to 4 MERV rated filters. They may not be as efficient in filtering out smaller particles. However, these filters may stop some larger particles from passing through to the HVAC equipment.
If the MERV rating is higher, there is a better chance of trapping “viruses, bacteria, some mold spores, a significant fraction of cat and
dog allergens, and a small portion of dust mite allergens.”
The EPA suggests that filters with a MERV rating between 7 and 13 can be early as effective as true HEPA filters. However, some residential HVAC systems may not have enough fan or motor capacity to accommodate higher efficiency filters. Therefore, talk with your technician about your local HVAC manufacturer’s recommended filter type before upgrading to higher MERV filters. Installing
true HEPA filters in an existing home HVAC system typically requires professional modification of the system.
How Can I Get Cleaner Air?
Cleaner indoor air is achievable! Licensed professional HVAC dealers can install whole home filtrations and purification solutions that secretly and automatically treat the air in your home. These systems are meant to purify and deodorize your indoor air, as well as protect central heating and cooling system efficiency.
If you are concerned with indoor pollutants, discuss possible solutions and products with your licensed professional HVAC dealer.