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Understanding what can affect the health of the air you breathe in your own home can be a conundrum, especially knowing that indoor air can contain up to five times the concentration levels of air pollutants than the air outside! If you are a health-conscious homeowner that has been searching for air quality testing here in the St. Louis area, here are the things you need to know about indoor air quality (IAQ).
Some of the most common sources of poor IAQ come from inside the home. These include:
Through a process called off-gassing, the furniture and construction materials that make up your home often continue to introduce chemicals into your breathing air over time, underscoring the importance of IAQ improving measures like proper ventilation, humidification, and air sealing.
However, outdoor contaminants can also enter your home, becoming trapped in your central heating and air conditioning system. This often happens through open windows and doors, or small cracks and gaps in the construction of your home, like in the attic, basement, and garage.
One of the reasons outdoor air can be less contaminated than indoor air is the confined space of the indoors. When pollutants like vehicle exhaust, allergens, and chemicals enter the outdoor air, they have the earth’s entire atmosphere to help dissipate.
When these contaminants enter the air in your home, however, they are sucked into your central heating and cooling system. Even with proper air filters, these contaminants can recirculate in your breathing air over and over, causing allergy-like symptoms all year round.
You take measures every day to drink clean water—why wouldn’t you do the same for the air you breathe, especially when you consider the increase in time we are all spending indoors this year? Poor IAQ can cause a wide range of symptoms that often mimic seasonal allergies or other chronic issues, such as:
Some of the first signs to look for when it comes to poor IAQ are the symptoms listed above. If you start to see excessive dust accumulating in your home, it may be an early indicator. You also may notice a headache coming on after you return home from a long day’s work, or you often wake up with a stuffy nose and dry eyes. If any of these ring true, the air in your home could be the cause.
If you suspect the air in your home may not be as healthy as you need it to be, call the indoor air quality experts at SmartHouse and we can get you set up with an appointment to learn about your indoor air quality concerns, and see how we can help. From there, we may suggest some home improvements that can help (see below) or we may recommend further diagnostics, like an indoor air quality test to better pinpoint the issues in your home.
Improving your IAQ begins with preventing future infiltration of these indoor pollutants and contaminants, and then implementing the ventilation and filtration systems necessary to get the existing contaminants in your home out of your breathing air. As we stated above, an energy audit will locate the total amount of air leakage in your home, so that the SmartHouse team can locate and permanently seal up any holes or gaps in a process called air sealing. An energy audit may also uncover any lapses in your insulation that could be causing indoor drafts, which can also contribute to poor IAQ.
Once we know your home has a proper seal, the whole-home experts at SmartHouse will make sure your air filters are up to par, and recommend any air purification systems or additional ventilation measures, like upgrading your oven range hood, bathroom fans, or even upgrading to a UV germicidal lamp to kill the viruses and bacteria that enter your HVAC system.