The quality of air in your San Marco, CA home has a tremendous impact on the health of you and your family. Airborne allergens and contaminants can trigger asthma and allergy attacks. They can also exacerbate sinus irritation, headaches, skin rashes and fatigue. Whether you’re bringing home a new baby or adapting your living environment for someone with compromised immunity or a terminal illness, read on to learn how to prepare your indoor air quality (IAQ).
Schedule an Indoor Air Quality Assessment
The very first step in boosting your indoor air quality is learning which toxins exist in your home and in what concentrations. Integrated HVAC system accessories like air scrubbers, air purifiers and dehumidifiers address specific IAQ concerns. These accessories are installed in HVAC air ducts. While each option is effective for resolving various IAQ problems, no integrated accessory is guaranteed to work well for everyone. Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning can provide an indoor air quality assessment.
During your IAQ assessment, we’ll check for common allergens, chemical contaminants and pathogens. We’ll also measure your indoor humidity and look for correctable, underlying issues throughout the building. For instance, if you have a slab leak or an uncapped sump pump that’s allowing high concentrations of radon gas into the home, we can fixing your sump pump or slab.
What IAQ Assessments Check For
The people and pets throughout your home are always introducing new IAQ concerns into your living environment. Surprisingly, the building itself is a contributor as well. Certain building materials are constantly off-gassing chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. Moreover, these gaseous contaminants pass right through standard HVAC air filters.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include all aerosols such as those that are discharged when using spray-on deodorants, room freshening sprays, hairspray, bottled surface cleaners and plug-in air fresheners. You may also be exposed to them through unsealed particle board, flooring adhesives and interior paints. High concentrations of VOCs can result in recurring headaches, loss of concentration, confusion as well as nose, throat and eye irritation. They affect the functioning of the central nervous system (CNS) and long-term exposure can cause serious damage to the liver and kidneys.
Every time someone with an illness sneezes, they release millions of micro-fine pathogens that enter the indoor air and float through space indefinitely. This is how ailments like the flu and the common cold spread from person to person. Common airborne pathogens also include mold, mildew and other fungi.
Many people with pet allergies are allergic to pet dander. Dander is found in the shed skin cells of pets with fur, feathers or hair. Humans also shed skin cells that contain a material much like animal dander. Thus, even if you don’t have pets, your IAQ could still be poor if your living space is riddled with dust mites and the detritus that feeds them.
High or Low Levels of Indoor Humidity
There are differing opinions on what the ideal humidity is for the interior of residential buildings. In general, it’s best to maintain humidity levels between 45% and 65%. In most cases, humidity levels higher than 65% can leave the air feeling muggy, heavy, clammy or downright oppressive. When humidity falls below 45%, residents can suffer from dry skin and eyes, throat and sinus irritation, headaches and frequent nosebleeds.
Standard and Upgraded HVAC Air Filters: What They Can and Cannot Do
Upgrading your HVAC air filter is a low-cost and easy way to address your IAQ. All HVAC equipment comes with a standard air filter pre-installed. These simple, low-cost components are largely designed to protect the interior of air conditioners and heaters. Without them, evaporator coils, thermocouples and intake valves would be quickly covered or blocked by build-ups of dust, pet hair and carpet fibers.
Unfortunately, standard filters aren’t capable of capturing all airborne particulates. Their larger mesh and modest surface areas leave things like dander, dust mites and pollen unchecked. HVAC air filters are also unsuitable for treating problems with radon, VOCs or other gaseous contaminants, and they can’t filter out the pathogens that make people sick.
Air Purifiers and Air Scrubbers
Air purifiers and air scrubbers supplement HVAC air filters by extracting or neutralizing the micro-fine debris that moves through them. Whether installed in HVAC air ducts or attached to them, these popular HVAC accessories can minimize concentrations of:
- Mold and mildew
- Viruses and bacteria
- Dust and dust mites
- Pollen and dander
With one of these units, you can address all of the most common IAQ triggers and effectively support the needs of your household’s most vulnerable residents. However, although they treat the same IAQ concerns, air scrubbers and air purifiers differ.
Air Purifiers: Pristine Ducting and Cleaner Indoor Air
Air purifiers have multi-layer filters with ultra-fine mesh and greater surface area. These attributes allow them to collect ultra-fine debris. Some air purifiers also release sanitizing solutions or negatively charged ions that weigh harmful particulates down or neutralize them. An air purifier will keep your entire air distribution system free of mold and mildew and prevent harmful viruses, fungi, and bacteria from being passed from room to room during HVAC operation.
Air Scrubbers: Sanitization That’s on Par With That of Hospitals
Air scrubbers have long been used in medical research facilities, various industrial environments, hospitals and laboratory settings. Like air purifiers, air scrubbers have complex, multi-layer filters with extra-fine mesh and large surface areas. However, while air purifiers use sanitizing solutions to keep HVAC air ducts clean and neutralize toxins in the air that passes through ducting, air scrubbers release a sanitizing agent that permeates every corner of the home. This solution weighs airborne particulates down so that they settle on floors, countertops and other indoor surfaces. Air scrubbers also sanitize the air in each room and the surfaces that neutralized particulates have fallen on. They offer a significantly higher level of sanitization for people with serious health needs like compromised immunity or terminal illnesses.
Humidification and Dehumidification Equipment
Your IAQ assessment could indicate the need for humidity control. Although HVAC systems offer ongoing humidity regulation, they can only extract excess moisture and do not add more moisture to the air. They can also struggle in balancing excessively high humidity when buildings have slow or hidden leaks or other ongoing problems that constantly add moisture to the air.
Whole-house humidifiers and de-humidifiers seamlessly support air conditioners and condensing furnaces in humidity regulation. When HVAC systems are in use, these units cycle on as needed. The right humidity control equipment can put an end to recurring mold problems, protect wood features and other building materials and reduce or prevent unpleasant, humidity-related health issues.
We’ve been proudly serving San Marco, CA for more than two decades. We offer exceptional heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services. Our clients can also turn to us for ductless mini-splits, heat pumps, and preventative maintenance plans. To schedule an appointment, get in touch with Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning today!