How Can I Improve My Home’s Indoor Air Quality?
Everyone knows about pollution outside.
But did you know that there’s worse pollution inside the comfort of your own home?
We’re not kidding.
According to this report, the air in your home could be 2-5 times more polluted than the air outside.
But how? Aren’t all the fossil fuel emissions and smog outside?
Your home is a confined, insulated space – pollutants build up in higher concentrations, unlike the outdoors. This is why the air inside your home could actually be worse for you than the air outside.
What’s Polluting the Air In My Home?
The following biological and chemical pollutants can be present in your air:
- Dust mites
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Carbon monoxide
- Dust and particulates
How Does This Affect Me?
Poor indoor air quality can have a serious impact on your health. You can experience:
- Sore eyes, ears, nose and throat
- Aggravated allergies
- Elevated asthma
The worse the air quality in your home, the more extreme the health consequences become.
How Can I Breathe Better and Cleaner Air?
There are a few things that can help you and your family breathe easier.
1. Invest in HEPA Filters and Purifiers
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters and purifiers are a must for anyone trying to improve air quality in their home.
HEPA filters are designed to absorb 99.9% of microscopic particles in the air, and can remove dangerous pollutants from your home. You can use them in your air conditioner, vacuum, and other filtration systems.
Clean All Your Filters Regularly
Whatever kind of filters you have, make sure to clean them regularly.
Filters that are clogged with dust and debris will stop filtering effectively. That means more pollutants left in your air.
2. Pay Attention to Humidity Levels
Your home’s ideal humidity level is between 30-50%. Anything more, and you start to feel like you’re living in a swamp.
High humidity is bad for your indoor air quality. It spawns mould and dust mites, which spread allergens and pollutants.
The worst part is that a lot of the things we do without thinking – like showering or cooking – add humidity to the air. This only makes the problem worse, particularly in the summer.
There are a few things you can do to reduce humidity:
- Install a whole-home dehumidifier
- Use your air conditioner
- Use ventilation fans when cooking
- Take shorter – or cooler – showers
- Hang damp clothing outside to dry
By paying attention to the humidity levels in your home, and doing what you can to keep them in the sweet spot of 30-50%, you’ll improve your home indoor air quality.
3. Inspect for Mould
Mould thrives in warm, damp spaces, and is absolutely terrible for your home indoor air quality. Look for it near pipes, on walls, and in dark spaces where ventilation doesn’t reach.
If you do find it, try removing it with warm water and soap.
There are times you should call in a professional when you have mould. For example, if you see it in your ducts, you should have a professional duct cleaning.
4. Keep All Surfaces Clean
Being clean isn’t just about looking put-together when company comes over. It can actually make your home a healthier place to be.
You should not only concentrate on removing dirt and debris, but on doing it in the most effective way possible. Here are a few things to try:
Use eco-friendly cleaners without harsh chemicals – those are just adding more pollutants to your air.
Get a vacuum with good suction, a HEPA filter, and multiple brushes so you can reach every nook and cranny on every surface. You should vacuum at least once a week – more if you have pets or lots of indoor activity.
Invest in a microfibre mop for floors. Microfibre is an eco-friendly cleaning product that doesn’t spread around bacteria and pollutants the way more traditional mops do.
Use natural air fresheners and scent products. Things like aerosol spray or plugins can release more than just good smells. Try using essential oils, citrus, herbs, and houseplants instead.
5. Get Plenty of Fresh Air
There’s a reason the phrase ‘breath of fresh air’ means good things.
It’s important to keep introducing fresh air into your home. You can do this in 2 ways:
- Open the windows. This is easy, but can be wasteful when you’re trying to heat or cool your home. For that reason, we recommend restricting open air time to when the furnace or AC isn’t running, or for just a few minutes at a time.
- Install an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). As of 2017, all new homes must have an ERV or HRV installed, but they’re great for any home that is tightly insulated. An ERV will pull in fresh outdoor air while sending out polluted indoor air: but through a recovery process, you don’t lose the energy you spent warming or cooling your air.
If you’re home indoor air quality is particularly bad, an ERV may be your best solution.
6. Look After Your Own Health and Well-Being
Wherever we go, whatever we do, we’re picking up germs and bacteria and bringing them back home – especially when we get sick.
By taking care of your own health and well-being, you can minimize the bad bacteria affecting your home air quality – and spare yourself from a couple of extra colds!
7. Maintain All of Your Appliances
Gas-burning appliances can have a negative effect on your home’s air quality if they aren’t safely used and properly maintained.
In the worst-case scenarios, they can spring a carbon monoxide (CO) leak – and that could kill you.
Have your furnace, oven, and any other gas-appliances serviced regularly.
You should also make sure you have working CO and smoke detectors.
8. Test for Radon
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that has radioactive qualities. It is odourless and colourless.
In large doses, it can have serious effects on your health, and is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
You can either hire a professional to test for radon levels in your home, or purchase a DIY-kit.
If you do it yourself, please remember: a low level of radon is normal, and should not be cause for worry. In Canada, the benchmark level is 200 becquerels/metre³. Anything above that, and you should consult with a professional.
Talk to Ottawa Home Services About Your Indoor Air Quality
At Ottawa Home Services, we have a wide variety of products that can help you improve your home indoor air quality.
We also have the experts that can help you decide what’s going to work best.
Talk to us about how to create better, cleaner indoor air today.