12 Steps to Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
1. Test your Indoor Air Quality
If your family is sensitive to mold, you may conduct tests for mold only; or you can do a comprehensive test with a complete breakdown of your air makeup, helping you decide where problem areas lie. These tests are relatively inexpensive and readily available, and are a great starting point for improving the air quality in your home, giving you an idea of which areas to tackle first. After employing these 12 strategies, test the indoor air quality again to confirm whether or not you have removed dangerous elements from your breathing air.
2. Make your home smoke-free
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), often known as “second hand smoke,” is very harmful and can lead to serious health problems such as chronic sinusitis and lung cancer in adults and lower respiratory tract infections in children. Taking smoking outside reduces concentrations of toxic chemicals and carcinogens found in ETS and is an important factor in improving indoor air quality in the home or office.
3. Improving ventilation improves indoor air quality
Ventiliation is easily improved by leaving doors between rooms open as well as opening windows whenever possible. Exhaust fans should be used in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms to vent moisture and chemicals directed outdoors. Quiet, energy-efficient fans can be used for these applications.
4. Control household humidity levels
Keeping low humidity levels is important in controlling the growth of toxic mold and other biological contaminants. This can be done by eliminating water leaks and sources of standing water. Also use your air conditioner, and install dehumidifiers in problem areas such as basements. Keep the dehumidifier clean and free from mold, as they can become sources of pollution if contaminated. If you live in a high humidity part of the country, home mold testing is recommended to ensure clean air.
5. Have your HVAC system cleaned
Much more important than cleaning your duct work is having your HVAC system cleaned. Your A/C drip pan could be holding water and growing mold which will then be blown directly into your air ducts and out through the vents. The blowers for your HVAC may not have been cleaned in years, and could have built up dirt and dust and could also be harboring dust mites and toxic molds. Lastly, the condenser coils may have rust and corrosion buildup, which is not only harmful to air quality, but also decreases your HVAC system’s efficiency, increasing energy costs. A thorough furnace and A/C system cleaning varies greatly in price from company to company, but this can improve your HVAC system’s cooling and heating efficiency and save you money in the long run. Supervise the work to make sure all critical components of the HVAC system are cleaned — once they are placed back in the system, they are out of sight.
6. Prevent Carbon Monoxide poisoning
Any fuel-burning household appliance (gas stoves, hot water heaters, clothes dryers, etc.) can potentially release harmful chemicals as byproducts of combustion. All such appliances should be inspected by a qualified technician once a year. You should also monitor the indoor air quality of your home by installing Carbon Monoxide detectors, especially near bedrooms.
7. Clean and Vacuum Regularly
Airborne dust particles, microscopic insect droppings, and mold spores cause allergic reactions and asthma outbreaks. Cleaning regularly can help control indoor air quality. Vacuum rugs and carpets at least once a week. Consider a vacuum equipped with an allergen reducer or HEPA filter, which prevents reintroducing allergens and fine particles back into the air. Wipe down or dust any hard surfaces regularly, and clean up mold near sinks, water pipes, or bathtubs immediately to prevent releasing allergenic or toxic spores into the air.
8. Control Dust Mites
To combat the growth of dust mites, a common cause of indoor allergy symptoms, bedding should always be washed in hot water (at least 130° F). You might consider using allergen-free cases on your mattresses and pillows. Your children’s blankets and stuffed toys can harbor dust mites as well; wash them regularly in hot water to keep your children safe from allergies and asthma triggers.
9. Put a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your air handling system
Using a HEPA Filter with help keep particles out of the air and off of the ductwork of your heating and cooling systems. Filters should be replaced with regularity, every 1-2 months depending on how much the system is running. Proper use and maintenance will help improve indoor air quality and increase time between necessary Air Duct Cleanings.
10. Exhaust Gas Appliances
Make sure gas stoves are fitted with a hood fan that exhausts directly outside. Using a hood fan and/or an open window while cooking will help improve indoor air quality, and prevent Carbon Monoxide contamination.
11. Be aware of toxic chemicals found in household cleaning products and pesticides
Household cleaning products & pesticides should be used only according to manufacturers’ directions. Keep your house well ventilated while using. In order to help preserve your home’s indoor air quality, store harmful chemicals and volatile compounds (paints, solvents, cleaners and pesticides) away from occupied spaces and air ventilation intakes. If you have aggravated sensitivity to certain chemicals, consider a home air cleaner with gas-phase filtration to keep chemical concentrations from reaching irritating levels.
12. Purchase a home air purifier
Running an air purifier in your home will help keep indoor pollutants at low levels. Used in conjunction with the HEPA filter you’ve added to your heating and cooling system (Step 9), a home air cleaner using HEPA filter technology, ionic air purification, activated carbon, or a hybrid of these technologies can keep the air in your home clean and healthy.
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- You can earn rebates from KCP&L and federal tax credits for home improvements you may already be considering. You’ll reduce your electricity use and get money in your pocket.