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Indoor Air Quality

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Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality

Did you know that indoor air pollutants are frequently higher indoors than they are outdoors? Unlike outdoor air, indoor air is recycled again and again. This causes it to trap and build up pollutants. Common pollutants include dust, mold and spores, pollen, pet dander and smoke. Here are some steps you can take to improve the air quality inside your home.

Change your return air filter once a month. A dirty air filter not only compromises your indoor air quality, it also forces your air conditioner to work harder and increases your electric bill.

In the spring and fall, open your windows, go to your thermostat, turn your air conditioner to off and your fan to on. Your fan will draw fresh air into your return air opening and cycle it through your ducts.

After showering or bathing, open your bathroom window or turn on the exhaust fan until the steam has dissipated and your shower and tub are dry. This will remove excess humidity from the air. High humidity encourages mold and mildew.

If you have time to water them, place houseplants in front of some of your windows. Many plants improve air quality by absorbing and filtering out the toxins (formaldehyde and benzene) commonly found in carpets, rugs, and fibers. Plants also use photosynthesis to produce oxygen. If you have pets, especially a puppy or a young dog that likes to chew, avoid toxic plants.

Resist the temptation to burn a lot of candles. Scented candles may smell nice, but they release soot which may then be inhaled into your lungs. If you are a candle lover, limit candle burning to one hour at a time, and do not place burning candles near your air conditioning system's return air vent. You can circulate a pleasing scent throughout your home without burning candles by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your return air filter.

Be pro-active in preventing water damage which can lead to mold. If the evaporator coil in your attic does not already have a float switch, have one installed. This will shut off your air conditioner if your drains become clogged and your emergency drain pan fills with water, so that the water does not overflow into your attic or seep through your ceiling.

Have your air conditioning system inspected each spring. If the inspection reveals burned contacts on your condenser unit's contactor, have the contactor replaced. If not, there is a risk that the contacts will fuse and your air conditioner will run non-stop, causing the evaporator coil in your attic to freeze-up and defrost, leading to water damage in your ceiling. Other potential causes of water damage which can be identified and corrected during an annual inspection are clogged drain lines, dirty coils, and low refrigerant pressure.

Disposable air filters only remove fifteen percent of particles from the air. To filter out ninety-five percent of particles, ask your air conditioning technician about installing a mechanical air cleaner in your central air conditioning and heating system. A mechanical air cleaner will remove most of the allergens, dust, and micro-organisms that slip through your disposable filter. The media filter that is used in the mechanical air cleaner will need to be replaced once a year. Mechanical air cleaners are especially recommended for households in which one or more residents suffer from allergies or asthma. Homes that are subject to an above-average amount of dust or that have indoor pets can also benefit from a mechanical air cleaner.

To further sanitize your air, consider having a UV Disinfectant System installed. This system uses a powerful ultra-violet light to kill up to seventy percent of the airborne bacteria which passes through your central air conditioning and heating system. It also kills mold spores. The UV bulb utilized by the system will need to be replaced once a year. A mechanical air cleaner should always be installed with a UV Disinfectant System. If not, dust will rapidly accumulate on the surface of the UV bulb and it will not be able to disinfectant the passing air. UV Disinfectant Systems are especially recommended for homes which have been treated for mold and for households in which one or more members is suffering from an immunodeficiency.