Texas Home Contractor Indoor Air Quality Evaluations 888-804-7775
Air Quality Testing Services in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio
Did you know that the air inside your home, that you and your family are breathing, may be more polluted that the outside air? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that if a home is not properly ventilated, it can raise the indoor pollutant levels, causing the air quality in your home to become hazardous which may cause serious and long term health issues.
Many people spend much of their time indoors breathing unforeseen pollutants not recognized by our senses. Whether you are in your home, office or school, pollutants like chemicals. Gases, mold, bacteria and pests can cause severe health risks and in some cases even death. Pollutants can cause sore nose and throats, burning eyes, fatigue, headaches, respiratory illnesses, cancer, heart disease and worsen your allergies. Some pollutants like carbon monoxide may even cause death. Educating yourself on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is often overlooked but is of great importance for the safety of yourself and family members.
Here is a list of some pollutants that may enter your home or business;
- Radon: a radioactive gas, formed in the soil that enters your home through cracks and openings in your walls and floors, which touch, or are in contact with the outside ground or soil. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer overall behind smoking. You can test your home with a do-it-yourself radon testing kit available at your local hardware store. If you do discover radon is in your home call a certified radon mitigation specialist.
- Secondhand Smoke: burning tobacco products can cause serious respiratory illnesses and cancer especially around children. It can worsen asthma symptoms, increase ear infections and cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Combustion Pollutants: Gases and particles that come from burning materials such as wood, in your fireplace and natural or propane gas from your appliances that are not properly vented. Some of these appliances may include your cooktop, range, oven, water heater, dryer, space heater and fireplace. The amounts and types of these pollutants depend on the type of appliance, how well the appliance has been installed, ventilated and maintained and what kind of fuel does it use.
A list of combustion pollutants are;
- Carbon Monoxide (CO): an odorless and colorless gas that prevents oxygen from circulating throughout your body. Can cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, dizziness and in some cases death. Forced Air Units (FAU) can create carbon monoxide. FAU’s transfer heat through the air using ducts, plenums and vents. The supply plenum takes the air from the return plenum, heats it up with a heat exchanger/element or coil and distributes it throughout the home using a blower. Thermostats are used to control the amount of heat the FAU will distribute.
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2): an odorless and colorless gas that may cause respiratory infection, shortness of breath and eye, ear, nose and throat irritation.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): chemicals that are found in paints, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, lacquers, pesticides, varnishes, moth repellents, air fresheners, waxes, dry-cleaned clothes, office furniture and building materials. VOCs can cause headaches, nausea, irritate the eyes, ears and throat and damage the kidneys, liver and central nervous system. VOCs are released into the atmosphere from products while they are being used and stored.
Other pollutants that may be in your home:
- Molds and Mildew: there are thousands of different strains of mold. Mold is living entities that produce spores that float in the air and when they land on wet or damp surfaces they start to grow and reproduce. Depending on the type of mold will determine the danger of that specific strain. High indoor humidity caused by poor ventilation, inadequate air exchange, improper water management and faulty and poor construction can spur mold growth. Mold can and will grow anywhere there is moisture in your home, so the key to mold control is moisture control. Water damaged areas will spur mold growth within 24-48 hours. If you see or smell mold in your home or business the best thing to do is to clean it up promptly and fix any water leaks. If it is abundant and you are unsure if it is dangerous or not call a Mold Restoration Specialist to test and properly remove it.
- Asthma Triggers: pet dander, mold, dust mites and secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks. These attacks can cause wheezing, coughing, chest problems and loss of breath. Asthma is a serious condition that affects millions of Americans and can have deadly consequences.
| Proper ventilation is key to improving your indoor air quality
|The American society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning (ASHRAE) along with several states including; Vermont, Washington and Minnesota have designed ventilation standards to insure proper Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Proper ventilation can control both airborne contaminants and indoor relative humidity which can cause health hazards.Relative humidity should be between 30-50% inside your home. You can purchase a humidity or moisture gauge at your local hardware store to ensure that your home remains at a good level. If you want to increase your humidity you can use a vaporizer or humidifier. If you want to decrease your humidity turn on your air conditioner, adjust your humidifier or open the windows if it is not humid outside.
Make sure that you change your filters on your air conditioning unit regularly, approximately every 3 months. Some experts recommend that you use filters with a MERV 6-8, increasing the MERV levels will help trap smaller particles and are generally better for people with allergies and asthma.
There are two types of ventilation that will help you control airborne contaminants and relative humidity. Spot ventilation is where air is drawn out and ventilated to the outside atmosphere, like your exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen. It is good practice to run your exhaust fans approximately 1 hour after a shower and cooking to remove pollutants and humidity. Dilution ventilation is where your air conditioner, fans and windows bring in new fresh air therefore diluting the airborne contaminants and humidity. Ensure that your ducts are sealed properly especially on the return side. For more information you can contact the Air Conditioning Contractor Association (ACCA).
Oversizing your HVAC system can create insufficient dehumidification, which promotes mold and mildew growth and poor air distribution. “Short Cycle” means that your system will not run long enough to distribute the air sufficiently. Some contractors will oversize your system to compensate for duct leakage. Ensure that your HVAC system is checked regularly so mold, mildew and bacteria is not present and spreading it throughout your home.
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