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Common Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality and Steps you can take to Improve it

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

When you think of air pollution, you probably think about outdoor air and the harmful effects from car emissions, industrial smoke stacks, smog, and acid rain. But there is emerging evidence that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. According to the EPA, levels of indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. In this month’s blog, the home comfort specialists at Main Stream Mechanical identify the sources of indoor air pollutants and steps you can take to clear the air.

Common Indoor Air Pollutants

Trapped within your airtight home, indoor air pollutants can increase the health risks to you and your family. These pollutants are found in everyday household items including:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that are released into the air through a process called off-gassing. VOCs come from household items such as paints, cleaners, pesticides, printers, glues and permanent markers.

  • Tobacco Smoke from indoor smoking not only leaves nicotine stains on your clothes and furnishings, but this air pollutant can cause serious respiratory problems for smokers and non-smokers residing in the same home.

  • Exhaust from furnaces, stoves and fireplaces can seep combustion pollutants inside your home if not vented properly.

  • Radon is a radioactive gas that is created from uranium found deep in the ground. Radon can enter your house through dirt floors, cracks in concrete, and even through floor drains.

  • Allergens from animal dander, pollen, and mold can cause a variety of respiratory problems.

Steps to Improve the Quality of your Indoor Air

While pollution from a single source may not pose a health issue, there can be serious health concerns from the cumulative effects of several sources. Here are six steps you can take to minimize your risk.

1. Replace Air Filters - Clean filters can trap most pollutants, minimizing the amount of indoor air pollution. Some systems can wait three months in between filter changes, but during periods of heavy use, filters should be changed monthly.

2. Add an Air Purification System - Installed in the ducts, an HVAC air purifier can improve the air quality in your home by removing dust, mold, and bacteria from the air circulated throughout your space by your HVAC system.

3. Schedule Regular HVAC Maintenance - Regular maintenance of your HVAC system enables it to operate efficiently, increases its longevity, and produces improved indoor air quality. During your appointment, an expert home comfort specialist will look for signs of stress, clean out dirt and debris, and test and replace worn parts.

4. Open Windows and Doors - Introduce new fresh air into your home by keeping windows and doors open for at least 15 minutes a day. Combined with an efficient ventilation system, open windows can flush out indoor air pollutants, keeping levels low.

5. Control Humidity Levels - An indoor humidifier/dehumidifier can help maintain ideal indoor humidity levels, which can help prevent mold and mildew growth.

6. Update your Lifestyle - Making a few tweaks to your routine, such as limiting smoking to outdoor spaces, and grooming your pets regularly, can reduce the amount of pet dander and smoke.

HVAC Installation, Maintenance and Repair in NH and MA

If you’re due for your next HVAC maintenance check or have questions about your system, contact our home comfort specialists to schedule an appointment. Our expertly trained technicians can assess your system to ensure it’s meeting the specific needs of your household.


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