Have you ever heard the abbreviation IAQ used to describe your home? “IAQ” refers to indoor air quality — and it’s more important than you might think.
Indoor air quality is a new concept to many homeowners here in Virginia. So, as home performance experts serving the Shenandoah Valley, we wanted to take a moment to share our answers to your most frequently asked questions about IAQ.
What Is IAQ?
You’ve probably thought about the pollution that’s outside your home, but have you thought about the pollution that could be inside? IAQ, or indoor air quality, refers to the quality of the air inside your home. Though a relatively new topic to many homeowners, indoor air quality has a major effect on not only your home’s structural integrity but also on the health of you and your family.
What Affects IAQ?
There could be any number of contaminants lurking in your indoor air, including mold spores, household chemicals, volatile chemical compounds (VOCs), dirt and debris, allergens, pet dander, and harmful gases like radon and carbon monoxide. It may seem like a good air filter is all you need to keep these indoor pollutants at bay, but if other parts of your home aren’t functioning properly, your IAQ is going to suffer.
For example, if the exterior of your home (or “building envelope”) has air leaks, outside pollutants are going to seep in. If your furnace malfunctions, it could send carbon monoxide (CO) into your home without your knowledge. And if your air conditioner fails to reduce indoor humidity, mold is going to grow and send off allergy-inducing mold spores.
How Can Poor IAQ Affect Me or My Family?
Often, allergy and asthma symptoms are the first sign of poor IAQ. Members of your family may develop respiratory symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, or sinus congestion. Or, you might notice physical symptoms like skin irritation, fatigue, or frequent sickness. You may even notice symptoms like mood changes, frequent headaches, or difficulty sleeping.
What Can I Do to Improve IAQ?
Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do as a homeowner to improve your IAQ. A few steps you can take yourself include checking your air filter every 30 days, choosing furnishings that are free of VOCs, using safer alternatives to household chemicals, and cleaning often to remove dust mites.
There are also a few things you should hire a professional for:
Get a ductwork evaluation to check for air leaks and obstructions
Schedule furnace maintenance to prevent CO poisoning
Install an air filtration and purification system for cleaner indoor air
Install a dehumidifier to control indoor moisture levels
Upgrade to a whole home ventilation system
Air seal and insulate to keep outdoor pollutants out
Who Can I Contact for Better IAQ?
Excel Heating & Cooling, of course! As heating and cooling specialists with a focus on indoor air quality, we offer a variety of services to help you achieve clean, healthy, and fresh indoor air. We understand how the many different aspects of a home work together to influence IAQ — meaning we can determine exactly which IAQ solutions your home needs.