You depend on your home to protect you and your family from the elements, like rain, wind, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. But what if the air inside your comfy, cozy Virginia home was actually causing a number of health symptoms for you and your family throughout the year?
You may know Excel Heating and Cooling as the home comfort experts that help keep your furnace and air conditioning system performing at its best, but our highly trained and certified team can also help you identify when you have poor indoor air quality (IAQ)! Here’s what you should know about indoor air quality pollutants, and how they can affect your health.
Air Quality Can Be Worse in Winter
As winter settles into the Shenandoah Valley, the cold temperatures keep many homeowners inside. In fact, did you know that throughout the year, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors? And, when you combine that with the fact that indoor air has been estimated to contain two to five times more air pollutants than indoor air, it can add up to causing health symptoms you may not realize are related to the air you breathe each and every day.
The reason the air inside your home is more contaminated than the air outside has a lot to do with your overall home performance. As contaminants and allergens enter your home through your open doors, leaky windows, and hidden crack and gaps throughout your home’s construction, they will circulate the ductwork and vents of your heating and cooling system.
However, unless there is a clear path for those contaminants to ventilate back outside, they will re-circulate in your breathing air and aggravate your allergy-like symptoms over and over again.
The Symptoms of Poor IAQ
There are a few indicators that air quality in your home may be compromised, like when your home smells musty, or if the air in a house is always dusty. But the symptoms to look out for can often mimic a common winter cold, including:
- Frequent headaches
- Sinus issues
- Postnasal drip
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Increased asthma symptoms
Have you noticed that as you leave for work in the morning, your sinus issues seem to go away until you return back home? Or perhaps your incessant cough only tends to return after you get back from a weekend vacation? These are signals that your home’s air contains an excessive amount of pollutants, indoor allergens, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The Contaminants of Poor IAQ
So, what are these invisible-to-the-naked-eye particles that could be affecting your health? They could be a number of things, such as:
- Pet dander
- Synthetic chemicals
- Tobacco smoke
- Carbon monoxide
- Pollen and other allergens
Contacting a professional indoor air quality contractor, like Excel, can help identify what types of contaminants and pollutants are in your breathing air, through a professional air quality test. After we are done testing the air quality in your home, the air quality experts at Excel will determine how we can best improve your breathing and overall home performance through an energy audit.
How to Increase Your Home’s IAQ
Checking your home air quality is just the first step. Once we know what is in your air, we can determine how and where those contaminants are infiltrating your breathing air. An energy audit is a diagnostic test of your home performance, and will pinpoint the areas where your home is in need of improvement. When it comes to solving indoor air quality issues, we find that often times, the most effective home upgrades are:
Air sealing is the process of locating all of the tiny holes and gaps in the construction of your home (like in the attic and the crawl space) that are allowing air to travel freely between your living space and the outdoors.
Fixing Ductwork Issues
Think of the ductwork of your home like the vascular system for your heating and cooling equipment. If there are leaks and inefficiencies in your ductwork, it is more likely that outside contaminants will seep into your conditioned air. Holes in your existing ductwork can allow dust, mold, and bacteria to thrive in your breathing air!
Ventilation & Purification
For some homes here in Virginia, we recommend installing mechanical ventilation or air purification equipment. This can include heat recovery ventilators, energy recovery ventilators, and air purification and filtration additions to your HVAC equipment.