On the less severe side of the spectrum, you can get some nasty headaches. Cleaners, air fresheners, and perfumes all have chemicals that can cause head and body aches. Maybe not the end of the world, but definitely a major inconvenience – especially if the source is in your home. You’ll have to deal with this every day.
Dust mites and mold are big contributors to allergy symptoms. If you feel stuffed up and it’s not pollen season, then the culprit could be inside your home.
Your house can have a lot of allergens swirling around in the air. The result? Allergies.
There is a unique group of illnesses that can come just from breathing poor indoor air quality. This is called Building-Related Illness (BRI) and it can be broken down into different sicknesses. The bottom line is that you can get legitimately sick from bad air in your home.
- Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). When you feel sicker the longer you stay in your home, that’s SBS. In this case, doctors won’t be able to identify the culprit through tests or screens and it’s not related to any specific illness.
- Legionnaires Disease. By breathing in the bacteria in your home, some rare cases wind up getting Legionnaires Disease. This is a type of pneumonia that doctors can test for.
- Tight Building Syndrome (TBS). If there isn’t enough airflow in your home or office, people might contract TBS. It has to do with airborne chemicals making their way into someone’s lungs and body. Symptoms are headache, difficulty concentrating, or fatigue.
To put a terrifying bow on how IAQ can impact you, let’s talk about cancer. If you breathe in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your home over time, you might wind up with lung cancer.
What are Volatile Organic Compounds
These mostly come from man-made products that can be found around the house. When you use these products, VOCs are a byproduct that get released into your home’s air. Some of these products are:
- Paint strippers
- Build materials
- Spray Foam
- Copiers and printers
- Permanent markers
- Glues and adhesives
- Cleaning supplies
- Some types of paper
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes, like Spray Foam. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released or “off-gassed” into the indoor air we breathe. These VOCs can give you headaches, internal organ damage, nose, eye, and mouth irritation, and even cancer.
Keep in mind, your body can’t process these compounds, they build up over time. This means that VOCs are more harmful the longer they stay in your home. In a second you’ll learn how to get rid of dangerous airborne threats like these. First, there’s another indoor irritant that you’ll want to get rid of, and that’s humidity.
Dealing with Humidity Can Make You Feel Better
It seems like the humidity never stops in South Carolina. Half of the time it feels like you can drink the air. Humid air isn’t just a problem outside, it’s a huge problem inside your home.
Humidity Leads to Mold, Mildew, and Mites
The four M’s you want to keep out of your home are mold, mildew, mites, and people using the word “moist”. Unfortunately, we can only help with the first three, which happen to all be caused by high humidity.
Mold, mildew and mites can make their way into your body through the air you breathe, just like the pollutants we talked about earlier. Once there, they can create new breathing problems and make old ones worse – like asthma, damage to your lungs, and restricted breathing.
Humidity Makes You Feel Hotter
It’s not just your breathing that gets worse, it’s your level of comfort, too. The optimal humidity level within a home should be around 50-55%. Even when your thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature, humidity can make you feel like you’re overheating.
The moisture in the air disrupts your body’s ability to sweat and get rid of excess heat. Don’t get us started about trying to sleep in an overly humid bedroom.
You’ll toss and turn all night and lose sleep which makes things even worse. How do you get rid of humidity, airborne bacteria, pollutants, and cancer-causing VOCs? Great question.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality (and Feel Healthier)
We’re not going to leave you on a cliffhanger. Let’s get into the weeds and talk about how you can get those air contaminants out of your house (yes, even the COVID and cancer-causing ones).
#1: Change Your Air Filters
The first option is surprisingly easy – changing your air filters. Your HVAC system has filters built in, and these guys don’t last forever.
An HVAC system will take dirty air, pass it through filters, and return cleaner air. Filters are the reason why cleaner air can be returned in the first place.
There are tiny holes in the filter that can trap microscopic particles as the air passes through, and these holes can vary in size. Different hole sizes trap different types of airborne contaminants, this is what helps determine the MERV rating of each filter.
Over time, these holes clog up (regardless of their size), so your filter doesn’t work as well. It might fail to remove contaminants from your air and instead just swirl them around your house. A clogged filter also means your HVAC system can be straining to cycle the air flow, which can lead to other breakdowns.
If you’re overdue for a filter replacement, harmful bacteria can already be present in your home. Putting in a new air filter can also help your HVAC equipment run better, just make sure you use the right MERV rating.
For something like this, you could use a professional’s help. Our team of HVAC experts can provide maintenance services to change your air filters and answer any future questions you may have about your home’s filters.
#2: Upgrade Your HVAC System
Upgrading or adding to your home’s HVAC system is one way to improve the quality of your air.
Installing an air purifier. You can install cutting-edge air purification options from Carolina Comfort Inc. that can be added to your current HVAC system or installed as a stand-alone unit.
Increase your ventilation. In general, the more you ventilate, the cleaner your air should be. Ventilation is the process of pulling dirty air out of your room and replacing it will clean air. This makes the air in rooms like your kitchen, bathroom, attic, and basement healthier to breathe.
#3: Get a Dehumidifier
As mentioned above, humidity in your home can affect the quality of your air. That is why we recommend installing a dehumidifier if you have issues with humidity in your home or business. There are three major types, but all of them aim to lower your indoor humidity by pulling the moisture out of the air.
Heat Pump Dehumidifier
When you combine a fan, heat pump, and heat exchange coils in an effort to wick moisture from the air, you get a heat pump dehumidifier. This works in two parts: while it makes your air less humid, it also cools the air and acts like a normal heat pump.
A dehumidifying ventilator uses a fan and a sensor to get rid of the humid air and pump it outside. You’ll see these a lot in attics, crawl spaces, and basements – the especially humid areas of your home.
Chemical Absorbent Dehumidifier
You might also call a chemical absorbent option a “desiccant dehumidifier”. It uses chemicals that absorb moisture (desiccants) like silica gel. These come in replaceable cartridges so you can change them out routinely.
Preventative Maintenance to Boost Indoor Air Quality
If you want continually healthy air in your home, then you should look for routine preventative maintenance. Let our technicians at Carolina Comfort Inc. inspect your system twice a year. Our annual HVAC maintenance contracts will make you a preferred customer and help boost your indoor air quality.
Take a Breath of Fresh Air (in Your Home)
Clean air in your home is the foundation of a healthy, comfortable, and happy family. Schedule an appointment and one of our qualified techs from Carolina Comfort Inc. will come take a look at your air system. We’ll teach you more about the available indoor air quality equipment that can help.
Give us a call today so you can take a breath of fresh air in your home.