Portland HVAC Specialists Share 5 Steps to a Healthier Home
In 2018 Oregon’s air quality index was on every news channel. Smoke from wildfires across the West Coast descended into Portland. In fact, in August 2018, Portland’s air quality was “ranked as the second-worst among major cities worldwide.” Later in the year, when a U.S. Forest Service report revealed high levels of heavy metal in Portland’s air, an investigation was launched. One company faced a lawsuit from residents for contributing to toxic air pollution.
When outdoor air quality takes a nosedive, it makes news. But what about indoor quality?
What can cause poor indoor air quality?
According the the EPA, there are myriad pollutant sources inside a residential home. These sources can release particles or gases and poor ventilation can add to this problem, increasing pollutant levels.
Some pollutant sources include:
- Inefficient HVAC systems
- Excess moisture
- Building materials as well as newly installed carpet or flooring
- Household cleaning products
These are just a few things that can lower the air quality in your home. If you’d like more information about this topic from our AAA Heating and Cooling, we have a variety of additional informative resources. We also invite you to contact us if you’re interested in how we can maintain your air quality system.
What are the health effects of poor indoor air quality?
There are more and more articles written by reputable companies that show indoor air quality is now a greater hazard to your health than outdoor air pollution. In fact, “the concentration of pollutants in a home can be up to five times higher than outdoor concentrations, even in the most polluted cities.”
The health effects of these hazards can range from mild fatigue to severe respiratory distress. There is no one solution to mitigating all of these hazards to eliminate all indoor air pollution, but by taking action on some or all of the following steps will set you on the right path to a healthier home.
Step 1: Get to know your home.
Let’s debunk the myth that indoor air pollution is more common in older homes!
Newly constructed and remodeled homes also contribute to indoor air pollution. A tighter building envelope will increase the home’s energy efficiency, but also better capture pollutants. They do a great job of containing the off-gassing of new paints, construction materials, cabinetry, and new carpets.
One solution is what’s referred to as Heat Recovery Ventilators or Energy Recovery Ventilators (HRV and ERV). These systems are designed to remove stale or polluted air in the home, exhaust it to the outside and then bring in fresh air.
Step 2: Know what’s in the air you breathe.
Many homes in Vancouver and the Portland-metro area have issues with Radon, which can be leading cause of lung cancer. Radon rises up from the ground under your home and this radioactive gas can infiltrate it quite easily. Once again, the solution here can be accurately identified with an inexpensive testing kit. You can also get a more comprehensive assessment from a qualified professional.
Step 3: Reduce the use of chemical-based cleaners.
Household cleaners, pesticides, and even store bought air fresheners can affect your home’s air quality and, in turn, your health. Pay very close attention to the labels on household cleaning products. If possible, try switching to natural products that contain fewer toxic chemicals. Something most people don’t think about is recently dry-cleaned clothes, which can emit a number of harmful chemicals into the air.
Step 4: Use high-quality furnace filters and replace one a month.
Traditional filters are designed to simply keep large particles, like hair and dust bunnies, from damaging the furnace fan blower. New designs in furnace filtration are now capable of 95% efficiency down to a five micron size particle or better (the average human hair is 100 microns thick). There are also filtration systems designed to purify the air and eliminate anything of a chemical nature from the air you breathe.
Step 5: Go green and get to growing.
Have you watered your houseplants lately? Houseplants are by far the easiest, least costly, and a visually appealing solution to cleaner indoor air. Plants can do a great job of removing toxins from the home. Some plants do work harder than others. A few that have been shown to work really well are: Areca Palms, rubber plants, and Dracaena (one of the easiest houseplants to grow). A good rule (of green thumb) is to use two plants per 100 square feet.
Contact Our Vancouver & Portland HVAC Specialists
Our HVAC company proudly serves Vancouver and the Portland-metro area. We know the Pacific Northwest and have called it home for over half a century! This means we know how to help our customers choose the best HVAC system for their home’s unique needs. What’s more? We can install and regularly maintain your HVAC system. Plus, we offer 24-hour emergency HVAC service. Get in touch today. We look forward to hearing from you!