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The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

The Importance of Indoor Air Quality

Why is indoor air quality so important?

Winter is coming and now is the time to think about your indoor air quality. Did you ever think the air inside your home could be more contaminated than the air outside? It can! During the summer months we have dust, smoke, pollens, and other air born particulates and allergens that can clog up a filter or your air conditioning coil. But in the winter we leave our homes closed up to the outdoors, which can create an even worse environment with all of these same pollutants as well as cold and flu viruses.

During the winter months we leave windows and doors shut so we can heat our homes, but this can create a petri dish of bacteria and viruses right along with a noticeable buildup of dust and pet hair. Because your home’s heating system moves this air around throughout your home it’s critical to look at what you use to filter your air. Ductwork off of your central HVAC system can be cleaned professionally to remove years of build-up and aid in cleaning your indoor air, usually every 7-10 years is recommended.

Periodically cleaning the grills and registers throughout your home can also help reduce transmission of dust and dirt into your system. Whatever does make it into your ductwork will then have to be captured by your filter. The average throw-away paper or mesh filter has about a 30-90 day lifespan. They typically carry a M.E.R.V. (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating anywhere form 4-10. The MERV rating is a standard for measuring the effectiveness of an air filter – the higher the value the better it works at trapping the smallest of particles. Some higher end pleated HEPA or box type filters can achieve ratings up to MERV 20.

What else can I do to protect my indoor air?

There are various electronic air cleaners and downstream cleaning products available for most heating and cooling systems. An EAC (Electronic Air Cleaner) replaces the filter box in your ductwork. The EAC positively charges the airborne particles coming back into your furnace through your return air ducts and uses a series of pre-filters and cells that become negatively charged to not only capture particulates and bacteria but in some cases eliminate them. You can significantly reduce bacteria, mold and even viruses such as influenza. An Electronic Air Cleaner can run you from $400-500 (before professional installation) to well over $1000.

A third method is usually installed downstream from your filter and furnace. Products like the Air Scrubber Plus use a combination of germicidal UV light in combination with oxygen & hydrogen to all but eliminate those same bacteria and viruses, along with many VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds or chemical vapors) and odors from cooking or pets. The honeycomb cell around the UV light waves is titanium coated to catalyze the scrubbing oxygen and hydrogen particles that are then sent out into your air to attack and destroy contaminants. These systems can run more than $1200 and need the UV cell replaced after 24 months.

If you have asthma, are an allergy sufferer, or prone to colds and sinus issues, then an upgraded indoor air quality purifier may help reduce your symptoms. If you are unsure of what you need or can do with your current HVAC system, call the indoor air quality experts at The Barton Boys today for a FREE consultation!