When it comes to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), there is a lot of misinformation out there. It’s a shame, because poor IAC can affect everyone in a household, causing everything from breathing problems to headaches. In some cases, poor IAQ can even cause safety issues. It is an important topic that many homeowners overlook.
We are here to bust some of the myths around air quality and your home! Let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions we encounter while out in the field.
1. Air Pollution Is Only An Outdoor Problem.
Not true! Indoor air quality can be drastically more polluted and unhealthy than air outdoors. It can seem counterintuitive, but consider this – most modern homes are sealed to keep air from escaping, in order to create an environment that is the right temperature and humidity. When air doesn’t have a chance to circulate, with old air leaving the home and new, fresh air coming in, that means pollutants have a chance to build up and stay in your home. And that dirty air can cause health problems.
2. Indoor Air Quality Doesn’t Affect Your Health.
It definitely does, particularly in situations where air quality is especially poor. Bad IAQ can lead to symptoms such as headaches, runny nose, chronic coughing, itchy eyes, rashes, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. It can also contribute to conditions like asthma.
3. Only People With Breathing Problems Should Worry About Air Quality.
False – even people who are completely healthy can develop physical symptoms associated with poor air quality. One sign that the home might be the problem is if symptoms go away when you leave the house and enter different indoor environments.
4. I Don’t Need To Worry About Clean Ductwork.
Think of the ductwork as the lungs of your home – they circulate air through your HVAC system and then into the rooms of your house, providing comfort. But while all that air is moving, it is collecting dust, dirt, dander, and other tiny particles that can end up in the ducts. Sure, filters help remove most of this (if you are caring for them on a regular basis), but some of it still ends up settling in the ducts. This extra stuff recirculates back into the air you breathe…gross.
Clean ducts can help to keep the air in your home cleaner, not to mention reduce the amount of dust and dirt that settles on the surfaces of your home. If you notice an increase in the amount of dust hanging around, it is probably time to consider having your ducts cleaned.
5. Burning Candles and Using Air Fresheners Doesn’t Affect Indoor Air Quality.
When the air in your home smells a little funky, it can be tempting to light a scented candle or reach for a bottle of air freshener. The problem is, these products often contain harmful chemicals or create them through the process of burning low quality wicks and wax. If you use these products often, they build up in your home, lowering air quality.
As an alternative, try using an aromatherapy diffuser, beeswax or soy wax candles, or even a simmer pot of herbs on your stove for a cleaner way to freshen your space.
6. Cleaning and Home Repair Products Are All Safe For My Home’s Air Quality.
Nope. Much like candles and air fresheners, cleaning supplies and home repair solutions seem safe – they wouldn’t be on the market otherwise, right? Well, it’s true that they are safe when used in well-ventilated spaces. If the air doesn’t have the chance to circulate, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are contained in the fumes of these products get stuck in your home.
To reduce the chances of bringing harmful fumes into your home, look for non-toxic cleaning supplies and home improvement products labeled “Low VOC.”
7. My Home Is New, So I Must Have Better Indoor Air Quality.
This is a huge misconception, and rightfully so – who would think that a brand new home would have major air quality issues? It’s new!
The problem is that new homes also have a lot of VOCs hanging around, thanks to the construction materials used in the building process. Add to that the fact that newer homes are build to be much more airtight then their counterparts fifty years ago, and you end up with a bubble of air pollution trapped inside a beautiful new home. Ensuring that proper ventilation systems are part of construction will help you to air the home out after building has been completed.
8. Air Cleaners Aren’t Worth The Investment.
This one is a little tricks, because there are a lot of products out there that claim to “clean the air,” but actually do very little to improve indoor air quality. But if your home has major issues with dust, dander, and dirt, even after taking every precaution in the book, an air cleaner may be a worthwhile investment – as long as you purchase a quality product. For a whole home system, talk to a reputable HVAC company that can help you pick out a system that will work with your home and needs. If you are purchasing a portable air cleaner, do some research – read reviews and be sure to buy something from a well-known company.
9. Getting Fresh Air In Winter Means Having To Open Windows.
Many homeowners believe that you have to sacrifice comfort for fresh air during the winter months, but it doesn’t have to be that way! High quality ventilation systems and fans can help you circulate old, stale air while bringing in fresh air from outside…all with the windows closed.
10. There is No Way For Me To Monitor My Home’s Air Quality Without A Professional.
Thanks to the proliferation of smart devices and home technology, it is now easier than ever to monitor your home’s indoor air quality. There are many different monitors available on the market, ranging from those that only provide information on potential safety issues like fire or carbon monoxide, to units that provide information on VOCs, humidity levels, and other pollutants. It all depends on how much money you want to invest in the technology.
For a low budget way to monitor your air quality, just check in with how you feel and the dust buildup in your home. If you start to see signs of increased buildup, or notice that you are feeling bad in your home but fine when you leave, then that is the first indication of a problem.