Does someone in your family suffer from allergies or some other respiratory problem? Someone in my family does, and we know how it can result in missed days of school, recurring visits to the doctor, and misery for the person suffering. It’s the reason that I am so personally passionate about indoor air quality.
I see the difference it made when I finally addressed the issues that were under my control:
Ventilation – a system for exchanging the air in your home for fresh air continually.
Humidity Management – in summer you want to reduce humidity while in winter you need to raise the humidity.
Filtration – Every HVAC system has a filter, both ducted and ductless. They require regular replacement, as frequently as monthly during high-use periods of the year.
Purification – You have several options for purifying the air as it flows through your HVAC system. Air purifiers eliminate 99.999% of airborne pathogens, viruses, bacteria, VOCs, and other contaminants too small for your filtration system to capture.
If you are already a customer of ours or if you know me, this is probably not the first time you’ve heard me say these things. We have a child who suffered because of the quality of the air in our very clean home, so when I addressed the issues I listed above, and everyone in my family felt better, I became a true believer in the importance of good indoor air quality. Especially, as I said, if you have someone in your family who is always fighting some kind of crud, has known allergies or a known respiratory condition.
So today when I was having my morning coffee and checking in on LinkedIn, I came across a great example of what can happen when you don’t manage your indoor air quality, and further, do not regularly maintain your HVAC system by having appropriate seasonal furnace clean and checks in the fall and air conditioner tune-ups in the spring.
Check it out, and be sure to read the comments.
If you have read this far, you have already begun the process of addressing the quality of the air in your home. Here’s the advice I give to my friends, family, and customers.
1. Change your media filter. If you haven’t changed your system’s filter, run down to Home Depot or Lowe’s and buy a 3-pack of the filter that fits your system. If you’re not sure what that is, take your existing filter out of the system and take it with you to the store where someone will help you buy the right one.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, call us, we can help.
2. Check the humidity in the rooms you use the most. Your indoor air should be at 40% to 60% relative humidity. When you buy your filters you can also pick up whatever home humidity monitor they carry at the store, or you can purchase systems online that will monitor the humidity in several rooms at once. Humidity has a huge impact on the health of the humans in your home, but it also affects the structural elements and anything in your home that is made of wood, like a piano and hardwood flooring.
In a pinch, you can do the old “ice water in a glass” test where you fill a glass with ice and water, give it a few minutes, and see if condensation builds up on the outside of the glass, indicating some level of relative humidity in the room.
Place two or three ice cubes into a glass, add water, and stir. Wait three minutes. If moisture does not form on the outside of the glass, the air is too dry; you may need a humidifier. (Do not perform this test in the kitchen. Cooking vapors may produce inaccurate results.
3. Introduce fresh air into your home. When the weather is not too hot or cold, you can accomplish this by simply blowing a fan out an open window. This will create airflow that will push contaminated air out of your home while drawing cleaner, fresh air into your home.
During the times of year when the weather is too hot and too cold to leave your windows open, I recommend a product called an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). They are made by a bunch of different companies and they all operate the same way. They enable your HVAC system to pull fresh air into the air handler while preserving the heating or cooling your system is producing.
These systems are designed to exchange the air in your home five times per hour to ensure that you are breathing fresh, clean air. Fresh because it’s being pulled in from outside, clean because outdoor air is 10X cleaner than indoor air and you are running it through your filter. This provides a huge improvement in the quality and healthiness of the air in your home.
4. Purify the air flowing through your HVAC system. There is no home remedy for this. I recommend one of the UV light-based accessories that are installed in your system’s air handler.
We install the UV Light in a place where all the air flowing through your system flows over the air purifier. Just like the sun’s UV rays are harmful to organisms, the UV light produced by this system kills 99.999% of all germs, bacteria, pollen, and viruses that are floating in your home’s air. Once killed, these particulates bunch up into pieces large enough for your media filter to capture.
When we installed one in our home, I was immediately struck by how quickly the smell of cooking fish was filtered out of the air on that first night with the air scrubber.
Way back in the fall of 2019, when nobody here knew the word “coronavirus”, we were trying to explain to customers the value of good indoor air quality and how improving our own indoor air quality helped to improve our family’s overall health. We sent out an email to everyone and recommended you “Give your home a flu shot.” by installing a proper humidity management system, an ERV, and an air scrubber.
Riffing on the food pyramid we have all come to know, I came up with the Indoor Air Quality “Food Pyramid” as a way of prioritizing the steps a homeowner can take to improve their health through improved indoor air quality. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit us in March 2020, no air scrubber manufacturer could claim that their product was effective in killing the virus.
They had to test their systems on the virus and it took time, but in the end, as we suspected, UV air scrubbers are just as effective at killing all the strains of the Covid virus as they are at killing all other airborne pathogens.
Compass Heating and Air Conditioning has been offering Indoor Air Quality solutions to Elgin, IL homeowners for more than ten years. We have installed thousands of ERVs, air scrubbers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers in homes all over the Fox River Valley.
If you would like me to come to your home to assess your situation, please give us a call at the number at the top of this page, or fill out the short form at the top of the page and select “air quality”. One of our folks will be in touch to set up your no-obligation consultation.