Air Quality in the Home

breathing clean airNashville, Murfreesboro, Knoxville and Chattanooga TN

For most people, home is a sacred space in which everything is under one’s own control: company, noise, temperature and surroundings can all be selected to produce the environment that is most peaceful, welcoming, relaxing, and safe. But another important element is ensuring the home’s air is clean. What are some signs that it might not be? What can be causing this, and what can be done?

Signs of poor air quality in the home

Other than the occasional cooking accident, anything that is polluting the air in the home will likely be invisible. Yet it may have a certain smell to it that can be indicative of something being off, especially a musty smell that may be caused by a damp basement or mold. This may only be noticed when coming back home from some time away, but if that occurs every time one returns, it might be a sign of poor air quality.

Sometimes, poor air quality has no detectable smell at all. However, it may be reflected in other unpleasant ways. Frequent short-term, cold-like symptoms, as well as dizziness, fatigue, and headaches, could be triggered by pollutants such as dust, mold, bacteria, or carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air. Family members who have asthma may find it becoming worse, and if ignored, poor air quality can eventually lead to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Of course, all these signs are not necessarily airtight (no pun intended). To determine if home air is polluted, the homeowner can have the air tested. Kits can be purchased, but a professional can provide a more comprehensive answer, along with suggestions for how to improve the air.

Causes of poor air quality

There are a broad range of reasons why a home’s air quality might be bad

  • Humidity

One reason for poor air quality is moisture and humidity. Basements are often the culprit for this, as are bathrooms, which can breed mold and mildew.

  • Carpets and rugs

While not necessarily troublesome by themselves, carpets and rugs can trap dust and other particulates that can be stirred with foot traffic.

  • Tobacco

Tobacco smoke can affect the quality of the air even if no one is actively smoking in the house. Smoke can linger for some time.

  • Kitchen

A kitchen stove can put out carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and kitchen cleaners can linger in the air.

  • Dirty filters

Since HVAC systems constantly require air intakes, filters go a long way to clean the air, especially of dust and particulates. However, filters eventually get dirty and will stop functioning well.

  • Dirty ductwork and vents

Over time, the air ducts in the home can begin to collect dirt, animal hair, and even mold. If this occurs, ducts and vents will worsen air quality.

  • Poor ventilation

All of these problems can be made much worse by poor ventilation in general. If not enough air is circulating, whatever pollutants are in the air will stay there and accumulate over time.

What can be done to improve air quality?

In many cases, air quality in the house can be improved by taking some simple steps. These include discontinuing tobacco use, changing the HVAC filter regularly, deep cleaning the carpets and rugs, and opening the windows from time to time. Furthermore, a few dehumidifiers can be very helpful, especially in bathrooms and/or basements.

Other improvements may be a bit more involved. If the basement has gotten wet, then waterproofing will be a major help in cleaning the air. Installing fans in bathrooms that do not have them will likely require the services of a professional, but it will also be very helpful, particularly in lowering humidity. Furthermore, having a qualified professional clean the ducts can do wonders (and while they are at it, they can check to make sure there are no leaks or misalignments). Finally, ventilation systems can be installed to enhance airflow.

Ameri Care Services, which meets the moisture management and pest control needs of Middle Tennessee, can offer a variety of services to improve air in the home, including basement waterproofing and ventilation system installation. Ameri Care has been serving Middle Tennessee for twenty-five years and has recently expanded into parts of East Tennessee, southwest Kentucky, and northern Alabama. To schedule a consultation, fill out the form on the website.