Do you have poor indoor air quality in your home? How do you even know? If you’re like many in the Maryland and Washington, DC area, you probably do – the EPA estimates that even the cleanest homes can have air quality that is two to five times worse than outdoor air quality!
I keep my house clean – can I still have poor indoor air quality?
Unfortunately, you can. There are many factors that can contribute to poor indoor air quality:
- Combustion furnaces, such as oil, gas or wood
- Building materials and furniture such as worn out insulation, wet or damp carpets and cabinetry or other furniture made out of certain pressed or treated woods
- Household cleaning products, personal care products or materials for hobbies (modeling glue, etc)
- Central heating and cooling systems or humidification systems
- Outdoor pollutants (like pollen) that get indoors
All of these factors and more can contribute to poor indoor air quality in your home, although the level of pollutants each releases can vary. Certain sources, such as treated furniture, release pollutants pretty much constantly. Others, such as furnaces, only release pollutants when they are active.
How can I improve my indoor air quality?
One easy way to improve your indoor air quality is by making sure your home is properly ventilated. This may require the installation of a mechanical ventilation device – most new homes built these days are designed to be airtight so as to not allow any drafts or air conditioner leaks. Unfortunately, this has the added effect of preventing indoor pollutants from getting out of your home! There’s a great option out there – you can install an indoor air cleaner in MD or DC.
Types of indoor air cleaners
HEPA air cleaners – highly effective against dust particles
“High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor,” or HEPA, air filters are some of the most popular types of air cleaners on the market. Many HEPA air cleaners have efficiency ratings of 99.97% and are able to trap particles as small as .3 microns! For reference, the period at the end of this sentence is about 397 microns across. This means that HEPA air cleaners can trap anything from dust to dust mites, from smoke to pollen, from pet dander to airborne viruses – it removes virtually everything. Many HEPA air cleaners can also be fitted with a UV system that traps and kills microbes, viruses, bacteria and fungi that invade your home.
One thing you should consider before you install a HEPA filter in your home is the amount of space you’re going to need an air cleaner to purify. Portable HEPA air filters are highly effective at pulling pollutants out of the room they are in – unfortunately, they are ONLY effective in the room they are in. Most people who install portable HEPA air cleaners in their home have one in the family room and one in all the bedrooms. But it’s way more effective to just install one on your central HVAC system. One air cleaner handles your entire home.
To get the most out of your HEPA air cleaner, make sure you install one with a relatively high number of air exchanged per hour – basically, eight or more. The term “air exchange” refers to the amount of time it takes for all of the air to go through the filter and come out clean – obviously, the more times this happens, the better your indoor air quality will be.
Ozone-ionizer air cleaners – highly effective against odors
Ozone-ionizer air cleaners are basically the opposite of HEPA air cleaners – they don’t even use filters to operate! Instead, these air cleaners create ozone around themselves which penetrates the cell structure of the viruses, bacteria or odor particles in your home, destroying them. After this process, referred to as ozonation, has occurred, the ozone-ionizer air cleaner begins the process of ionization. There are two types of ionization:
- Needlepoint ionizers negatively charge the air in front of themselves. When the negatively charged air molecules attach themselves to pollutants in the air, they cause them to drop down to the ground, effectively removing them from the air. Needlepoint ionizers usually have an effective radius of five to seven feet on all sides of the air cleaner.
- Radio ionizers use radio waves (don’t worry, they’re safe) to clean the air in much the same way as the needlepoint ionizer, but within a 50 ft radius! Many times, homes only need one radio ionizing air cleaner.
Other factors to consider when installing an indoor air cleaner
- Before installing an indoor air cleaner in your home, there are a few other factors you should consider –
- Make sure you install your indoor air cleaner where it will have easy access for inspection
- Make sure you factor in purchase, maintenance and operational costs
- Understand that ionizing air cleaners do not remove charged particles from the air, meaning they may wind up on walls or other surfaces in the room
Don’t let indoor air quality become a problem in your home! If you need to assess your indoor air quality in Maryland or Washington, DC, or if you want to install an indoor air cleaner, call Michael Bonsby Heating & Air Conditioning today!