When we think of getting fresh air, we head outdoors, away from our homes. We seek forests, parks, and mountains and breathe deeply.
In Upper Arlington, Ohio, you can venture outside and enjoy one of the city’s 23 parks, with 86 acres of playgrounds, sports fields, shelters, picnic areas, walking paths, fitness trails, and wooded areas.
There’s a very good reason for this. According to the EPA, “a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.”
As I write this, we are in the era of COVID, when businesses have begun to loosen their workplace rules. More than ever, people are working from home. More time at home means more time in an environment that may not be the best for your and your family’s health.
Keeping the indoor air perfect is impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t improve it so that it’s not exacerbating breathing conditions.
You can take steps toward making the interior of your home a healthy place. As an added benefit, you’ll be helping your HVAC system stay clean, which means that it will run more efficiently. It might even extend its lifespan.
We’ve been in thousands of homes in the Central Ohio area, and have seen firsthand how indoor air pollution can have detrimental effects. In this article, we’ll go over ways to reduce airborne debris, as well as talk about how humidity can affect your home.
What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?
There are several sources of indoor air pollution. These include:
- Natural gas
- Tobacco products
- Building materials and furnishings such as asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution
How does it get in your house? Easy. Any open windows or doors are entranceways. No matter how airtight your home may be, there are cracks where microscopic particles can slip in. It can stick to the bottom of your shoes and then get transferred to your floors. And that household dust? It comes from:
- Skin cells
- Clothing fibers
- Dust mites
- Bits of dead bugs
- Soil particles
- Pollen and other allergens
- Microscopic specks of plastic
How to Cut Down on Dust with Furnace Air Filters
Your furnace’s air filter is the first thing to check. It’s easy to ignore, but a filter that’s clogged won’t stop any dust. Debris will bypass the filter and wind up in your furnace, where it will be sent back out through the ductwork.
How Filters’ Effectiveness Is Measured
There are two standard ratings to measure a filter’s effectiveness.
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It measures a filter’s ability to capture particles sized between 0.3 microns and 10 microns (one micron is 1/1000 mm, or 1/25,000 of an inch.) That’s the size interval that includes air pollutants such as smoke, dust, cooking oil smell, mold spores, and bacteria. The higher the MERV, the more effective it is.
(A single hair from your head averages about 70 microns in diameter.)
Air Filters and Indoor Air Pollutants in Upper Arlington
Knowing the types of air filters available is the first step in knowing why a particular one might be worth investing in. We run through various types below.
A one-inch filter can be found at any hardware store for less than $50. It’s usually made from fiberglass. The downside is that it needs to be replaced every 30-90 days depending on the brand and model. It is the cheapest option.
A basic filter with a MERV value of 1-7 is adequate for a home with no pets, smoke, or allergies. If you have pets or someone in your home has significant allergy problems, you may want to consider a higher MERV value.
A step up would be a four-inch filter that is pleated. (These are sometimes referred to as media filters.) These can have MERV ratings up to about 18. Here at Fire & Ice, we often install Aprilaire four-inch filters, because they offer a nice mix of affordability and effectiveness.
High-end filters can have MERV ratings of up to 20. Some are washable, meaning you don’t have to replace them.
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance) filters are ideal for particulate matter, such as pollen, mold, and dust. HEPA filters are used in some hospitals, vacuum cleaners, and airliners. Standards require that to certify as a HEPA air filter, it must remove 99.97% of particles whose diameter is 0.3 microns.
Read more: Furnace Filter Facts: All Your Questions Answered
Some filters have carbon inserts, which is a good way to eliminate odors caused by smoke, cooking, or pets. The downside of this is that the filter can restrict airflow to the point that it can cause excessive static pressure, which is hard on HVAC equipment. It’s difficult to move the air through a lot of carbon.
The Trane CleanEffects is a hybrid filter, which means it utilizes one or more filtration technologies. The collection cells can filter particles as small as 0.1 microns. Trane’s literature says that it can “remove up to 99.98% of airborne particles.” The biggest downside is the cost, which is over $1000. Its high filtration efficiency also means you’ll need to clean it regularly.
The best method for making sure a clean filter is in place is to check on it monthly and replace it (or wash it) when it’s clogged.
Duct Cleaning Near Me: How Cleaning Services Control Dust and Allergens
Air Duct cleaning can remove dust, mold, mildew, and other particles that are hiding in your ducts.
A thorough cleaning includes cleaning numerous parts of your HVAC system, including supply vents from your air handler, return air vents, vents, and grills, and can include cleaning some interior parts of your furnace.
Some companies even clean dryer vents, and some use industry-standard cleaning agents after the ducts have been cleaned in order to hinder future mold and mildew growth.
What Does Air Purification Do?
Air filtration and air purification do the same thing but in different ways. The most common form of air purification is UV lamps. Ultraviolet light is deadly to living organisms, so it’s a great way to destroy mold spores, bacteria, and even some viruses.
UV lamps are usually installed inside an HVAC system, most commonly near the evaporator coil, which is a hotbed for such bacteria due to the moisture it collects.
At Fire & Ice, the air purification product we recommend is the Reme Halo.
It releases charged particles into your home that bond with particulates in your air, neutralizing them. It bonds with particles that cause odors, and then those particles are more easily caught in your system’s filter.
It has been proven to neutralize many viruses, including MRSA, Strep, Listeria, Norwalk, bird flu, and Tuberculosis. It also kills coronavirus!
Take Control of Your Home’s Humidity
By controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the growth of some sources of mold, mildew, and bacteria can be minimized. Relative humidity of 30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes and is the most comfortable.
in the heart of winter, on cold, dry days, the indoor humidity can dip to 25% or lower. (Desert humidity is about 21%.)
Low humidity causes static electricity, dry skin and hair, increased susceptibility to colds and respiratory illness, and can allow viruses and germs to thrive. Wood floors, furniture, and wooden musical instruments can crack, the paint can chip, and electronics can be damaged. You’ll also notice more dust on floors and furniture.
The solution is a whole-home humidifier. It can be installed in the ducts, or it can function as a stand-alone unit.
You get the opposite effect in the summer, as humid air can make it feel that much hotter. Standing water, water-damaged materials, or wet surfaces also serve as breeding grounds for molds, mildew, bacteria, and insects. House dust mites flourish in damp, warm environments. Asthma sufferers will feel it acutely.
A whole-home dehumidifier can reduce the humidity to a more comfortable level to create a healthy home. It can be installed as part of the ductwork, and it can work fine as a stand-alone appliance. It should be placed in the basement or on the ground floor. If the basement is kept dry, the whole house will feel the effect.
Improving Your Air Quality in Upper Arlington, Ohio
If you’re ready to discuss options to improve indoor air quality in your home, we’d love to sit down with you.
At Fire & Ice, we hope to provide the information you need to make an informed decision. We have the team to help you determine the right product for you, your home, and your budget.
If you live in Upper Arlington or elsewhere in Central Ohio, click the button below to schedule your free in-home estimate today.
Schedule an Estimate Schedule Service
Inspect your air ducts for harmful contaminants. Open your vents or a window when cooking. Regularly clean your carpets and rugs. Use a humidifier to reduce moisture in the air.How can I improve my indoor air quality at home? ›
- Take all your medicines as prescribed.
- Keep rooms well-aired.
- Use allergy friendly or chemical-free products.
- Prevent condensation.
- Keep your home warm.
- Keep your home smoke-free.
- Use electric or gas heating.
- Vacuum regularly.
- Source Control.
- Improved Ventilation.
- Air cleaners.
- Change your air filter often. ...
- Regularly vacuum carpet and rugs — especially if you have pets. ...
- Use vents to remove cooking fumes. ...
- Get a handle on humidity. ...
- Incorporate air-purifying plants into your living space.
Occupants of homes with poor indoor air quality may complain of symptoms such as headache, eye irritation, fatigue, dry throat, sinus congestion, dizziness, and nausea. Because many illnesses can cause these symptoms, diagnosing sick building syndrome is difficult.Do air purifiers improve air quality? ›
Portable air cleaners and HVAC filters can reduce indoor air pollution; however, they cannot remove all pollutants from the air. The following publications provide information on portable air cleaners and on HVAC and furnace filters commonly used in homes.How do you purify indoor air naturally? ›
- Essential Oil Diffusers. Essential oil diffusers don't just ooze out a sweet aroma, they're also great air purifiers! ...
- Indoor Plants. ...
- Beeswax Candles. ...
- Open a Window. ...
- Turn up the Air-Conditioning. ...
- Air Purifier. ...
- Salt Lamps. ...
- Activated Charcoal.
Indoor air pollutants are particles that are found in the air inside of buildings. In healthcare settings, the four major indoor air pollutants are asbestos, biological pollutants, carbon monoxide, and emissions from cookstoves and heaters. Each of these pollutants can have serious health effects.How can I purify my house without an air purifier? ›
The good news is that we can improve our indoor air quality. Simple things you can do to improve your indoor air quality include: Reduce dust by vacuuming regularly and using a microfiber or damp cloth for dusting. Reduce humidity to avoid mold and mildew buildup and change appliance filters regularly.How do I reset the air quality in my house? ›
- Develop a regular cleaning schedule. ...
- Keep up with battery changes. ...
- Schedule routine maintenance. ...
- Subscribe and save. ...
- Download the Filtrete™ Smart App. ...
- Think long-term for remodeling projects. ...
- Add some greenery. ...
Vinegar, and more specifically white vinegar, is a great tool to use when you want to purify air in the home. There are several ways that you can use vinegar to help naturally clean the air in your home.How do you refresh the air in a room? ›
- Open a window—but not for too long. If you're struggling with stale air, you can always open a few windows. ...
- Turn on the fan. Another option is to put a new air filter into your HVAC unit and turn on your ceiling fan. ...
- Change your air filter. ...
- Invest in a new filtration system or dehumidifier.
- Peace Lily. The popular peace lily is one of the best plants for purifying air—it removes formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, ammonia and more. ...
- English Ivy. ...
- Snake Plant. ...
- Chrysanthemum. ...
- Devil's Ivy. ...
- Dracaena. ...
- Bamboo Palm. ...
- Gerbera Daisy.
Signs of Poor Ventilation
Windows and glass that appear frosted due to condensation. The discoloration of floor, wall tiles, and grout. Early signs of rust stains on plumbing. Mold growth on structural surfaces like walls and wood.
- Purchase an indoor air quality monitor.
- Evaluate health symptoms.
- Monitor carbon monoxide and radon levels.
- Get an air purifier.
- Call an air quality professional.
Bad air can trigger coughing, chest tightness, sore throat, watery or itchy eyes, shortness of breath, and even a full-blown asthma attack. “If you live in a home with chronically poor air quality, you can experience frequent headaches, long lasting colds, and bronchitis as well as chronic asthma,” says E.How do you tell if the air in your house is clean? ›
Indoor Air and Dust Buildup
Another way to tell whether you have poor indoor air quality is if you see dust buildup around your home and collect around air vents. You may not spot buildup around areas you regularly clean, but keep a lookout for excess dust around your home. Also, check your air vents for dust buildup.
What are the downsides of air purifiers? There aren't a lot of downsides to having an air purifier in your home aside from the financial investment. Many ionizers, especially older models, can generate ozone when they are operating, which is known to exacerbate asthma.Where should you place air purifier? ›
The best place to put an air purifier is somewhere in your breathing zone. The closer the unit is to your head, the shorter distance clean air has to travel before it reaches you. In the bedroom, this usually translates to putting the air purifier on a nightstand or small table close to the bed.Is it good to use air purifier everyday? ›
Yes, it's safe to leave your air purifier on all day. But, you need to make sure that you clean the filters about once a month. The filters trap heavy amounts of dust and allergens which can be harmful to sensitive groups if they're not cleaned consistently.
Air purifiers with a HEPA filter tend to be the best for filtering dust from your space. According to the EPA, HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of dust particles that measure 3 microns in diameter.Which is better air humidifier or purifier? ›
While a humidifier can add moisture to the air, it is not designed to remove pollutants or allergens. If you want to improve the air quality in your home or office, an air purifier is a better choice.What is the number 1 indoor air pollutant? ›
The Environmental Protection Agency has noted that excess moisture, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and radon are four major indoor air pollutants. They result in damp and stuffy houses.What are the worst indoor air pollutants? ›
- Biological Pollutants.
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products.
- Lead (Pb)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Tobacco smoke. Household products and pesticides. Gases such as radon and carbon monoxide. Materials used in the building such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead.Can one air purifier clean an entire house? ›
If you reside alone or with just one other person in a large home, only one air purifier might work for you. If your kitchen is separate, you'll need a second one. On the other hand, if your home is full of people, purchase an air purifier for each room.What can I boil to clean the air? ›
Liven up stale and stuffy air by simmering whole spices and citrus peels. To a large pot of water, add 1/4 cup whole cloves, 4 whole nutmegs, 6 cinnamon sticks, and the peel of 2 lemons or one orange.How do you detox from bad air quality? ›
- Exercise regularly. ...
- Avoid catching infections. ...
- Keep indoors clean. ...
- Try steaming. ...
- Improve your diet. ...
- Quit smoking today.
If the air quality is especially poor, it may take a few days for your body to recover. And if you're regularly exposed to high levels of unhealthy air, the health consequences can linger for months or even years.What causes poor air quality? ›
Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution. Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.
Here is a natural, not to mention inexpensive alternative: Simmer a half dozen lemon slices and a handful of cloves in a pan of water. This eliminates odors in your home, leaving the air lemony fresh!How do you deodorize a room quickly? ›
- White vinegar. Removes odors naturally, both on surfaces around the home and in the air.
- Baking soda. Absorbs odors. ...
- Boiling spices. Like cinnamon in a little bit of water releases their fragrance into the air in a non-harmful, chemical-free way.
- Burn soy or beeswax candles.
That's right, this kitchen staple – whether on its own or combined with other ingredients – can neutralize unpleasant odors and make the air inside your home a pleasure to inhale. In a thoroughly cleaned glass jar, mix one cup baking soda with about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.How do you circulate clean air in a room? ›
- leave interior doors open.
- use bathroom and kitchen fans.
- keep baseboards or heating vents clear of furniture.
- open windows and doors when outside conditions permit. ...
- keep beds, bedding and furniture away from outside walls to allow enough air and heat flow around furnishings.
- Vacuum Away Air Pollution. Invest in a good vacuum and use it regularly. ...
- Brush Fido. ...
- Use Natural Air Fresheners. ...
- Beeswax Candles. ...
- Check the HVAC System. ...
- Avoid Mold and Mycotoxins. ...
- Choose Low VOC Furnishings. ...
- Cut Down on Cooking Pollution.
English Ivy: A Christmastime favorite that's a year-round keeper because it filters 78 percent of airborne mold in 12 hours.Which indoor plant purifies the air the most? ›
Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Florist's chrysanthemums or “mums” are ranked the highest for air purification. They're shown to eliminate common toxins as well as ammonia. Treat yourself to a fresh pot, as this flower only blooms for about six weeks.
Houseplants may or may not really help reduce indoor air pollution — the jury is still out. But even at their best, they won't substitute for keeping pollution out of the air in the first place. Cleaning up pollution once it is in the air is extremely difficult.What is the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes? ›
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the area.Can air conditioning improve indoor air quality? ›
A well-functioning air conditioner not only provides comfort in the warm weather but also contributes to better indoor air quality (IAQ). According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Poor IAQ can have serious repercussions on an individual's health.