Most Atlanta, GA, area homeowners are genuinely shocked to learn that the air in their homes is two to five times more polluted than the outdoor air. When you think of air quality, you probably think of outdoor problems, such as auto exhaust and smog. However, indoor air pollution in your home can have serious effects on your health, comfort and well-being. Some common indoor air pollutants include aerosols from cooking, vapors from cooking and cleaning, carbon monoxide from fuel-burning appliances and volatile organic compounds from consumer goods and building materials. Be aware of these 10 signs that your home has poor indoor air quality.
1. Visible Dust Buildup on Surfaces
If you see strings of dust in the ceilings, on the walls or in the corners of your home, this suggests an indoor air quality problem. Dust buildup on surfaces, including shelving, tables, the tops of appliances and in the carpeting is also an issue. Dust can also accumulate on vent covers and within your home’s ducts. If you can see the dust, there’s an air quality problem. Each time you move, those dust particles get stirred into the air. When you breathe them into your lungs, they can cause irritation and trigger allergy or asthma symptoms.
2. Inconsistent Air Distribution
Dust or particle buildup in your home’s ducts and vents leads to an inconsistent distribution of heated and cooled air. You may notice that one area of your home is too cold in the wintertime and too hot in the summertime. This airflow problem could be the cause. Your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system may need a tune-up and deep cleaning in order to get rid of the buildup, biological growth and contaminants so that it can more efficiently heat, ventilate and cool your home.
3. Air Is Too Dry or Too Moist
Indoor humidity problems are also a part of poor indoor air quality. If the humidity in your home drops below 30%, which is common during the winter months of the year when running your heating system, your skin could get dry, flaky and itchy. Mucous membranes also dry out, which can lead to painful cracks, irritation, swelling and an increased risk of infection. Low indoor humidity could also cause the wood furniture, boards or trim to split. On the other hand, excessive humidity is a problem, too. If the indoor humidity increases beyond 50%, your home could end up with a mold problem. Dust mites and other pests also thrive in humid environments. In the wintertime, you might benefit from a humidifier to maintain the right indoor humidity level. During the summer months of the year, you may need to run a whole-house dehumidifier in addition to your central air conditioning system.
4. Biological Growth
If you see mold or mildew growing on paper, cardboard, walls, cabinets or other surfaces, your home certainly has an indoor air quality problem. When mold grows, it releases spores. These spores float through the air until they land on an ideal surface to start a new mold colony. If you breathe the spores, they can trigger respiratory irritation and worsen allergies or asthma. Some forms of mold are toxic, even if you don’t have allergies or asthma. Mold growth is a sign that your home has both excessive humidity and poor air circulation. A dehumidifier and a whole-home fan are good solutions for these issues.
5. Bad Odors
High indoor humidity and poor air circulation may cause bad odors to persist in your home. If you notice a musty or mildew type of smell, it’s from the biological materials growing on surfaces. Odors from cooking or cleaning may linger if you have poor air circulation. Breathing the aerosols and vapors from cooking and cleaning may cause you to have physical ailments, such as fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath or a headache. Using exhaust fans helps ventilate those odors and vapors out of your home. Air purification systems can also get rid of these indoor air pollutants.
6. High Utility Bills
A buildup of particles in your home overworks your heating and cooling system. When the system is coated in particles, it can’t efficiently transfer or produce heat. This will cause your heating and cooling bills to be higher than necessary. If you haven’t tinkered with the thermostat, and your utility company didn’t increase its rates, a dirty air filter or particle buildup in the heating and cooling system and ducts could be the cause of your high utility bills.
7. Cold and Sinus Symptoms
Even if you have no allergies, poor indoor air quality may cause you to experience cold-like symptoms. Headaches, a congested or runny nose and sinus pressure or pain are common effects of breathing polluted air. You may even wonder if you’ve developed a new allergy. These systems will persist beyond the usual time span of a typical cold. Be sure to check your heating and cooling system’s air filter once a month. If it’s dirty, replace it. Avoid waiting longer than three months between filter changes. A clean filter can trap more particles. Choose a filter with the highest minimum efficiency reported value (MERV) rating that’s compatible with your HVAC system.
8. Trouble Sleeping
Poor indoor air quality may impact your sleep. You may produce more mucus, which makes it difficult to get comfortable. A high concentration of pollutants in your home can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Changing the HVAC filter, increasing ventilation and maintaining optimal indoor humidity should help you get the sleep you need each night.
9. Unexplained Skin Problems
Poor indoor air quality can cause people to develop unexplained rashes. If you notice a new rash, it could be due to exposure to the dust, spores and other pollutants in your home’s air. If you’ve already ruled out a change in detergent, body soap or fiber allergy, the pollutants in your home’s air could be to blame. More frequent vacuuming with a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter may help. You may also need professional duct cleaning and an HVAC filter with a higher MERV rating to get rid of the particles irritating your skin.
10. Breathing Difficulty
If you’ve recently noticed difficulty with breathing, such as coughing when taking a deep breath, wheezing or shortness of breath, the first step is to rule out an illness. If you don’t have a respiratory infection, your breathing problems could be from indoor air pollution. The particles in the air can irritate and inflame healthy lungs. If you have asthma, your symptoms could get worse, even if they were previously well-controlled.
At Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, your comfort is our top priority, which is why we offer cost-effective indoor air quality solutions. Our duct cleaning services also keep your home healthier. With our insulation services, you can have a more comfortable and energy-efficient home. Atlanta-area homeowners also rely on us for dependable heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair and installation services. To learn more about the signs of poor indoor air quality in your home, get in touch with us at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today.