5 Steps to Better Indoor Air Quality

When you think of pollution, you may think of a cloud of smog hanging over a city. However, indoor pollution is usually invisible to the human eye and 2-5 times more concentrated than outdoor levels. Occasionally, indoor levels of pollution may reach 100 times the intensity of outdoor levels, and since many people spend a majority of their time inside, it is important that you understand indoor air pollution. 

One of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality is to increase the mechanical air ventilation in your home. This moves polluted air outside of your home and draws fresh air into your home. Before turn to your local HVAC specialist to help you decide on the best ventilation system for your home, here is an overview of the process of improving your ventilation system. 

Get a Professional Assessment 

Most HVAC companies offer a free or low-cost assessment of your current HVAC system, including your ventilation system. When inspecting your ventilation, the contractor will take into consideration the size of your home and how well the house is sealed. Older homes tend to have more natural ventilation through cracks and gaps throughout the home. However, newer homes may be more tightly sealed against energy leakage and also have poor natural ventilation. The contractor will assess your home's natural ventilation by measuring the air pressure in various areas of your home. 

During the same assessment, the professional may take measurements of common pollutants, such as radon, and identify potential sources of pollutants, such as smoking indoors or various chemicals in your home. 

After the inspection, you will be given suggestions for your ventilation needs and your current ventilation capacity. 

Explore Various Types of Ventilation 

If you learn that your home needs better ventilation, there are several ways to achieve it. The three main types of ventilation are natural ventilation, spot ventilation, and whole-house ventilation systems. 

Natural ventilation involves air that flows into your home through cracks and open doors and windows. If your house is designed to make use of natural ventilation and you regularly open your windows to allow a breeze to go through your home, you may be able to use natural ventilation for the majority of your needs. However, natural ventilation rarely removes pollutants from every area of your home. 

Spot-ventilation is used in problem areas, usually bathrooms and kitchens, and involves a fan that moves air outside, and whole-house systems involve ducts that move air out of your entire home. 

Consider Behavioral Changes 

After you know what your options for ventilation are, consider whether you are willing to make any behavioral changes to reduce your need for mechanical ventilation. This can include things like stopping smoking or regularly opening your windows to increase air flow. While behavioral changes may decrease your need for mechanical ventilation, it probably will not eliminate it altogether. 

Consider Future Changes to Your Home 

Before you decide on a type of ventilation system to install, you should consider future upgrades you intend to make to your home. If you plan to add energy efficient windows and doors, you may need a more powerful ventilation system. It will likely be more cost effective to install a more powerful system now rather than make upgrades to your system when you install more energy efficient doors and windows. 

Create an Action Plan 

Once you have considered all of your options, talk to your HVAC contractor about installing your ventilation system of choice. After you have the system installed and running for awhile, you may want to ask for a second ventilation assessment of your home to make sure the unit is effectively reducing the pollutants and increasing the air quality throughout your home. For more information or assistance, contact companies like Shakley Mechanical Inc.