Four Steps to Cleaner Air Inside Your Home

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the air inside U.S. homes may be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and in some cases as much as 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Surprisingly new homes can actually test higher for poor indoor air due to a variety of factors like new carpets, paint, and other building materials that give off Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). The VOC fumes can be also be from furniture, animal dander, as well as indoor mold and mildew. Yuck.

Making this worse is the fact that more Americans than ever before suffer from severe allergies/asthma! The Asthma and Allergy Foundation puts the spending at millions of dollars a year on indoor filtering systems. These could be small units in each room to a whole home system. There is major debate on which ones work the best.  The HEPA filtrations units are the most popular.

Before you buy a filter for each room, take a look at these easy steps to get you breathing clean air again.

Step One: Keep your home as clean as possible. Those dust mites are not only gross but getting rid of dust promptly can also dramatically improve the air you breathe.  Dusting window treatments, around window and any door trim can help as well. Use a vacuum cleaner that utilizes a HEPA type filter (my favorite right now is made by Kenmore). Whatever the brand it is worth the investment in a solid vacuum that has the necessary filters. Some people suggest bag-less to avoid the dust when you change a bag but with the one I use it takes a long time to fill a bag and the carpet is much cleaner than with my previous bag-less versions.

Step Two: If you have a forced air cooling system have the air ducts cleaned and sealed internally. Using the Aeroseal process, which was designed at UC Berkeley, you can eliminate the air that leaks from your ductwork in places you can’t even see such as behind the drywall or in the attic. When completed your home will be more evenly tempered and your energy bills will be less.  It will dramatically improve your indoor air quality. By sealing the leaks, dirt, and dust won’t be sucked through the return line and get into your house.

Step Three: Change and improve your air filters. A basic dollar filter will protect the blower motor but it will not do much to improve your indoor air quality.  Upgrading to a pleated filter that captures smaller particles is the way to go. These can capture large and miniscule particles and keep your air clean. There are many brands available and the key is to remember to change them on a regular schedule.  Since these do a good job of filtering the air, when they become dirty the can restrict the air flow through your system.  Try to change the filters every month when the unit is working hard.

Step four:  Invest in indoor air purifiers.  Many different versions, performance levels, sizes and costs. HEPA filtration (High Efficiency Particulate Air) is one of the most common approaches to cleaning the air and a good way to go.  A quality HEPA filtering system can be up to 99.97% efficient at filtering particulates that are 0.3 microns from the air.  Just to give you some perspective, a single strand of human hair is 150 microns!  These filtering systems are great choices to increase indoor air quality, to clean the indoor air of dust, smokers, pollen, mold spores and pet dander.  You can use a portable unit and switch into various rooms as needed. The key is to make sure the unit you choose is sized correctly for the square footage of your room.  HEPA room purifiers can range in price from $30.00-$300.00. Again, changing the filters is needed, however they can usually last many months before needing to be replaced.

Finally there is a unit that allows a homeowner to filter the air in their entire home either through their existing forced air system or with new ductwork.  This version would have to be professionally installed. Allergy and asthma sufferers may find this whole house unit offers you a real solution in cleaning up your indoor air. Some may even qualify as a health machine for insurance purposes.