12 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality This Summer

June 1, 2024
12 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality This Summer

Summer is a notable time of year when it comes to indoor air quality (IAQ), Here we’ll discuss 12 ways to improve indoor air quality this summer for homes in the Detroit, Michigan area.

Many people suffer from grass and weed allergies, and summer air pollution can make the symptoms even worse. Allergens and pollution exist indoors too where you may be prone to higher concentration levels. Learn more about a dozen ways you can ensure that your family breathes easier this summer.

1. Test Your IAQ

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing your IAQ every other year. One of the main reasons for this is radon, which is a leading cause of lung cancer. Radon is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that comes up from the ground and can appear suddenly. Summer can also elevate radon levels. IAQ testing can also reveal issues with:

  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Large and fine particulate matter (PM)

2. Monitor the AQI and Use Allergy Screens

Airing out your home when ambient temperatures drop to a comfortable level is a great idea, but you should be careful. Monitor the air quality index (AQI) for your area. Avoid opening windows when the AQI is above 99. If you’re sensitive to air pollution, avoid opening windows when the AQI is above 66. You should also invest in allergy screens for your windows and doors. These screens have a fine mesh that blocks pollen and most other allergens.

3. Dust Often

The EPA recommends deep dusting your home at least once a week. Use a microfiber duster to dust rooms from top to bottom. Pay particular attention to dust traps, such as knickknack shelves. Then, vacuum the flooring, carpeting, rugs and furniture. Ideally, use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. It will ensure that you trap the dust and don’t just recirculate it.

4. Avoid Overwatering Your Houseplants

Whether houseplants are good for IAQ is a matter of some debate. Certain species are more effective than others, and experts warn that you shouldn’t expect plants to help you overcome IAQ issues. There is also substantiated concern that houseplants can do more harm than good. Don’t purchase plants that come with pesticides in the soil. Also, avoid overwatering, as it can quickly lead to mold spores.

5. Upgrade Your HVAC Filter and Check It Regularly

All central HVAC systems have one or more supply vents that require an HVAC filter. It’s there to protect the equipment but can help with IAQ as well. HVAC filters have a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating. Find out the highest MERV rating your system supports, and upgrade if needed.

You should also check your filter regularly and change it if it has dust and debris accumulated on it. You may need to replace filters even more frequently if you have bad allergies. The MERV advice applies to mini-splits as well, but many mini-split systems employ reusable filters. In that case, wash the filters every two weeks, and replace them once a year.

6. Schedule a Spring HVAC Tune-Up

No matter how well you dust and how often you change your filters, dust will get in your HVAC system. It’s one of many reasons to schedule air conditioner or heat pump maintenance every spring. During that appointment, your technician will clean all of your HVAC equipment. This is particularly important for the evaporator coil, which is not only prone to grime buildup but biological growth.

7. Set Up a Duct Inspection and Clean as Needed

The EPA recommends having your ductwork professionally cleaned as needed. To determine when you need this service, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends an annual camera inspection. You can schedule that inspection alongside your spring tune-up. If your ducts need cleaning, your technician will use an industrial vacuum to extract all the dust from the duct network.

8. Ensure Optimal Ventilation

Many homes get inadequate ventilation in summer. This is a growing problem as modern homes have tight building envelopes for energy efficiency. The issue with insufficient ventilation is that pollutants and contaminants are more concentrated. A solution is a whole-house fan. It will deliver ample fresh air without introducing any allergens or pests. It can even lower your reliance on your AC.

9. Use Natural Cleaners and Avoid VOCs

Houseplants aren’t the only way you may inadvertently introduce contaminants and pollutants into your home. Household cleaning products are another. The EPA advises avoiding chemical deodorizers and cleaning products that contain toxic substances. If you need certain products that give off VOCs, for instance, you should store them outside the living area. In addition, you should avoid furnishings that give off VOCs.

10. Invest in Whole-House Air Purification

Even with diligent source control, there will be pollution in your home. Ambient pollution is unavoidable, but you can filter it out of your air. Portable air cleaners are an option, but whole-house air purifiers are superior. They provide clean air throughout the entire home and are actually cheaper in the long run.

There are a variety of different air purifiers on the market. An air scrubber is one of the most popular options. In a ducted system, it operates on the return side so as not to affect static air pressure. For ductless systems, you can opt for a centralized air scrubber with its own small duct.

These systems generally have four stages. There is a pre filter that traps very large particulates in order to extend the life of the other filter media. The activated carbon stage also traps large particles and absorbs odors, gases and chemicals. The HEPA stage traps particles down to 0.3 microns and a significant portion of fine PM as well. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation stage neutralizes bacteria and viruses. If you opt for an air purifier without UV and have a central HVAC system, you can add a UV lamp to your ducts.

11. Use a Dehumidifier

Relative humidity (RH) is an important aspect of IAQ. The EPA recommends maintaining an RH between 30% and 50%. That can be difficult to achieve through AC alone, and you may need a whole-house dehumidifier. It will remove moisture from the air to achieve your optimal RH. A whole-house dehumidifier has the added benefit of decreasing wear on an AC and making your cooling more comfortable.

12. Run Your Exhaust Fans

Run the exhaust fans in bathrooms during showers and baths and for as long as necessary to remove all moisture. In the kitchen, turn exhaust fans on before you start to cook. Leave them running until at least 10 minutes after you’ve finished.

Your IAQ Specialists in Roseville

If you’d like professional assistance improving your IAQ, C & C Heating & Air Conditioning is here for you. Our team inspects and cleans ductwork and installs and services air purifiers, UV lamps, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, whole-house fans and more. Our HVAC technicians also install, maintain and repair all types of ducted and ductless heating and cooling systems. We install and configure smart thermostats as well.

Call today or contact us online to learn more about these products and services or to schedule an appointment.

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