Indoor Air Quality Improvement Tips for Pet Parents
The EPA warns that poor indoor air quality is among the leading health risks for Americans. For many of us, being a pet parent is a rewarding experience, but it also comes with some downsides, such as pet dander. Animal dander directly contributes to reduced indoor air quality. It can trigger respiratory responses in otherwise healthy people, and it can intensify symptoms among people with allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. Pets can also introduce odors and bacteria, and there are several strategies that pet parents can employ to mitigate those effects.
Managing Dust and Dander in the Home
The accumulation of dust and pet dander in a home are intertwined. The general recommendation to control dust in a home is to perform a deep dusting at least once a week. Depending on the number of pets you have and their breeds, you may have to do it more often. The best way to dust a home is to use a microfiber duster. Begin with the ceiling and crown molding and work your way down to the ground. Pay particular attention to furniture and anywhere with a lot of surface area for dust to collect, such as a shelf of knickknacks. Once done, vacuum all flooring using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which helps to ensure that the dander is collected and not just moved around.
Regular Grooming Practices and Grooming Outdoors
Controlling the source will go a long way to limiting how often you need to dust. Consider that most professional pet groomers use masks and have advanced ventilation and filtration systems installed. If you opt to groom your pets yourself, perform all bathing, brushing, and deodorizing outdoors. The grooming process results in substantial dander, so this will make a big difference. It is also necessary to groom your pets as often as needed, which does vary depending on breed. Depending on your pet’s coat, it may also need de-shedding, which is different than brushing and requires different tools.
Choose a Pet Bed With a Removable and Washable Cover
No matter how often you groom your pet, your pet’s bedding will collect pet dander. Even if the pet dander remains contained to the bed, you still have the fundamental problem with dust in that it essentially acts as a sponge for indoor air pollutants and continues to re-emit them over time. Therefore, we recommend that you purchase a pet bed with a cover that is removable and washable. Wash the cover at least once a week, and do it in hot water to kill any microorganisms living on it.
Replace or Clean Your HVAC Air Filter as Needed
HVAC air filters keep your HVAC equipment and ductwork clean. Their effect on improving indoor air quality is minimal. But dirty filters can play a role in diminishing indoor air quality if dirt is getting into the system and ducts. Worse yet, dirty air filters increase static pressure within an HVAC system, which increases operating costs, reduces airflow, increases wear and tear, and shortens the life of the equipment. The general recommendation is that you swap HVAC filters out every three months. Households with pets will often have to change them out more often. Until you know your optimal schedule, check them every two weeks and change them whenever you can see the dirt accumulation. If you find that you are changing the filters often, such as once a month or more frequently, then it is worthwhile to invest in reusable HVAC filters. Washable HVAC filters are significantly more expensive, but they can last five to 10 years and are more cost-effective in the end.
Install a Whole-Home Air Purification System
A whole-home air purification or filtration system will not eliminate pet dander entirely and will certainly not eliminate the need to dust. But it will significantly reduce the levels of dust and dander in the home and how often you need to dust. Coupled with regular dusting, an air cleaner will all but eliminate traces of pet dander from the home. That results in easier breathing for all but is particularly beneficial for people with allergies, asthma, and so forth.
There are many different types of air purifiers on the market. What you want for the purposes of trapping pet dander is a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particular air. When choosing an air purifier, ensure that it uses a True HEPA filter, which is a medical-grade air filter that can eliminate 99.97% of all particulate matter down to 0.1 microns in size.
Further Improve IAQ With an Air Purifier
Many air purifiers on the market have multiple subsystems. A HEPA filter is the only one you technically need to control pet dander. However, there are other subsystems that can be useful when you are a pet parent. An activated carbon filter will help to eliminate odors in the home. Ultraviolet lights will destroy bacteria that your pets may introduce. And a whole-house dehumidifier will not only make your home more comfortable but will produce a much less suitable environment for dust mites, viruses, mold spores, and so forth.
Schedule a Ductwork Inspection and Cleaning on a Regular Basis
Even with regular HVAC replacement and seasonal maintenance of your heating and cooling systems, dust and dander will accumulate in your ductwork. To avoid that accumulation undermining your indoor air quality, we recommend that you have your ducts inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. As a pet parent, we recommend duct cleaning be performed every two years. Then, you can adjust cleaning the ducts as needed based on the report provided to you by your HVAC technician.
Install a Mechanical Ventilation System
Modern homes are built with a tight seal because it improves energy efficiency and allows for greater control over indoor air quality. However, this approach has the potential downside of high concentration levels if pollution is present. Therefore, you should invest in a mechanical ventilation system to ensure a consistent intake of fresh air comes into the home.
Establish Fur-Free Zones
If you have household members that suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory conditions, establish safe spaces where pets are not allowed. This can include bedrooms but also other living spaces. In those spaces, you may also want to use a portable air filter. Invest in an indoor air quality monitor that can alert you to pollutants and contaminants. A monitor can also provide you with more precise information about your air quality overall.
Your Local IAQ Experts in Greater Metro Detroit
C & C Heating & Air Conditioning is proud to serve Detroit and all of Southeastern Michigan for more than 70 years, and we look forward to many more years to come. Our company offers a wide range of indoor air quality services, including duct cleaning and installation, maintenance and repair of whole-house air purifiers and filters, germicidal lights, whole-house dehumidifiers and humidifiers, and ventilators. Our team in Roseville also installs, services, and repairs heating equipment, air conditioners, and water heaters. Call us today or contact us online to learn more about these services or to schedule an appointment.