Indoor Air Can Be Worse For You to Breathe Than Outdoor Air

Hot summer air can feel awful to breathe. Between the humidity, car fumes, and truck fumes, breathing outside feels insufferable. Have you ever considered that it may actually be worse to breathe indoor air than outdoor air? This may be a change in mentality for many people, but there could potentially be more harmful air contaminants in your home or at your office than outside. How can this be? What kinds of harmful contaminants could you be breathing right now?

Air Contaminants

There may be various contaminants in our homes and offices keeping us from breathing clean air. Molds and allergens are the most common. When moisture builds up from leaks or condensation, mold has just the right conditions for growth. Dehumidifying the air can help prevent a mold problem. While mold will not affect everyone the same way, it will cause serious problems for people who already have respiratory diseases like asthma. Most people have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes because of how dangerous it is. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. What does this mean? When your HVAC system or space heater isn’t functioning properly, it can release harmful carbon monoxide particles into the air, particles that can prevent you from getting the oxygen you need to survive.

Radon exposure can cause serious diseases, such as lung cancer. Building materials can be a source for radon, so if you work in construction or are involved in a project, consider having tests done to check on the amount of radon in the air. What can you do to protect yourself and your family from these types of air toxins? Change the air conditioning filters.

Air Conditioning Filters

Filters in the air conditioning system capture dirt, dust, mold, pollen, and pet dander from the air in your home. When these filters fill with materials, they aren’t able to continue to effectively filter the air any longer. The last thing you want is that type of bacteria building up in your home, so changing your air filters on a regular basis is important. It may also help to upgrade your air filters to a more expensive brand. They may be able to clean the air in your home more effectively than the cheaper brands. Filters that cost around $5 each look like a pleated cloth. These filers can even keep smoke from settling in your home. The pleated pattern catches the harmful materials yet still allows the air to flow through the HVAC system to keep it functioning correctly.

How often should you change your filters? Once a month is best. Even if the instructions on the package say 90 days, the amount of dirt in your home may be more than what the filter accounts for, especially if you have kids or pets. If you are serious about improving the air quality in your home, when an HVAC technician comes to perform maintenance on your unit, ask about high-efficiency filters. These filters are more expensive, but are well worth the cost because of their performance quality. They only need to be changed once a year and can substantially improve the air in your home. They are designed for specific systems, so make sure you let your HVAC technician choose the right one for your home and install it for you.

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Electronic Air Cleaners

You can purchase an additional air purifier for your home if you want. These are probably not necessary for most homes, but if you are someone or live with someone who has a respiratory condition, an air cleaner may help. You can get one that attaches to your HVAC unit or you can get one that sits in a particular room. Not all of these models work the same way, so make sure you are purchasing for quality over price. These systems can make sure that there are absolutely no contaminants in the air in addition to your air conditioning filters, almost like a back up system.

Green Technology

If you want to go a step beyond the type of air conditioning filters and really try to help the environment, consider an HVAC system designed to be green. You can choose a unit that conserves energy as it runs. Some systems are designed to function only when they detect harmful gases in the air. Rather than running all day when there are no contaminants in the air, a sensor can detect the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and remove it before it becomes harmful to you. This way, you are keeping your home safe while simultaneously protecting the environment.

What is the simplest way to make sure the air is clean? Open the windows every once and a while and get some fresh air inside. Even if you work in a city with a lot of outdoor pollution, outdoor air can still be better for you to breathe than indoor air.

The Refrigeration School, Inc teaches students the dangers of indoor air and the precautions for keeping it clean. Students learn the latest green designs used in heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technologies. Future HVAC technicians choose RSI for training because they like to learn by using their hands rather simply reading a book. Students don’t have to become just an HVAC technician, but RSI prepares them for any of the HVAC related careers they want to have.

Author: Kristin Kronstain
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