Did you know that a majority of Canadians spend almost 90% of their time indoors? And the air inside is often far more polluted than outside. In fact, indoor air pollutants are considered one of the top five environmental risks to our health, and are the leading cause of disease and premature deaths. Much of this is caused by the plethora of chemicals that we use and bring into our homes or businesses.
Whether it’s at home or at work, that’s a lot of indoor air pollution we’re breathing in, which is why having a well-maintained HVAC and ductwork system is so important. Beyond heating and cooling the interior, the HVAC system also plays an essential role in maintaining indoor air quality by filtering out contaminants. To learn more, let’s take a closer look at the relationship between your HVAC and air quality.
Why You Should Be Concerned About Indoor Air Quality
We expose ourselves to risks on a daily basis. Some we decide to steer clear of and avoid, others we simply can’t because they’re an unavoidable part of life. But being informed is essential when deciding whether a risk is really worth taking, or if we’d rather alter our actions and mitigate it. This is the case with indoor air quality. Most of us aren’t aware of just how toxic our homes and office spaces can be.
Many studies have shown that the air we breathe indoors is at least 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside, even in comparison to highly industrialized areas. Considering that people spend the majority of time inside nowadays, that means we’re all being exposed to pollutants almost constantly. This exposure contributes to a number of health conditions, including allergies, rashes, respiratory illnesses, eye problems, and even some cancers.
The Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants
There are numerous sources throughout your home that can contribute to polluted indoor air. Adhesives and protectants in furniture, carpeting and upholstery, electronic equipment and plastics, varnishes, freshly painted walls, secondhand smoke, broken CFLs, and the list goes on. But some of the worst culprits are combustion appliances. This can include fireplaces, furnaces, gas water heaters, and gas-fired stoves. Depending on the fuel source, certain appliances can emit toxins such as carbon dioxide which can be very dangerous.
Your HVAC System and Air Quality
Your HVAC system plays a major role in the quality of the air you breathe inside. As it works to heat and cool your home, it takes in air from outside, along with pollutants. As it brings in the outside air through the ducts, it then filters it before distributing it throughout the space. The ventilation of your HVAC system is vital for not only filtering out those contaminants but also for controlling odours and balancing gases.
How to Keep Air Quality Optimal and Healthy
Regular maintenance of your HVAC system is a crucial part of keeping your indoor air quality safe and healthy. Neglect can trap pollutants within the ductwork and other equipment, and if this combines with moisture over time, it can lead to mould and mildew growth. To keep it in optimal condition, have it cleaned, serviced and inspected at least once per year.
The ducts are ignored far too often, but these are just as important to have serviced and maintained. They can harbour lots of dust, pet dander, mould and allergens that can make the air unhealthy. Since they transport air in and around your home, it’s important to keep them clear and working properly. We recommend having your ducts professionally cleaned and inspected every 3 – 4 years.
Filters collect dust and other particles so they don’t enter the air inside. They also help to prevent the HVAC equipment from clogging up. But if they’re left too long without being changed, they can cause blockages which will let dust, dirt and other contaminants enter the air. HEPA filters are highly recommended to use, especially for those who suffer from allergies. The frequency for changing them will differ depending on indoor conditions, whether you have pets and the unit you have. But on average, the filter should be changed every 60 days for pet owners and 90 days for those who aren’t.
Use an Air Purifier
An additional step to help keep your air cleaner is to use an air purifier. These are designed to remove dust, bacteria, mould, and viruses from the circulated indoor air. There’s a variety of different purifiers available today, so talk to an expert to determine the right one for your needs.
If you want to learn more about how to improve air quality in your home or business, or if you need professional duct cleaning services in Ottawa, contact our team at Power Vac of Ottawa today!