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Indoor air quality may not be the first thought that comes to mind when the subject of heating and air conditioning repair arises. Air quality is a serious issue in Plano, TX, and throughout the United States. The World Health Organization, or WHO, estimates that 4.3 million people die every year as a result of indoor air pollution. The number is higher than estimated deaths attributed to outdoor air pollution. This makes sense, considering that people in America spend 80 – 90% of their time indoors.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor air can be up to five times more heavily contaminated than outdoor air. The most common indoor air contaminants in the United States include combustion products, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, bacteria, viruses, excessive moisture, and radon. Heating and air conditioning repair specialists help homeowners reduce indoor pollution to make their homes safer.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, come from anything composed of hydrocarbons. VOCs can be emitted from synthetic furnishings, rugs, carpets, and construction materials. They are also found in many hairsprays, cosmetics, and styling products. Some byproducts interact with other substances.
Potentially harmful byproducts include formaldehyde and pesticides. Common cleaning products and other household chemicals release fumes that can build up to harmful levels without ventilation.
High concentrations of VOCs cause nausea, headaches, and damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, and liver. Particles that enter the bloodstream have been associated with stroke, depression, systemic inflammation, and weakened immune systems.
Certain types of new flooring are at risk of emitting VOCs. Sometimes volatile organic compounds are used for cleaning and polishing hardwood. Check cleaners for VOC content and try to find safer substitutes.
Laminate floors are made of photographic applique layer over melanin resin and fiber board. Adhesives and solvents used during laminate installation may give off VOCs, especially formaldehyde.
Dust, Gases, and Particle Contaminants
Air pollutants inside homes produce stale, damp air that can make breathing unpleasant. Dust is comprised of dead skin cells, dirt, and fibers from carpets, furnishings, and curtains. Dust builds up when HVAC filters become clogged. Excessive dust accumulation leaves people vulnerable to dust mites and allergies. Heating and air conditioning repair providers include filter replacement and maintenance as part of their services.
Carpets and rugs hold onto pet dander, dust, mold, and dirt. Vacuuming and scrubbing can reduce pollutants stuck in carpeting, but some pollutants will always be present. Improperly dried carpet after scrubbing can also contribute to humidity and mold.
Almost every home contains combustion products such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. These substances are produced by gas-powered appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces, and dryers. A heating and air conditioning repair technician can inspect these appliances and make sure they are properly ventilated.
The amount of gases produced as byproducts depend on the appliances age and level of maintenance. Install carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping areas to avoid potentially deadly accidents from carbon monoxide build up.
Excessive moisture in a home contributes to several problems. Mold and mildew thrive in moist environments. People with COPD and other respiratory illnesses frequently find breathing difficult in humid environments. Humid air from the outside, improperly ventilated bathrooms, and crawl spaces or basements encourage mold growth that could lead to spore formation.
Ventilation and Filters
The Center for Disease Control, CDC, recommends several steps to improve indoor air quality. Contact heating and air conditioning repair professionals to schedule regular HVAC maintenance. A common misconception is that HVAC system filters should be changed once a year. It is actually better to change filters every 30 days, especially in homes with pets that produce a lot of fur and dander. Changing filters more often improves HVAC efficiency and air
Regular maintenance from heating and air conditioning repair providers keeps ventilation in good working order and minimizes the concentration of VOCs and other contaminants in the air. Indoor air contamination causes a variety of symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, fatigue, dizziness, sore throat, and upper respiratory congestion. People with bronchitis, COPD, asthma, and allergies are more susceptible to harmful indoor air pollutants.
Heating and air conditioning repair service providers can inspect a home’s ventilation system to ensure it is correctly designed and install high-efficiency filters, such as HEPA, high efficiency particulate air, or Guardian Air REME filters. Use high quality pleated air filters with MERV, minimum efficiency reporting value, ratings of 8 – 12. Vacuum with HEPA filters as well to stop particles from leaving the floor and going right back into the air.
These filters capture contaminants and take them out of circulation. Make sure exhaust fans with proper outdoor ventilation are installed in high moisture areas, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Heating and air conditioning repair technicians fix leaky ducts and use duct sealing technology to correct unbalanced air pressure and keep automobile exhaust, appliance fumes, and radon gas out of air distribution systems.
Consult a heating and air conditioning repair specialist to ensure correct operation and proper ventilation of all furnaces, water heaters, stoves, and other appliances that produce carbon monoxide and dioxide. Try to avoid using tobacco products inside the house and do not leave vehicles idling in garages or other enclosed spaces near the home. HVAC professionals can also install radon detectors and prevention devices. These devices usually include a fan and PVC pipe that release radon near the roof so it does not enter the home through the foundation.
Limit use of paint, solvents, cleaning solutions, antifreeze, and gasoline to well ventilated areas and stores these substances outside of the home itself.
Products to make a home smell pleasant are frequently overlooked sources of indoor air pollution.
Candles, Air Fresheners, and Diffusers
Air fresheners, candles, tarts, essential oils, diffusers, and similar products can release toxins into the air. Be cautious when using such
products and investigate the ingredients thoroughly. Many air fresheners contain chemicals called phthalates that have been found to disrupt hormones in babies and children and aggravate respiratory issues such as asthma and COPD.
Air fresheners can also release chemical compounds known as terpenes that interact with other substances to form formaldehyde and acetone. Both of these compounds are known to cause respiratory sensitivity and limit airflow.
Many scented candles contain carcinogens, such as benzene and toulene.
Candles may also contain alkanes and alkenes, which are hydrocarbons produced in vehicle exhaust. Some candles are safe, but it is important to examine ingredients and even look for health and safety studies to make sure your favorite candles are not contributing to indoor air
Humidity Levels, Ductwork, and Air Exchange
Air filtration and anti-humidity devices can be installed in ductwork. Whole-house filtration products are available to catch airborne pollutants and kill mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. A combination of Bryant UV lamps and air filtration devices significantly reduce pollutants in indoor air. Whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers keep humidity levels between 30% to 50%.
Unfortunately, cold winter temperatures and constant indoor heating can lead to extremely dry air. Dry air does not necessarily contribute to indoor air pollutants, but it can cause problems as well. Many people experience sinus pain, headaches, dry coughs, and sore throats when the air is too dry. Heating and air conditioning repair service providers can also help with humidifiers. Technicians recommend the best type of humidifier for each home and offer advice for proper use to get the best results.
Open windows allow fresh air to enter the home, but cold weather makes this impractical for part of the year. Heating and air conditioning repair specialists can install heat recovery ventilators and energy recovery ventilators bring fresh air into the home without losing heat. These ventilators help reduce odors and pollutants.
Consult heating and air conditioning repair professionals to schedule tune-ups and ask about a ductwork inspection to find leaks and evaluate their overall conditions. Technicians have special equipment to measure air leakage and clean dust and debris from inside ducts. They can also locate cracks or inappropriate register covers that grant entry to small animals and insects that could spread disease or aggravate allergies.
Reducing Bacteria, Viruses, and other Infectious Microorganisms
Several specialized tools are available for heating and air conditioning repair technicians to use for sanitizing indoor air. UV lighting has been used to control the spread of infectious microorganisms in hospitals for decades, and it can also be used as part of HVAC systems. UV, or ultraviolet, light is one of the simplest and most effective tools to improve indoor air quality. It is a spectrum of sunlight that prevents growth of viruses, mold spores, bacteria, and other microorganisms. UV attacks the outer shell of microscopic organisms and alters or destroys their DNA. This stops the microorganisms from reproducing, so they cannot spread. The lights are installed in ductwork or inside air handlers.
Heating and air conditioning repair professionals can also apply a broad-spectrum antimicrobial substance to clear existing bacteria then apply an anti-microbial protectant in ductwork that reduces the amount of potentially harmful bacteria circulating throughout the home for up to a year.
Many people in Plano, TX, still enjoy a cozy, warm room with a fireplace. Unfortunately, woodstoves, fireplaces, and gas stoves release potentially dangerous pollutants. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that inhibits the body’s ability to use oxygen.
Common symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure include fatigue, weakness, headaches, nausea, and confusion. Symptoms progress to loss of consciousness and death if carbon monoxide levels continue to increase. Every home should have carbon monoxide and low-oxygen detectors, but carbon monoxide isn’t the only danger.
Nitrogen dioxide is also a byproduct of wood-burning fireplaces. It irritates the nose and throat and causes shortness of breath at high concentrations. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas with a very faint odor, but only people with a very keen sense of smell will notice it. It is associated with lung disease and respiratory infection. People with asthma and COPD are particularly susceptible to nitrogen dioxide.
Incomplete combustion of any fuel, wood or gas, produces particulates. These particulates find their way into the lungs and cause difficulty breathing or aggravate existing conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and allergies. They can also cause long-term damage, and several types of fireplace pollutants have been linked to cancer.
Wood burning produces many more pollutants than gas. The EPA has labeled wood burning fireplaces and stoves as significant sources of indoor air pollution. Ventless fireplace models are the most dangerous, in terms of pollution. The level of pollutants can be reduced by using dry, seasoned wood, especially hard woods, such as maple, ash, beech, and oak. Do not ever use wet, painted, or treated wood in a fireplace. Painted or treated wood releases all the toxins and chemicals in the wood right into the air inside the home.
Routine maintenance is extremely important. Heating and air conditioning repair specialists clean and inspect fireplaces and evaluate ventilation systems. Fireplace pollution inside the home increases if chimneys, flues, or vents are damaged or blocked.
Make sure every element of a fireplace is correctly installed and maintained. Consult heating and air conditioning repair professionals for annual inspections to detect circulation or ventilation problems early. Technicians can also install air purifiers or HEPA air filtration systems to control smoke pollution and remove particles sized at 0.3 microns or larger.
Contact the professionals at One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Fort Worth to help improve the air quality in your home in Plano, TX. The highly-trained heating and air conditioning repair specialists improve ventilation, clean and maintain ductwork, and recommend the best solutions for minimal indoor air pollutants and comfortable humidity levels.