Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

Everything You Need to Know About Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

In March 2020, the whole world became more aware of how respiratory illnesses spread when Covid-19 began to attack our world and disrupt our lives. Scientists and medical professionals encountered a new, highly contagious illness and we all have been learning best practices “on the fly.”

The current understanding is that the virus transmits via aerosol droplets; we were reminded to cough or sneeze into our elbow or a tissue, wash our hands frequently, and stay home when we are ill. Later we were introduced to face masks, social distancing, and the term “indoor air quality” (IAQ).

Significant instruction centers around public spaces; we are encouraged to wear face masks inside, continue to be socially distant, and limit indoor gatherings. Current research has not uncovered the perfect, fail-safe solution to prevent viral transmission and ensure public safety.

Instead, we are encouraged to use many different methods together to improve Residential Indoor Air Quality. The personal safety measures are inexact since we all follow them imprecisely.

Owners of public indoor spaces take extra precautions to keep guests and employees as safe as possible. These measures give us more confidence in returning to activities such as working, worshipping, and shopping and are not based on choices made by occupants.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) offers guidelines for improving all IAQ; remarkable improvements in ventilation, air filtration, and air cleaning devices are creating safer indoor spaces.

  • By increasing the exchange of outdoor air, we can dilute the “dirty” indoor air.
  • High-quality air filters can remove 99.7% of all airborne particles.
  • Air purifiers can neutralize and remove viruses and other pollutants.

Applying these same principles, ASHRAE has provided guidelines for residential Residential Indoor Air Quality in regards to Covid-19.

Here are Residential Indoor Air Quality recommendations1 for keeping your home safe: 

  • Operate your HVAC system within normal comfort levels.
    • Temperatures should range between 68-780F and relative humidity should stay between 40-50%.
    • If you turn the system off, make sure to open windows for plenty of ventilation.
    • The lack of ventilation or the circulation of air leads to poor Residential Indoor Air Quality.
  • Improve Residential Indoor Air Quality by adding fresh, outdoor air as often as possible.
  • Increase air movement. Ceiling fans increase energy efficiency; moving air feels cooler and allows you to raise the air conditioner settings by as much as 100F. It also increases air circulation, preventing the air from being stagnant.
  • Improve the quality of your air filter. Before Covid-19, most homeowners did not put much forethought into air filtration. Air filters were cheap and needed to be changed routinely every three months.
    • Back in 1987, ASHRAE completed research and set standards for the manufacturing of air filters.
    • Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is the rating standard to help consumers determine quality. The higher the MERV number, from 1 to 20, the smaller the open. Smaller openings trap more of the airborne particles and remove them from circulation.
    • MERV 13 and higher are recommended for removing particles the size of viruses.
    • A denser air filter will reduce airflow, so check with your HVAC manual for air filter tolerances. Call your HVAC professional if you need further help balancing the need for cleaner air and sufficient airflow.
  • Consider air purifiers. If your HVAC system cannot handle a MERV 13 air filter, explore air cleaners or purifiers to improve IAQ.
    • Ultra-violet lights can be installed inside the ductwork. Ultra-violet light will neutralize (kill) microbes, mold spores, and pollen, including viruses. The inert (dead) cells will be trapped by the air filter.
    • Air purifiers have multi-level filtration and remove particulates, including viruses. Both whole-house and portable, room-sized air purifiers are available.
  • Use exhaust fans as needed. Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans provide valuable ventilation when needed and contribute to air circulation.
  • Keep your HVAC system running smoothly with regular maintenance. Not only does preventative maintenance keep your system in operation as long as possible, cleaning the interior components removes deposits of potentially harmful particles, including viruses and prevents them from recirculating throughout your home.

Need help with improving your Residential Indoor Air Quality?

Let us know how we can help with your Residential Indoor Air Quality, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Covid-19 and Residential Indoor Air Quality

Tips to Have a Mold Free HVAC System in Your Home

How to Have a Mold-Free HVAC System

How to Have a Mold Free HVAC System

If the problem of mold keeps reoccurring, please consult with a mold remediation professional.

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) are designed to heat and cool, freshen, clean, and dehumidify the air in your home for your protection and comfort. When the system ceases to provide one or more of these functions it can lead to a mold infestation.

A serious mold infestation is hard to eradicate and can be very harmful to your family; do not wait—call a professional.

Since it is so serious, let’s consider some ways to make sure mold does not become a problem inside your home. Let’s start with your HVAC system.

Humidity Regulation is the Key to a Mold Free HVAC System

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determines the ideal humidity for indoor air is between 30 and 50% humidity; expect between 30-40% in the winter and between 40 and 50% in the summer months.

Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, organic matter (it’s not picky), and a dark place, with little to no sunlight. Keeping the humidity low throughout the house restricts the places mold can grow. The indoor air should not feel “sticky,” even on summer days with high humidity outdoors. Use bathroom exhaust fans when showering. If it does feel “sticky,” call your HVAC professional.

Preventative Maintenance Promotes a Mold Free HVAC System

The second thing mold needs are organic material. Mold can bloom on wall paint, chalk, or wooden doors, but it can also feast on collected dust and dander. Matter of fact, the mold pollen will most likely travel together with dust, just waiting for moisture to activate it.

Make sure that you change air filters regularly, every three months at a minimum. Have an HVAC professional service your unit regularly, annually is recommended. Make sure your ductwork is cleaned as needed.

A preventative maintenance inspection can remove dust and repair components that contribute to water leaks. Prevention is much more effective—and safer than remediation.

Mold Removal

Even with these measures, it is not uncommon to find small quantities of mold. So how can you safely remove it?

  • If the affected area is larger than 9 square feet, the problem is large enough to call a mold remediation professional. Smaller areas can be cleaned with proper preparation and technique.
  • Mold spores can be harmful to your respiratory system; be very aware of the danger. Take the precaution of wearing a mask and gloves before cleaning or scrapping mold away.

Find the right cleaning supplies to keep a Mold Free HVAC System

Mold elimination products are readily available. They generally consist of harsh chemicals, so make sure you wear a mask and have good ventilation for the fumes.

If you are looking for an environmentally friendly cleaning solution, start with soap and water; sometimes that is all that is needed. Another easy remedy is baking soda and water; it kills even black mold and acts as a bleaching agent. Since you are near the mold, always wear a mask.

If you have asthma, allergies, or other breathing issues, it is best for you to stay away and let someone else take care of the problem.

Throw Out Food Items

As mold grows on food, it is reproducing well beyond what you see. Some molds produce a toxin, known as mycotoxins, which will make you very ill. If you see mold on a food item, consider it lost and dispose of it; it is not worth the risk.

Interested in a Mold Free HVAC System? 

Let us know how we can help with your indoor air quality concerns and creating a Mold Free HVAC System, call AllCool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

How to Have a Mold-Free HVAC System

Improving Indoor Air Quality for Seasonal Allergy Relief

Improving Indoor Air Quality for Seasonal Allergy Relief

Improving Indoor Air Quality for Allergy Sufferers

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or have asthma triggered by pollen, no one needs to tell you when pollen or mold spore counts are high. Severe allergies often require medical care, so anything you can do to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) is worth considering. All Cool has some good news; consider these steps to reducing allergens in your home to remove the worst allergen concentrations for significantly improved indoor air quality and allergy relief.

4 Steps for Improved Indoor Air Quality with Existing Equipment

Your home already has the equipment to help you remove allergens and keep them from accumulating in your home. Using these pieces of equipment in unison will help maintain good indoor air quality and remove irritating particulates. Equipment already in your home include:

  1. Vacuum regularly. Dusting and vacuuming regularly are the first and best means of removing airborne particles and keeping them from circulating. It is simple and you can adjust how often you clean seasonally if you find that it is advantageous. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter removes the maximum amount of dust, pollen, mold spores, and dander.
  2. Change your air filter often. Your HVAC system conditions the air to make your home safe and comfortable. It heats or cools the air, cleans it, dehumidifies it, and circulates it as needed. The primary component for cleaning the air is an air filter, located so as to clean the air before it is drawn into a chamber to be heated or cooled. Air filters are rated according to a MERV rating system; the higher the number the better. Purchase a filter with a MERV 12 or higher rating. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, a High-Efficiency Particulate Air filter (HEPA) is recommended. These filters will remove 99% of airborne particulates. An air filter should be replaced at least every three months–more frequently if needed.
  3. Clean ductwork annually. Airborne particles are carried into the ductwork as the air circulates. When a blower cycle ends, the air movement comes to a stop and any duct or pollen is deposited inside the duct. If you remove allergens throughout the house, don’t forget your ducts.
  4. Manage humidity. During the cooling season, the AC removes humidity from the air, keeping the indoor air between 30 to 50% humidity. This helps to minimize the growth of mold and mildew. Spores from these fungi contribute to the allergen count in your indoor air. Refrain from starting and stopping the AC during the season to control humidity and prevent mold growth.

3 Further Steps with Added Equipment

If your quest for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) needs additional help, consider these simple enhancements to further eliminate allergens from your home.

  1. An Air Purifier. Air purifiers are small portable units that actively remove airborne contaminants in a given space with a variety of sources. The filtration is often graduated, removing larger than smaller particles in filters that may be cleaned or replaced. Often, they also use activated charcoal to remove harmful gases and odors. There are also whole home models that connect to your HVAC system for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) throughout the house.
  2. Ultraviolet light (UV). UV disrupts the cell membranes of living cells (it causes sunburn) and is quite deadly for pollen, mold, dust mites, viruses, and bacteria. UV lights are installed inside the ductwork and neutralize living cell particulates, making them easily removed by the air filter.
  3. House plants. That’s right, ordinary house plants. In 1989, NASA conducted a Clean Air Study to determine which plants would work well in closed environments such as Mars and Lunar bases. Since such bases would be manufactured environments, they were looking for plants that might remove harmful gases given off by building materials after manufacturing. The top 10 plants they recommend include the following:

English Ivy

An evergreen perennial that is perfect for bathrooms because it effectively takes fecal particles out of the air. It grows and spreads out horizontally, serving as an eight-inch-high ground cover if planted outdoors. English Ivy also combats mold, which is great for damp spaces like a bathroom. English ivy requires about four hours of sunlight daily and needs a generous amount of water.

Gerbera Daisy

This plant very effectively removes common off-gases, such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and carbon monoxide from the air. It grows to be two feet tall and produces bright colored flowers. Water this plant at the base, but not too frequently. (Overwatering any plant can stimulate the growth of mold.)

Snake Plant / Mother-In-Law’s Tongue

This plant is very easy to care for, just don’t overwater. It is a great plant for your bedroom since it releases extra oxygen overnight. It also removes common off-gases, such as trichloroethylene, toluene, benzene, xylene, and formaldehyde from the air.

Aloe Vera

This succulent enjoys lots of sunlight but not too much water. It is a well-known salve for burns and skin injuries; just cut off a leaf and apply the juice to the affected site. It removes some of the off-gases that result from strong detergents and floor finishes.

Spider Plant

Spider plants are easy to grow and reproduce with runners that grow lots of tiny new spider plants. They remove carbon monoxide and xylene, a common solvent used in manufacturing rubber and printed materials.

Weeping Fig

This popular and common house plant removes formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air. Like a fussy house guest, this plant does not like change. It prefers indirect sunlight and no drafts, but keep it happy and it will purify your house for many years.

Peace Lily

This lovely plant with strong dark green leaves develops a specialized leaf that turns white and shelters an elegant flower. It rids the house of formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene and produces extra humidity as a bonus. Water it about once per week, but keep it out of the reach of pets, since it produces a mild toxin irritating to dogs and cats that might nibble on them.

Areca Palm

This large, elegant palm is easy to care for and very beneficial. It moisturizes the air, effectively removes toxins from the air, and looks good doing it.

Rubber Plant

Rubber plants are large plants that have large, simple leaves and are favored by decorators and designers. It tolerates low natural light well, is easy to care for, and removes formaldehyde, a common off-gas from carpet and plastics.

Boston Fern

The lush foliage and long, graceful fronds of this fern grab toxins from the air and increases humidity levels in indoor spaces. It needs regular watering and an occasional misting of the leaves.

Remember that some houseplants can be toxic to pets or children. It’s wise to research the best uses and placement before you make a purchase. Read more at Gardening Know How: Low Allergy Houseplants: Which Houseplants Relieve Allergies

Interested in Improving Indoor Air Quality? We Can Help!

If you are interested in learning how we can improve your indoor air quality, call us at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Improving Indoor Air Quality for Seasonal Allergy Relief



Indoor Air Quality: Poor IAQ Can Trigger Respiratory Issues

Indoor Air Quality: Poor IAQ Can Trigger Respiratory Issues

Reducing indoor allergens that can trigger respiratory problems

If you suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma or severe allergies, each season carries unique indoor air quality struggles. During the summer and winter months, you are tempted to keep the windows and doors closed for comfort, but stale air and airborne particles recirculate.

The pleasant outdoor temps of spring and fall tempt you to open windows, but both are prime pollen and mold seasons. When you struggle to breathe, indoor air quality (IAQ) is a concern no matter the season.

“Most of the things that cause problems are odorless,” says Dr. Nicholas BuSaba, associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard -Medical School. “So, in many cases, there’s nothing to alert you to the problem.” Symptoms and flare-ups might be the first indication of poor indoor air quality, followed by fatigue, sleepiness, and digestive problems.

Steps to Improving IAQ

If you live with asthma or allergies, there are measures you can take to improve indoor air quality and prevent the onset of flare-ups. It is not possible to eliminate all allergens, the key is to reduce the numbers and therefore your exposure to them. Here are a few strategies you can take to reduce airborne particles and breathe easier.

Clean Thoroughly

Having a regular house cleaning regime is an important step in removing particulates before they become airborne again.

  • Focus on obvious surfaces, such as furniture and accessories, but look for dust, dander, and pet hair in hard-to-reach areas as well. Use cleaning products manufactured to hold dust. Remove clutter that traps and holds dust.
  • Vacuum carpets and area rugs regularly, perhaps as often as twice weekly. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Wash bedding and drapes often, especially if you share your home with pets. Don’t forget the items dogs or cats frequently lie on. Use the hot water cycle on your washing machine—the water should be at least 130° Consider dust mite-proof covers on bedding and mattresses/box springs.

In-door Plants: A Positive or a Negative?

In-door plants add beauty and ambiance to your home and they are oxygen-producing additions. So, is there a problem? In general, plants help with indoor air quality, but the soil they reside in might be a source of mold spores and flowers a source of pollen.

Allergens affect individuals differently. This might be a problem you have not considered. Overall, if your respiratory issues are severe, consider whether the green is worth the risk of attacks.

Change filters often

Be aware of appliances around the house that have filters and clean or change them often. Vacuum cleaners have filters. Clothes dryers have filters. HVAC systems have filters. Every time you clean or change a filter, you are removing very fine airborne particles from your indoor space.

Manufacturers recommend changing the HVAC system air filter every three months, but if you suffer from a respiratory illness, change the filter more frequently.

How often? Perhaps monthly during spring and fall pollen season. Since airborne particles are also trapped in your ventilation ducts, plan on having them cleaned regularly.

Consider an Air Purifier for Better Indoor Air Quality

If indoor air quality is important because of respiratory illnesses and your home has unique problems related to airborne particles, additional technology might help. If you live near a construction site, near a busy thoroughfare, or on a dusty road, you might need more than just the HVAC air filter.

If your family pet makes your eyes water or the plant Granny gave you causes you to sneeze, consider an air purifier. Portable ionic air purifiers are affordable solutions to help capture irritants that may trigger your symptoms.

They come in attractive styles and can be placed near the source of the problem. You might consider a dehumidifier for troubling sources of humidity that can lead to mold and mildew growth.

Fresh Air is the Best!

It is important in every season to open windows and doors to release stale air and contaminants and to fill the house with fresh air. Find a day with moderate temperatures and open up… A complete exchange of air happens approximately every 15 minutes.

Want more information about Indoor Air Quality? We Can Help!

If you are considering improving your Indoor Air Quality, call us at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Connect with All Cool AC and Heating on Facebook.

Indoor Air Quality: Poor IAQ Can Trigger Respiratory Issues

Do I need an air purifier?

Do I need an HVAC air purifier?

HVAC Air Purifier: When to Decide if it is Right for You

Most people do not give indoor air quality much thought when our biggest concerns are dust and pollen. For the first time in 100 years, the world is experiencing a pandemic that has people concerned. The EPA tells us air inside can be at least 2 to 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. Businesses and homeowners are both equally concerned about making the air in indoor spaces as safe as possible.

This might be an ideal time to consider new technology for ensuring safe indoor air; an HVAC air purifier. An air purifier removes particles from indoor air more effectively than regular HVAC filters. Air purifiers can remove tiny particles that can be harmful to humans, particles as small as mold spores, bacteria, and viruses. Many air purifiers are installed inside of HVAC systems ductwork.

Are the benefits of HVAC air purifiers worth the cost?

Air filters effectively remove dust, pet dander, and pollen. Air purifiers can remove bacteria, viruses, and volatile organic compounds (VOC). They can also neutralize smoke from tobacco or fireplaces and odors from kitchens and bathrooms. So, how can you know if an air purifier is cost-effective for your need?

Clean air might be important enough to consider an air purifier if:

  • You have a need for Covid-19 mitigation in the workplace for employees and/or customers
  • You or a family member have breathing difficulties due to allergies, asthma, or other chronic respiratory illnesses
  • Your business experiences significant VOC, business such as printing, dry cleaning or auto body repair or from new furniture or carpet

If your current HVAC filter is insufficient for your air quality needs, you might consider an air purifier.

Types of Air Purifiers

Different air purifiers have been developed to meet specific needs. Consider these examples:

  • HEPA air filters are high energy particulate air filters. HEPA filters have openings as small as .3 microns, trapping 99% of all airborne particles. Since the openings are so small, more force is needed to force air through the filter. Not every system can accept a HEPA filter without causing HVAC performance issues.
  • Activated Carbon filters use naturally occurring carbon with very small pores. The small openings trap gases, such as VOC and smoke. These filters are also used in fire restoration applications.
  • HVAC ultraviolet light air purifiers are inserted inside system ductwork. Ultraviolet light kills microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. Ultraviolet light is often installed in tandem with HEPA filters.
  • Electrostatic air purifiers are also installed inside the HVAC ductwork. Electricity flows through a network of fibers, creating static electricity in the air. Particles are collected by the static in the fibers and the filter will need to be washed frequently to remove collected particles This purifier will remove microorganisms from the air in ducts.
  • Ionizing air purifiers use electricity to charge some airborne particles. These ionized particles attract other particles, causing them to stick together. The large charged particles are trapped by the HVAC filter.
  • Portable filters of various sizes can also be acquired as standalone units for spaces with intermittent air quality challenges.

Want more information about HVAC Air Purifiers? We Can Help!

If you are considering an HVAC air purifier to better your indoor air quality, call us at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email.

Connect with All Cool AC and Heating on Facebook.

Do I need an HVAC air purifier?



UV Light Sanitizers for Your HVAC System

UV Light Components for Your HVAC System

What an Air Purification System Can and Can’t Do

Reduce Indoor Air Pollutants with an Air Purification System

During this current pandemic, we see countless numbers of ads about the different sanitizing products on the market. Some are effective, while others are not. The most proven method of removing indoor air pollutants is using UV light sanitizers within your HVAC system. Although a UV light system inside your HVAC system cannot prevent contaminants from entering your home on your person or through open doors or windows, it can kill mold, bacteria, and some airborne viruses. This can be a great addition to regulate your indoor air quality within your HVAC system. This is especially critical for those with compromised immune systems, sensitivity to allergens, asthma sufferers, or children.

In 2012, Duke University conducted research providing evidence that UV light sanitizers can significantly reduce mold, bacteria, and virus transmission when combined with standard cleaning solutions. Although commercial based cleaners are not used in most homes, UV light sanitizers can be added to many existing HVAC systems.

The common method of adding these components is done in two ways:

Coil Sanitization

UV Light Components for Your HVAC SystemYour HVAC’s indoor coil can be fitted with UV C components to remove mold and other contaminants. Your coil removes liquid from the air to dehumidify your home. As air flows over the moist indoor coil, dust, debris, pet dander, and other pathogens stick to the coil. The coil can have mold and fungus grow if it is not cleaned regularly. If neglected those same allergens can enter your indoor air.

Coil sterilization light can remove irritants from your coil. The UV light sanitizers will direct its focus on the coil itself to kill everything before it gets into your indoor air quality. With a professionally installed UV light sanitizer, pollutants are removed 24/7 since the light remains on at all times. When a UV light is paired with a quality HVAC air filter, you will be provided some of the best indoor air quality possible.

Air Sanitization

Air sanitization products are a step beyond HVAC system coil sanitization. The air sanitization components use activated carbon to remove odors and chemicals from indoor air. Hazardous fumes from carpet, furniture, household cleaners, and industrial solvent concerns make your HVAC system an excellent candidate for this technology advancement.

In this world of pandemic crisis, we are all looking for the best solution to indoor air quality. We want to protect our family, our home, and our pets from pollutants, contaminants, and pathogens. Although HVAC UV light sanitizing components are not foolproof, they will take your indoor air quality protection to the next level. They are a great solution to remove bacteria, viruses, chemical irritants, pet dander, dust, and debris. These are all common irritants for those with chronic respiratory issues, sensitivity to chemicals, and asthma.

UV Light Sanitizer Questions

If you have questions about UV light sanitizers for your HVAC system, call All Cool A/C today at 281-238-9292. We look forward to working for you in the near future.