Indoor Air Quality: HVAC Solutions for Cleaner Air

Protecting Your Home with Improved Indoor Air Quality

Ventilation—the V in HVAC—is an often-forgotten function of this important, advanced building system. We are very familiar with the heating and cooling functions, but the ventilation function ensures indoor air is also clean and fresh. Good indoor air quality ensures indoor spaces are healthy and comfortable.

Ventilation is rather complex.

  • Indoor air will begin as polluted as outdoor air. But unless it is cleaned and freshened, the pollutants concentrate inside and make the air unhealthy.
  • Indoor air will begin at the same temperature and relative humidity as outdoor air. Unless this air is warmed, cooled, humidified, or dehumidified, it has an unhealthy effect on the surfaces of walls, floors, and furnishings. When it is conditioned, indoor air feels comfortable and is relatively healthy.
  • Ventilation and comfort are very subjective, dependent upon the comfort preferences of more than one occupant.
  • Health issues of occupants will also impact decisions concerning ventilation; breathing issues, such as allergies and asthma, may require special considerations.

Handling Pollutants

A home will encounter several categories of pollutants. An HVAC system will remove some of these pollutants and avoid others. The good news is that we have very good air quality in our region, and the pollutants we encounter are relatively easy to mitigate.

  • Organic solid particles. Most air particles originate from living organisms: pollen, mold, mildew, (most) dust, and dander are produced by living organisms. These particles are known to trigger allergies and asthma attacks. In addition, organic material is often the meal and vehicle for microscopic pests. Dust mites pose their own dangers since they trigger their own brand of allergic reactions.
  • Inorganic solid particles. These are typically windborne minerals and pose less of an allergy danger.
  • Mold and mildew spores are not only organic allergens but also can multiply and produce more spores in indoor spaces. High humidity is a necessary condition for mold/mildew growth—keep this in mind.
  • Various gases. Materials, finishes, and adhesives will off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially when the products are new. Various exhaust gases, such as carbon monoxide, enter the home from the outdoors (and potentially a leaking gas-powered furnace).
  • Radon is a radioactive gas that enters the home from surrounding soil in basements or crawl spaces. It is relatively uncommon in our immediate vicinity. Testing for radon is readily available and inexpensive.

Indoor Air Quality Mitigation Tactics

  • Removing organic solids. These particles are all heavier than air, and gravity causes them to fall onto every surface in the home. We refer to them corporately as dust. Normal dusting and vacuuming collect most of these particles and remove them from the house forever. In addition, the HVAC system has an air filter that collects particles that remain airborne. Eventually, the filter collects enough particles that the filter is clogged, so the filter needs to be replaced about every three months.
  • Diluting indoor contaminants. Introducing outdoor air to indoor spaces releases some of the VOCs to outdoor spaces. This happens when shower or kitchen exhaust fans are used and by leaving a door or window open when the temperature is nice.
  • The ideal range for indoor relative humidity is between 30 and 50% humidity. When indoor air is more humid, it can promote mold and mildew growth. Maintaining the HVAC system year-round will help keep the humidity level within the prescribed range.
  • Additional equipment. When health issues demand extra measures, technicians can install auxiliary equipment to mitigate specific problems. Ultraviolet lights added to the ductwork will neutralize organic particles, making them inert and reducing the allergen threat. Portable dehumidifiers or room air purifiers can provide added benefits to specific rooms or spaces.

Call the Indoor Air Quality Experts at All Cool AC!

Schedule your indoor air quality consultation by calling All Cool AC & Heating at 281-238-9292 or contact us via email and let our NATE-certified indoor air quality technicians put their experience to work for you.