Indoor Air Quality Products and Services
Long before there was a threat from Covid-19, the air quality inside our homes and in commercial buildings has had a direct result on our health. Proper ventilation has always been a crucial step in maintaining a comfortable and healthy environment inside homes and businesses. Still, it’s even more critical now, not only for comfort but for our overall health as well.
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can be blamed for all kinds of uncomfortable symptoms, from stuffy noses, dry eyes, sore throats, and itchy skin, among the minor ailments associated with a poorly ventilated building. In structures that lack proper air circulation, long-term effects of living with poor IAQ can range from chronic coughing and wheezing from asthma symptoms to lung cancer from asbestos exposure and possibly even death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Since the start of the 21st century, the HVAC industry has been responsible for a long list of innovations in both residential and commercial structures. Before then, the gold standard for improving indoor air quality was the High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter, removing at least 99.97% of all airborne particles larger than 0.3 micrometers.
HEPA filters were created in the 1940s for use in the Manhattan Project, a government research study that led to the creation of the atomic bomb. With so much radioactive material floating around in these laboratories, they needed to have a superior air filtration method. With the HEPA filter design, it was possible to circulate air through these labs without contaminating the surrounding environment with excessive radiation.
All I Need Is the Air That I Breathe.
While it is a beautiful sentiment for a song, it’s factually inadequate. We need a lot more than clean air to breathe for our survival, with food, coffee, and Netflix completing the list of universal needs.
Unfortunately, the “fresh” air that comes into our homes arrives partially damaged from the factory. The air outside of our house already has plenty of pollution by the time it reaches our open windows and HVAC system intake vents, picking up pollen, molds, and chemicals along the way.
The measure of a sound HVAC system isn’t just about keeping your home cooler or warmer; it’s also about keeping the air in that environment clean. Thanks to many HVAC technology innovations over the last couple of decades, people can live healthier and more comfortably than ever before. With the greater availability of options like multi-zone thermostats, variable-speed A/C fan motors, and apps for your smartphone and tablet to control it all, there’s no need for anyone in your home ever to be too hot or too cold again.
What is Ruining My Indoor Air Quality?
Two main categories are used regarding airborne pollutants, those being particulate and chemical. Mold and mildew deserve a separate category since they are easily the pollutants that can do the most structural damage to a home. Maintaining a consistent temperature, allowing fresh outdoor air through windows and vents while keeping an eye out for too much humidity will make your home more comfortable; it doesn’t do much for your family’s health. Knowing a little about these various pollutants and the symptoms they cause can go a long way toward discovering an HVAC problem that could be making you sick.
Particulate Air Pollutants: Dust, dirt, pet dander, dead skin flakes, pollen, or any other solid matter with a measurement greater than 2.5 microns. For comparison, a human hair is approximately 50 microns in width, so we’re talking about exceedingly small particles that can have various adverse effects on people.
The best defense we have as homeowners against particulate irritants is a regular cleaning schedule that includes changing the filters in your HVAC system. Wipe down as many of the flat surfaces around your home at least once a week as you can with a damp cloth or a “Swiffer”-type cleaning tool. Removing the standing dust prevents it from being recirculated by the HVAC system and will extend the life of your HVAC filters.
Chemical Air Pollutants: Just about everything in our homes was created through some type of chemical-based process. Plastics, which contain nothing but chemicals, are subjected to high heat in microwave ovens and dishwashers, causing the release of bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is known to cause adverse health effects in the brain and prostate gland, as well as having a negative impact on children’s behavior.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are airborne chemicals that are a by-product of reactions between the air in your home and the various products. From the glue used to install your hardwood floors, the fabrics that make up your furniture, cooking smoke, and tobacco smoke all mix and mingle with the air to create even more potent chemicals. Like the evilest chemistry set ever, your home is continuously brewing benzene, formaldehyde, ozone, and carbon monoxide, all of which are known carcinogens.
Mold & Mildew, AKA “the Things That Wouldn’t Leave!”
Another unwelcome particulate guest in too many homes is the combination of mold and mildew. In hot and humid climates, such as in South Texas, it is easy for mildew and mold growth to invade a home. Damp, warm, and dark are like the “3 R’s” in real estate to these funguses. Or fungi. Fun guys? Regardless, they grow where it’s moist and where they’re unlikely to be disturbed. They’re probably hiding because, deep down, they know they’re not worthy of being a guest in your home.
Unfortunately, once in your home, this slimy, parasitic cousin of the mushroom digs in deep, being nearly impossible to remove from fabrics, carpets, walls, even the wooden support beams of your home. The only permanent solution to a mold problem is to repair any leaks on the property that may hasten mold growth and then perform mold remediation. Such service means replacing every piece of drywall, floorboard, and beam that shows evidence of mold growth.
What Products Are Available to Improve My IAQ?
Over the last two decades, a major push has been underway in the heating and air conditioning industry toward new technologies. Manufacturers are adding features that improve efficiency as well as the overall performance of HVAC systems. Smart thermostats, hot water recirculation systems, tankless water heaters, variable speed air conditioner motors, and ultraviolet light-treated air have been a tremendous help for those that want to improve the IAQ of their homes.
HEPA Filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filters are an advanced method of removing particulate and chemical irritants from the air. They are made of glass and plastic fibers bound together with an acrylic binder to produce a tightly woven panel that allows air to pass through it while removing 99.97 of all particles in the air. HEPA filters effectively remove all airborne particles as small as 3 microns but fall short in their ability to regulate chemical pollutants. Only HEPA filters that utilize some form of activated carbon, usually charcoal, can provide moderate relief from foul odors.
Air Scrubber™ by Aerus: The Air Scrubber is an add-on product that can be installed in any existing HVAC systems that will remove any odors, gases, or chemical by-products from the air in the home. By using their proprietary ActivePure® Technology, instead of drawing all contaminants into the HVAC system to be eliminated, the Air Scrubber sends out ionically charged moisture droplets that chemically react to destroy pathogens on surfaces.
According to the Aerus website, ActivePure® can protect against VOC’s like nitrous oxide and formaldehyde, as well as airborne bacteria that can cause H1N1 (swine flu), H5N8 (bird flu), and even Covid19 (coronavirus). The technology has been tested and implemented in hospitals and health care facilities where the need for anti-microbial environments is critical for effective patient care.
REME Halo® by RGF Environmental Group: The REME HALO™ system is a whole-home, in-duct air purifying system that, depending on the model selected, uses ultraviolet light to purify every cubic inch of air in your home. Installed in the supply plenum of your HVAC system, all air that enters the A/C unit is passed across an active UV light to alter the ionization of dust and dirt particles, causing them to cling to HVAC filters more easily.
REME Halo™ also employs their Reflective Electro Magnetic Energy technology to produce a hydro-peroxide plasma that can travel across the air through particle-to-particle contact. In the same way hydrogen peroxide reacts to contaminants on our skin to disinfect an area, our atmosphere is being purified. This ionization technique also eliminates the need for air to pass through the HVAC system to be treated.
Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning Offers Several IAQ Improvement Services:
- Inspect and Replace Filters
- Install Air Purifiers
- HVAC System Repairs
- HVAC System Maintenance
- HVAC System Installation
At Nick’s, we know this information is a lot to take in all at once, so be sure to explore the links through this page to understand better what products and services you may need. Still have a few questions? Give Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning a call and speak to one of our friendly customer service representatives to set up an appointment.
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