Thursday, 26 September 2013

How to Improve the Quality of Your Home's Indoor Air?

Indoor air quality is a matter of concern in all homes. The effects of indoor air on health haven’t had the attention it deserves. Until recently, nobody even spared a thought to indoor air quality, not even considering that the indoors can get polluted. Pollution was always connected with outdoor air, the indoors were, apparently, more healthy. 

How do the indoors get polluted?

All indoors can get polluted, giving rise to serious health hazards.  Various studies suggest that the risks from poor quality indoor air can be substantially higher when compared with outdoor contamination. Pollutants in the indoor air can emanate from different sources, such as the fabric of buildings, combustion due to heating or fuel, and infiltration from outside, through water, air, or soil. Some indoor pollutants could be chemicals, living organisms like mold and pests, and gases.

House dust mites can be a major cause for indoor air pollution. These are usually found in bedding, carpet, and furniture. These thrive the most in coastal areas where the humidity is high.

Indoor air pollutants also include radioactive gas formed in the soil- radon – which is the leading cause of lung cancer among those who do not smoke. Radon can enter inside your house through cracks and openings in floors and walls in contact with the ground.

Another major cause is secondhand smoke that comes from burning tobacco or tobacco products. The smoke can cause serious respiratory illnesses and even cancer.

Space heaters, woodstoves, water heaters, gas stoves, dryers, and fireplaces in homes can also be a major source of air pollution. The amount of pollutants that can be produced from these appliances depends on the type and installation of the appliance. Maintenance of the appliance also plays a major role in release of pollutants in the indoor air.

The indoor may be polluted with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals often found in paints and paint strippers, lacquers, cleaning supplies, varnishes, pesticides, office equipment, and repellents. Some air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing can also be a source of VOC.

Volatile organic compounds irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and cause headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some of them can cause cancer.

How can you improve your indoor air quality?

Cleanliness - the magic word to control indoor air pollution.

Careful inspection of the building to look for the presence of damp or moist surfaces and any visible moulds is the first step. Sampling the surfaces with sterile swabs where you suspect that moisture or mould could be present is another step that with help in determining the presence of fungal and microorganisms.

Controlling the different sources of pollution is the most effective way to improve indoor air quality. 

Increasing the ventilation of the house and bringing in fresh air will help in reducing indoor pollutants. Whenever the weather permits, keep your windows and doors open. You can also run the air conditioner keeping the vent control open. Having exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens that will flush the air outdoors will also increase the ventilation and reduce indoor pollutants.

Clean the air filters of your air conditioners regularly. If required, change them regularly they are clean and no dust is trapped within.

Adjusting the indoor humidity can also decrease indoor air pollutants. High humidity increase the moisture in the air and the dampness will increase the cultivation of mold. The best way to do this is to maintain the indoor humidity between 30 and 50%. You could use a moisture or humidity gauge, to check the indoor air humidity.

These are some steps you could follow to maintain healthy indoor air quality in your homes. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Home Air Conditioning - Spring Cleaning Tips

In most households, spring cleaning is a common practice. Not only does it involve a lot of work and patience, but also needs presence of mind and a good memory. The spring cleaning list can be difficult to remember and sometimes a few slip out.

Although overwhelming, the easiest place to start is the home air conditioning system. Cleaning of your home heating and cooling system should be definitely on your list. At least, this ensures (and justifies) the most important reason to resting at home – the comfort.

Clean air is a clean home! Make spring cleaning a tradition. It is a good idea in each spring to use a paper clip or wire to poke through the hole and clear the list as you complete each chore. 

Here is a list of things you can do to get started with cleaning your home Air Conditioning system:

1. Conduct a check of your air-conditioning and heating equipment whenever a new season begins.

2. Clean and replace the furnace and air-conditioning filters every month. You can replace the filters with fiberglass ones. These will last only for a month, while others typically last three to four months. You could also consider installing HEPA filters, which last up to six months. They can be easily cleaned with a vacuum nozzle.

3. If your air conditioner has a drainage hole at the base of the cabinet, as most units do, you need to take special care to clean them. This hole is typically found beneath the evaporator fins and plays an important role in the efficient working of the air conditioner. 

4. Wash the exterior part of the condenser unit with a hose. This will remove dirt and debris that would have accumulated in the fin area.

5. For the dehumidifier cleaning, remove the housing and allow the unit to dry completely. Use a vacuum to clean every accessible surface and crevice.

6. Chiller tubes are tubes that can become packed with deposits of algae, slime, and sludge. Cleaning these tubes regularly ensures that they not only operate efficiently, but also help in controlling the growth of harmful bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. Using a simple tube cleaner is the easiest way as it flushes out the water through the tubes, which also loosens the deposits.

7. Make sure the doors and windows of your house are caulked and sealed properly. This will not only keep humidity and heat from seeping inside your home, but also help in the efficient working of your air conditioners.

8. Check to see if any moisture or water is dripping inside the house. If yes, it is probably due to a dirty evaporator coil.  Clean the evaporator coil or call for a technician.

9. Finally, check and clean fans and belts. It you see any signs of wear and tear, replace the part immediately. Periodic lubrication of parts and valves also helps a lot.

Preventative HVAC Maintenance is a Good Investment

Apart from these tips, it is highly recommended that you hire the services of a heating ventilation and cooling contractor in your area. The contractor will perform periodic checks of your entire HVAC systems. Not only will they clean and maintain the systems. They will also be able to predict any major repair that may be round the corner. What is more, they will also offer advice on how to prevent the problem or solve it early, so you can save yourself from unwanted repairs that would cost you much in the future.