November 18, 2020
The coming winter will mark one year since a global pandemic was on many Californians’ minds, and what a year it has been! We know much more than we used to about how to keep our friends and family safe, so what will that mean as California homeowners spend more time inside this winter?
Understanding the state of your IAQ (indoor air quality) is an essential first step towards upgrading to a healthy home, and keeping your air as clean as possible. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Indoor Air Is More Contaminated Than Outdoor Air
Even before the smoke from recent forest fires and the outbreak of Covid-19, the EPA has determined that the air inside a building can be twice as contaminated as the air outside, and in some cases as high as five times more contaminated. The reason why is that once particles enter the air in your home, they end up stuck inside, recirculating the ductwork of your central heating and air system.
This includes particles, contaminants, and chemicals that originate inside your own home! Some of the most common indoor air contaminants include:
VOCs from cleaning chemicals, carpets, and furniture
Dust & dirt
Viruses & bacteria
Improving IAQ with Better Home Performance
Before you jump to the conclusion that a portable air purifier can take care of this problem, it is important to understand how your home’s building materials, design, and construction could be contributing to the poor IAQ in your home.
How Contaminants Enter a Home
Of course, you can’t control how all of the air gets into your home. And while it is best to keep open doors and windows to a minimum (to save energy), there are other ways outside air can infiltrate the breathing air inside your home. This can be done through the tiny air holes, gaps, and invisible cracks hidden throughout your house, and can be made worse by poor insulation in areas like the attic. We recommend the following upgrades to provide greater control over the contaminants in your home:
Air Sealing - Air sealing is the process of uncovering all of the air leaks throughout your home, and sealing them up using an airtight, expanding spray foam material.
Insulation Upgrades - The better your insulation, the more protected your home will be from outside temperatures. A properly insulated home will increase the effectiveness of air sealing, as well!
Next Level IAQ: Ventilation & Purification
Once your home has a good, airtight building envelope, you can begin to address how to actively remove the existing contaminants in your home. This can be done by properly ventilating your home with the assistance of bathroom fans or oven range hoods (as long as they vent outside), and in some cases, whole-home ventilation systems like heat recovery ventilation systems (HRVs).
For homes that are particularly prone to poor IAQ, or for occupants that have severe sensitivities or health concerns, air purification and filtration can provide an even cleaner indoor environment. One whole-home air purification system we utilize here at Hassler Heating in homes throughout Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties is a UV light purification system installed inside your central HVAC system, which disrupts the replicating DNA of viruses and bacteria that enter you breathing air. Learn how it works here!