HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, but these systems can also greatly impact your indoor air quality. As your heating and cooling run, they can affect how much dust and pollution ends up in your air. Therefore, those who want to improve their air quality need to take a long look at their HVAC system. To get the cleanest, safest air for your home, you should be aware of how your HVAC system can alter the atmosphere in your residence.
Poor Ventilation Causes Strange Odors and Air Staleness
One of the most important aspects of HVAC is the ventilation component. Ventilation involves venting out the old air and pulling in fresh, new air. Even in busy cities, the air outside the home is almost always far less polluted than indoor air. This happens because it is easy for high percentages of chemicals, volatile organic compounds, dust and debris to build up in small spaces.
Meanwhile, toxin percentages in outdoor air are far lower simply because there is more air to dilute the concentration of particles. A home without proper ventilation tends to smell stale and somewhat malodorous due to the lack of cleaner air from outside. Things like body odor, cooking smells, perfumes and cleaning vapors all linger and make residential air smell unpleasant. This is an especially big problem in newer homes since modern building techniques create houses that are almost entirely airtight. By installing an HVAC system with proper ventilation, homeowners can circulate fresh air and avoid this issue.
HVAC Helps to Reduce Mold Growth
Both heating and cooling can be used as a form of humidity control. As your HVAC adjusts air temperature, it pulls excess water out of the air and lets it drain away. This is very helpful because most molds only grow in a damp environment.
When your humidity is about 60%, many types of mold can flourish. Molds release spores into the air, and these can be very harmful to human health if inhaled. Health issues associated with mold include:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, scratchy eyes
- Sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin irritation
By running your AC or heater regularly, you can cut back on mold growth and keep your air clear of spores. This is especially important for those who have asthma, COPD or other respiratory issues because mold can trigger respiratory problems.
Depending on your needs and your local climate, you may even want to install a separate humidifier or dehumidifier unit in your HVAC system. This can further fine-tune humidity to keep it at safe levels.
Air Leaks Can Pollute Indoor Air
An often-overlooked HVAC factor is simply creating a well-made, tightly sealed air distribution system. In most homes, HVAC ducts and vents travel through walls, basements and attics. These uninhabited parts of the house are often filled with dust and pests.
Typically, this is not a problem. However, if there are leaks due to issues like poorly fitted vents or torn ducts, you can end up getting this dust, insulation and other debris sucked into your air system. You may notice that your home gets dusty quicker or that the air smells strange and musty.
For the best possible indoor air quality, you need to make sure your HVAC system is properly installed. If you suspect you have leaks impairing your indoor air quality, you can get duct blower testing done. This pressurizes your ducts to identify potential leaks.
HVAC Helps Filter Out Airborne Particles
Just the basic HVAC cycle does a lot to help improve air quality. Both heating and cooling systems are set up to repeatedly pull air through a filter. Each time you run your system, the air in your home is sucked through an intake valve, blown through a filter, cooled or heated and then sent back out into your house. This regularly cleans things like dust, pet hair and pollen from the air.
Depending on the type of filter you have, it can even catch smaller things like viruses or smoke particles. This routine HVAC task is responsible for clearing out a lot of the more noticeable indoor air pollution. There are all sorts of filters to choose from, including standard flat fiberglass filters, pleated filters or reusable electrostatic filters. To get one that eliminates high levels of pollutants, look for a filter with a high MERV rating.
Leaky Ducts May Result in Dangerous Back-Drafting
The ductwork of your HVAC system also plays an important role in overall safety. When ducts are damaged or improperly installed, there is a potential for air leaks around the ducts. This change in pressure can cause ducts to reverse the direction of airflow. In some homes, this is an inconvenience that causes hot, dusty air to come out of the vents.
If you have a combustion-based HVAC system like a furnace, it is even more problematic. In some cases, back-drafting from leaky ducts can cause carbon monoxide and other dangerous substances to enter your home. Since it is especially important to remove these dangerous compounds from the air, those who use combustion-based systems in their home need to pay special attention to their ventilation and ductwork.
Air Purifying Products Can Be Integrated Into HVAC
There are all sorts of helpful air purifying systems such as UV light purifiers and ionization technology. These can kill viruses and bacteria particles that would otherwise slip through even the tightest air filters. There are also other air purifiers that specifically focus on catching odors like smoke so air will smell fresh and clean.
However, you usually cannot just plug these devices in and get purified air immediately. The majority of them need a larger configuration to work properly. They are typically installed as components inside your HVAC system. This ensures that all the air in your home is regularly circulated through the air purifier. With HVAC’s ability to circulate air throughout the house, you can be confident that an purifier installed this way is treating the majority of it.
HVAC Maintenance Removes Any Built-Up Debris
Even with the best filtration system, your ducts and components inside your HVAC will eventually collect a thin layer of grime. As air runs through the system, tiny bits of this ancient debris can get swept up into the air stream and end up floating around your residence. That can continuously impact your indoor air quality if it is not dealt with.
Fortunately, HVAC maintenance can solve this problem and give you cleaner air. Routine maintenance will help clean most major HVAC components. You can also schedule duct cleaning to achieve a thorough cleansing of your system.
If you are interested in improving indoor air quality, D&H Air Conditioning Company is here to help. As one of the leading Tucson HVAC companies, we focus on assisting homeowners with every aspect of their HVAC and indoor air quality equipment. Our experienced technicians can install, replace, repair or maintain entire HVAC systems and each individual device involved. Learn more about our services by giving us a call today.