A Healthy Summer for Indoor Air Quality


Another summer season is upon us, which means that soon our houses will be closed up tight while the A/C runs all day. Even though it’s not technically summer in Iowa yet, the high temperatures outside have already driven most of us indoors to crank up the cool air. Unlike the issues homeowners face winter indoor air quality, summer brings about a different set of potential hazards. While the colder weather forces us inside for most of the day, the warmer weather promotes lots of outside activity – which affects our indoor air differently.

While outside we interact with seasonal air pollution, a higher ozone concentration, and high humidity. We bring these elements back into the home with us. Three or more months of forced air in a tight environment where moisture, mold spores, and ozone issues combine can exacerbate allergies and trigger illness. Though we traditionally spend more time outside in the summer, there are days and weeks when the temperatures keep everyone house-bound.

7 Helpful Tips

So how does a homeowner combat these elements and maintain a healthy summer indoor air quality? By implementing just a few of these tips, you will be able to help keep your indoor air quality at healthier levels throughout the summer season.

  1. Exhaust Ventilation – The four basic types of ventilation are exhaust, supply, balanced, and energy/heat recovery. Of these, exhaust is the most overlooked yet important source for summer humidity. Exhaust fans remove humidity from the kitchen and bathroom, preventing a build-up of moisture that could lead to mold. Make sure that your exhaust fans are running at optimum efficiency – and that they are used often.
  2. A Strong Air Filter – A strong air filter on your HVAC system will greatly help in removing airborne contaminants and allergens from the air. Changing your filter out at least once a month is recommended during the summer when HVAC activity is constant. There are a variety of filters available – including inexpensive fiberglass options that are not very effective at removing smaller particles. Make sure that your filter is made from polyester/cotton and has a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) around 8-12. A Helpful Guide to MERV Ratings
  3. Fresh Air – When we get into the dog days, it becomes increasingly more difficult to let in fresh air. But on clear, early summer days (when the ozone levels are low), try opening the windows in the early morning. Our summers are relatively mild, with lows in the mid 60’s, so it’s possible to ventilate your home on a regular basis. Be mindful of the humidity levels though – and keep the windows closed on rainy or overly humid days. Damp air can encourage mold and mildew growth.
  4. UV Germicidal Lights – Germicidal UV light filters are a safe, non-chemical approach to disinfecting indoor air. These filters effectively sterilize potentially poisonous organisms, eventually destroying them completely. Most designs are simple, inexpensive and function like a typical air filter. They have installed an HVAC system’s ductwork and produce a safe dosage of ultraviolet light (about 16,000 microwatt seconds per square centimeter) that stops the growth of toxic organisms. The lights work even when your HVAC isn’t turned on, ensuring continuous disinfection. More Indoor Air Quality Products
  5. Clothing Contamination – When you go outside, your clothing will possibly pick up whatever allergens or toxins are in the air. In the summer there are fewer allergens, but more toxins generated through the heat and ozone levels. Before you enter your home, make sure to remove your shoes and brush off your clothing – especially if you have been around animals or plant life. Also, add welcome mats in front of all doors to encourage everyone to keep the dust and dirt outside.
  6. Clean Floors – Most people will use a vacuum to clean their carpets and rugs, which is important if you want to keep allergens from outside at bay. But it is also essential to keep wood and tile floors clean. In addition to sweeping them for dirt and dust, they must also be mopped to pick up the dust and detritus that a vacuum will leave behind. A simple microfiber mop with a little water will do just fine.
  7. Plants – One of the best ways to fight airborne toxins and purify the air is to add houseplants. There are several low-maintenance plants that are ideal for removing certain toxins including formaldehyde, benzene, and other common air pollutants. Aloe vera, spider plants, golden pathos, Boston ferns, snake plants, and floral mums are just a few of the options. A quick trip to your local nursery will reveal dozens of suitable pants that can help with your indoor air quality. 15 Houseplants for Improving Indoor Air Quality

Remember to watch the humidity inside your home, which should be no more than 30% – 50% for keeping allergens under control. If you’d like help maintaining a healthy indoor air quality, Service Legends has a variety of services that we can implement. Call us at 515-657-6634 and we’ll set up a service call today!

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