The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Indoor Air Quality


Year after year, we find different ways to make our homes healthier places to live, but often overlook one major question—how healthy is the air I’m breathing? Since the pandemic, more people spend time in their homes than ever, especially considering the massive remote work reform that has become a new normal, which means indoor air quality has never been so important. Let’s take a moment to review some steps to take, and avoid, to improve home air quality.

DO Schedule a Duct Cleaning and Air Filter Evaluation

Your home’s HVAC system is the heart of all air circulation throughout the house, but this means if it isn’t clean it will also act as a highway for unhealthy air particles. Over time, pollutants like dust mites, allergens, microorganisms, and more can build up in your ductwork, eventually circulating into the household air and being inhaled by the residents. Inhaling this polluted air can lead to common illness symptoms that are generally misdiagnosed. You’d be surprised at how often unmaintained ductwork leads to worsened allergies, unfulfilling sleep, and recurring headaches.

At Service Legends, we specialize in evaluating your HVAC system to determine exactly what kind of maintenance is required. Most often, homes will be in need of duct cleaning as well as other minor cleanings to start. We’ll also evaluate the condition of the central air filter, which reduces indoor air pollution but is eventually rendered ineffective. Once an evaluation is finished, our expert team members will thoroughly clean through the entire system to ensure your household is breathing the best air possible.

DON’T Ignore VOCs and Other Air Pollutants

Although your HVAC filtration system is constantly reducing indoor air pollution, it won’t always be capable of catching certain pollutants before they’re inhaled by the residents. Some examples of these dangers include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), asbestos, and wood smoke. In order to truly boost your indoor air quality, make sure to reduce or avoid these harmful factors.

VOCs are mostly comprised of human-made chemicals that are manufactured into consumer goods and building materials. Even though the EPA does regulate VOCs consumer product integration based on the purpose of the item, using products that contain VOCs indoors without proper ventilation will negatively affect air quality. Some examples of VOCs you should pay extra attention to are:

  • Hairsprays and other aerosols
  • Nail polish remover
  • Wood preservatives
  • Fuels stored in the house
  • Pesticides used in the house
  • Bleach products

There are plenty more consumer products that contain VOCs, which means it’s wise to look up any product you think could impact your air quality. Prolonged exposure to VOCs will provoke symptoms such as coughing, skin irritation, dizziness, etc., and is easily mistaken for other illnesses.

Another danger to the resident’s health and air quality is asbestos, especially in homes built before the 1980s. If your home was built before the 1980s, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with where asbestos can be found in the house. When a material containing asbestos is destroyed for remodeling purposes, it releases fragments of asbestos that can get into your lungs and cause a variety of health issues. Asbestos truly is a silent danger; being exposed doesn’t typically show immediate symptoms, but instead can lead to lung cancer or asbestosis many years later in life.

The winter months are fast approaching, so households with a wood stove option should take a moment to review the potential impact of wood smoke on their indoor air quality. If you use a wood stove to supplement your winter heating, it’s recommended to have it inspected annually to ensure it’s functioning properly and wood smoke is not leaking into the household. Wood smoke emits carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide which are both hazardous to human health. To be as safe as you can, make sure to check the batteries on any carbon monoxide and smoke detectors around the home. When checking your alarms, also make sure that the alarms are installed in the most optimal place in the home where carbon monoxide could be.

DO Keep Living Plants Around the House

A more exciting and decorative option to boost air quality is adding plants throughout the house! Plants are nature’s air purifiers because they take common pollutants and release clean oxygen back into the air. Some of the gases plants excel at removing are:

  • VOCs
  • Benzene
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Formaldehyde

So is there a right and wrong plant to add into my home? The answer can depend on how much maintenance you are willing to provide the plant and what animals live in the household.

If you’re worried about forgetting to water your plants or provide proper sunlight, maybe a stylish dragon tree will be a great fit because it can survive in low light. On the other hand, if you’re confident in your plant parent abilities, a monstera plant, otherwise known as the swiss cheese plant, could be a great and decorative fit for your home!

However, if you are a proud pet parent of a household cat, make sure you research any plants you’re interested in prior to purchasing because there are numerous plants that are toxic to cats. You should avoid bringing home common household plants like eucalyptus and lilies to preserve your furry friend’s health.

DON’T Forget to Use Vent Fans

Another major factor in helping to maintain air quality in your home is actively using ventilation in the needed rooms. The two most common rooms that need ventilation are the bathroom and kitchen but for different reasons. You may still need ventilation in other areas like the attic or basement to prevent mold, but it’s more common to use other solutions to control humidity in those areas.

For the kitchen, the largest need for ventilation sources is from the stove. When an oven is used, it can release carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides that will linger in the air without proper ventilation. As we’ve reviewed, these gases left unchecked reduce air quality and are a health risk to the residents. The most common ventilation used around ovens is a fan installed above the oven which will pull steam and gases to an outside vent. As long as the system is working properly, make a habit of turning it on anytime you’re cooking! If you don’t have an exhaust fan above the stove, don’t forget to open a window and set up a house fan to circulate the gases out.

Using ventilation in the bathroom is just as important but instead to prevent mold. Since mold grows and thrives in moist areas, the bathroom is a common place where mold issues begin. Mold releases microscopic spores into the air in order to reproduce, but inhaling those spores over a long period of time will mimic or worsen allergy symptoms like stuffiness and itchy eyes. Play it safe by always using a bathroom fan when taking a hot shower, and if you don’t have a bathroom fan, opening a window will allow a majority of the steam to escape.

DO Manage Your Homes Humidity

Finding the right balance of humidity in your home can be easily overlooked but plays a big part in managing indoor air quality. If humidity is too high, molds can grow and furniture will feel uncomfortable, but if humidity is too low, there are more direct impacts on human health such as chapped lips, increased risk of illnesses, sinus issues, etc. However, managing humidity is no easy task, but that’s where Service Legends comes to the rescue!

Our humidification solutions are integrated right into your central ventilation system which eliminates the need to manage a humidifier and dehumidifier in multiple rooms. Don’t stress over the humidity roller coaster of the changing seasons and speak with one of our experienced technicians today!

Breathe Better

While we try to keep ourselves healthy with tangible things like food and exercise, it’s important to remember how the air we breathe impacts our health as well. Since we spend so much time at home throughout our lives, it’s important to make sure your home is healthy to you. Do your household a favor and have your ducts cleaned by the Service Legends indoor air quality specialists.

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