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How Indoor Pollutants can Build Up in Your Home’s HVAC

Rod Johnson Air Cooling and Air Conditioning, Heating and Furnaces

The air quality in your home is one of the single most important aspects of you and your family’s health and well-being. Consequently, one of the most important features of any home’s air conditioning and heating system is not just to create a comfortable temperature, but to clean and filter the air of both internal and external hazards.

Common major pollutants like highways and power plants can cause significant buildup in the HVAC systems of surrounding property to pollutants, and recent studies have suggested that homes within only 2,000 to 6,000 feet of a highway are at risk for notable air pollution feedback.

But even if you don’t live near the 5 or a smoking stack power plant, new research is showing that even household items and cleaning solutions can be causing nearly seven times as much in-home pollution as a common highway vehicle’s emissions. The LA TImes writes:

“[Scientists] soon noticed that levels of certain [household] VOCs, such as ethanol and acetone, were far too high to be explained by vehicle emissions alone.”

The article details how auto manufacturing has been regulated to produce much cleaner cars, but many household products have not had the same transformation, leaving homeowners with questions about the products they use and their potential effects, and how they can prevent it.

Let’s take a look at some of the items in your home that could be causing significant pollution, and the methods you can employ to keep your home’s air as clean and healthy as possible.

Possible Everyday Household Air Contaminants

Drying paint

When paint dries, it releases certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can react with the air around it and create pollutants within the immediate area. Any home that’s recently been painted, or has a permanent craft room or painting area in a bonus room, could be at risk of long term buildup from different paint compounds.

Industrial-strength glues

While average household glues has been altered in recent decades to prevent school kids and pets alike from accidentally ingesting anything toxic, there are plenty of stronger industrial adhesives and common glues that can be dangerous if used indoors without proper professional ventilation equipment. Many glues release VOCs especially while drying.

Just about anything fragrant

“Fragrances added to many cleaners, most notably laundry detergents and fabric softeners, may cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headache, sneezing, and watery eyes in sensitive individuals or allergy and asthma sufferers. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic.”

This quote from OrganicConsumers.org isn’t the most reassuring for your home’s air quality. If you use a lot of fragrant products in your home, you may want to consider having your HVAC cleaned every few months.

How to Combat Indoor Air Pollution from Household Items

Regular HVAC maintenance

Quarterly or annual checkups from a professional AC service can benefit your home in several ways. First, regular cleaning will allow your system to operate more efficiently, which will make the system as a whole last longer — it’s cheaper to pay a few hundred dollars of maintenance rather than $5,000 to replace everything. Secondly, a better-running system is a money-saving system, and you’ll notice a smaller power bill. Thirdly, a cleaner system will vastly increase the air quality in your home.

Replacing an AC fan

An aging and slowing fan in your AC unit will significantly decrease its ability to recycle the air around your living space, and the system will inevitably have to work much harder for the desired effect. A replaced or cleaned AC fan will noticeably improve your home’s atmosphere, as warm air will be less stagnant and stale.

Plugging refrigerant leaks

Leaking refrigerant from your AC unit will not only slow down the function of your home’s HVAC, but can itself release chemicals into the surrounding environment. Refrigerant, often a lethal substance known as Freon, is toxic and any potential leak should be cleaned and plugged immediately. A humming or poorly-running HVAC system is a common symptom.

For information on routine HVAC maintenance, call or contact us today.