The list of possible indoor air pollutants may seem endless, but the cures are not. Dr. Energy Saver recommends a four-prong approach to ensuring healthy indoor air quality: dry up excess moisture, ventilate, clean the air, and get super sanitary.
First, stop leaks!
Whether they’re in the basement or roof, from poorly flashed windows or leaky plumbing fixtures, excess water nurtures mold and bacteria. It almost surely will cause damage to your house, too. Many homeowners do not realize that much of the air they breathe enters the house from the basement or crawl space, so fixing water or moisture problems there is a top priority.
De-humidification is often part of any strategy for reducing high moisture levels in a home. Basement waterproofing and crawlspace encapsulation are other effective ways to limit moisture from entering your living space.
Let your house breathe
Proper home ventilation, the second tactic for improving indoor air quality, helps in two ways. It introduces clean, fresh air while expelling pollutant-laden air — and helps prevent excess moisture build-up. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently revised its ventilation standard to provide a minimum of 15 cfm of outdoor air per person. There are various ventilation strategies to achieve this, including kitchen and bathroom vents, energy recovery ventilation systems, and passive and active attic ventilation. The latter may not seem like it belongs in this list because it’s separate from a home’s living space but it’s important. Attic vents (ridge, soffit, gable, etc.) is often where much of the polluted, moist air in a home is expelled.
Clear the air
Preventing small particles from drifting around in the air that fills your home requires a lot more work than remembering to replace your furnace air filter on a regular basis. While filters are important, they don’t do a lot to improve the quality of air in your home because many of the offending particles never make it to a return duct.
Air cleaners are one good solution, especially if you have a family member with a respiratory disease. Managing the air that enters your home through windows, especially on high-pollen count days, is important, too. So are your policies on pets, smoking, storing cleaners and other household chemicals, like paints and solvents. Air conditioners, especially central units that permit adequate filtration and minimize air leakage, are also helpful. Choosing low- or no-VOC products and green cleaning products whenever possible is another sensible approach.
Clean your home’s surfaces
Cleaning is not anyone’s favorite subject, but it’s an important one if you want to keep the air you breathe and surfaces you touch clean. Kitchen countertops, cutting boards, sponges and scouring pads, bathroom floors and walls, joints around tubs, and gaskets around refrigerators and dishwashers are all breeding grounds for bacteria, mold and mildew. They should be kept clean. Otherwise mold spores can become airborne and bacteria can get on the food you eat.
Adopting a shoes-off policy in the house is another good way to ensure a clean and healthy environment. Shoes have been known to track everything from pesticides to animal feces into the home. Speaking of which, be sure to use a product that will kill bacteria when cleaning up after pet accidents. A sprayer screwed onto a bottle of hydrogen peroxide works well. Let the HO do its job for several minutes so it can kill the bacteria. Despite the joy pets bring, they are a Trojan horse when it comes to pollutant invasions. Consider turning a bedroom into a pollution-free sanctuary by banning animals, installing an air cleaner, and eliminating furnishings, such as carpeting and drapes, that harbor dust.