Studies have shown that in recent years, many people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. With the reality that indoor air could be up to five times more polluted than the outside, it is probably worth having your home air quality tested.
Why Indoor Air Quality Can Be More Polluted Than Outside
When you are outside, the air is constantly moving. While the quality of the air outside is a major concern, the quality of the air you breathe inside is often overlooked. This is a mistake since the air you breathe inside is not moving anywhere as much as outside since it has nowhere to go. This means that you are recycling and recirculating primarily the same air. This can be problematic when the quality of indoor air is compromised by such factors as odors, humidity, chemicals, and outdoor air particles that wind up getting trapped inside a building. Factors such as mold, secondhand smoke, lead-based paints, and high CO2 levels can all have a significant impact on the quality of air you breathe indoors. This can contribute to unhealthy and dangerous living conditions.
In recent years, buildings have been made more airtight in order to make them more energy-efficient. As much as having buildings be more airtight contributes to energy efficiency, it also makes it more difficult for contaminated air to make its way outside.
What You Can Do to Test the Air in Your Home
If you are concerned about the quality of the air in your home, there are many things that you can do to test it for a variety of contaminants.
Get an Indoor Air Quality Monitor
An indoor air quality monitor is an always-on device that constantly tests the pollution levels inside your home. Just what they will test for can vary by device, but all of them will at least test for humidity, chemical pollutants, and particulate matter. Some varieties will also test for things like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and formaldehyde levels.
Many models of this type of device tell you values and readings in real-time via a display panel. Others show overall indoor air quality via an indicator light and then show you detailed readings through a phone app. The bulk of these devices are smart-home enabled, which allows you to have them pair with your thermostat, allowing for combined control of your indoor air quality and energy usage.
Testing for Mold
An indoor air quality monitor will not be able to check for mold. Most hardware stores carry in-home mold tests that use a petri dish and a substance that creates mold growth inside of it. You leave the petri dish out for the amount of time specified on the packaging, cover it, and let it incubate and see if mold grows.
Professionals are critical of these tests because they are testing for something that is for sure already there. Mold spores exist pretty much anywhere we go. The thing to know is if the number of mold spores in your home is excessive. A professional makes this determination by comparing the concentration of mold spores floating outside to that floating around in your home.
You should have a professional run a mold inspection for you if any of the following situations apply to you:
- Increased allergy symptoms with no clear explanation
- Seeing something that might be mold
- Musty odor but no visible mold
- Plumbing leaks or water issues
- Need air tested after mold removal
- Real estate transaction requiring the air be checked for mold normalization
- Landlord or tenant needs evidence of a mold issue
- General assessment of indoor air quality desired
After a professional mold test is performed, the technician will also likely determine where the source of the mold resides.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
The bulk of most indoor air quality issues have adverse effects on your health over the long term. This is not the case in the presence of carbon monoxide. Too much exposure to carbon monoxide for even a short amount of time can have major effects on your health and even cause death.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless byproduct of fuel combustion. If you have appliances such as gas furnaces, gas stoves, or gas dryers, you are at risk of there potentially being an excess of carbon dioxide in your home, now or in the future. Other potential sources of carbon monoxide include fireplaces and gas water heaters. Even if you already have an indoor air quality monitor, it might not capture carbon monoxide levels in every area of your home. They also don’t alert you to the presence of a dangerous level of carbon monoxide in the middle of the night as surefire as a blaring carbon monoxide alarm will. Not only are these devices helpful for checking for the presence of carbon monoxide in the air, but they also save lives.
Testing for Radon
Like carbon monoxide, radon is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It is also undetectable without a detection device that is specifically built for the purpose of identifying its presence. It does not asphyxiate you in the way that carbon monoxide does, but it is responsible for long-term harm. It has been determined that radon exposure is attributable to 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year.
Radon gets into your home through areas around pipes, cracks in floors, the foundation, or walls. Since radon gas forms when natural uranium deposits in soil break down, it enters your home at its lowest levels, such as in basements.
Radon tests can be purchased online or in home improvement stores. You take the test object to the highest-risk area of your home and let it sit for the duration recommended on the packaging. To maximize how effective the test is, you will want to close all the windows and doors near the test area. Once the test period is done, you send the test object to the manufacturer for analysis. If the lab results show a positive test result for the presence of radon, you will want to bring in a professional.
A Professional Can Help You Test Your Indoor Air Quality
If you live in Wheat Ridge, CO, or the surrounding area and want to have a professional test your indoor air quality for all these potential issues at once, we are here to help. We can analyze the air thoroughly using our advanced equipment, providing you with detailed reports that will reveal just which contaminants and pollutants are compromising the quality of your indoor air. From there, we can help you determine the indoor air quality systems you will need. We specialize in indoor air quality and can offer everything from air purifiers to UV lights, depending on what our testing uncovers. Our team of specialists will help you find the right long-term solution that works best for you and your loved ones.
Mighty Pine Heating & Air is a small, family-owned-and-operated full-service HVAC company. It is our priority to give our customers honest, affordable, and reliable service when it comes to indoor air quality or any heating and cooling needs. If you are ready to have your indoor air tested as a first step towards improving your and your family’s quality of life, give us a call today.