There’s perhaps nothing more important than the air we breathe. Yet, for all we do to help reduce the air pollution and contaminants outside, we don’t always spend a lot of time looking at and improving the air quality inside our homes. Indoor air pollution can be just as much a scourge as the kind you find outdoors. To find out what causes indoor air pollution and how it can affect your health, make sure to read our FAQ guide below.
Why is Indoor Air Quality in my Home Important?
Today, indoor air quality is a major component of any building’s design. Modern buildings are built to keep the inside shielded from pollutants, contaminants, and microorganisms that the air carries and can bring inside through open windows, cracks in the facade, or ducts.
However, just because your home may be designed to keep the outdoors at bay, it doesn’t mean that indoor air pollution is completely different than outdoor air pollution. In fact, if you toss, “What is indoor air pollution?” into a search engine, you’ll likely find similar results as if you were to ask about the outdoor variety. Things like smoke, pollen, and smog all can affect the quality of the air inside your home. It is important to note, too, that, per the EPA, the concentration of pollutants can actually be two to five times higher inside your home than outside.
Indoor air pollution can also contain things more commonly found indoors, like dust, viruses, bacteria, mildew, and fungus microorganisms. As this pollution builds up, you may begin to experience health issues that get worse over time. People who constantly breathe in dust and other indoor air pollution may experience respiratory issues or allergies. Even if at first you exhibit no symptoms from the constant breathing in air pollution and contaminants, you may find that continued exposure will eventually have a major impact and worsen over time.
A buildup of dust or other particulates can not only wreak havoc on your respiratory system, but it can also impact the ability of your electronics and appliances to function correctly. Because the individual molecules of dust are small and contain moisture as well as organic material such as dead skin cells or hair, it’s fairly easy for dust to find its way inside your computer, television, or even phone, and cause potentially irreversible damage to internal circuitry.
Can My HVAC System Help the Indoor Air Quality of My Home?
The quickest answer to the above question is, “it depends.” HVAC systems are designed to improve the quality of the air inside your home, but some are more successful than others.
Take a common, ducted HVAC system, for example. This system is standard in both residences and businesses and is identified by the ductwork needed to push warm or cold air through a vent and into the room or space where it’s needed.
However, if the ductwork itself contains pollutants or contaminants, such as dust or mold, then the air that’s pushed through these ducts will bring those pollutants or contaminants with it, causing it to end up in your kitchen, living room, bedroom, or wherever vents are located. So, even if the HVAC system is protecting you from outdoor pollution, it can help distribute indoor pollution throughout your home.
Further, because ducts are designed to be out of sight, it’s very easy to forget or skip your regular maintenance cycles, which can cause dust, dirt, mold, and allergens to flourish inside the ductwork. Skipping regular maintenance can also mean that a leak in the ductwork goes unidentified, meaning the contaminants may be escaping into rooms without vents and exacerbating your indoor pollution issues.
Ductless heat pump systems, sometimes called mini-split systems, however, can eliminate those issues through a system that’s more efficient, without using ductwork. These systems are referred to as either “ductless” or “mini-split” because both terms describe how this system functions. Mini-split refers to the main components of the system, one of which is outside and pulls in the heat of the outdoor air and transfers it indoors to the second component, the air handler, inside that then warms the air and forces it directly into the room. With the use of refrigerants to transfer warmth either inside in colder months or outdoors in warmer months, the mini-split system is constantly filtering the air inside your home.
Since this system transfers warmth and not air, there is no need for actual ductwork to bring the air from room to room. The lack of ducts means there are no built-up deposits of dirt, dust, or mold that the air is rushing through and bringing from room to room. Since there are no ducts, there’s no chance of air, especially contaminated air, of leaking through dents or holes in the ductwork, and further reducing the air quality of your home.
Ductless systems are also much easier to care for and maintain. Instead of hiring someone to open up ducts and hope they can remove any allergens or contaminants, for a ductless system, you typically only need to pop off the air filter from the air handler component and clean with a small hand vacuum.
Solutions for Indoor Air Quality
The Heat Pump Store has partnered with RGF to bring you premium air purification. There are four major products we provide to solve any indoor space.
The RGF Guardian Air Plug-in air purification is a versatile, yet effective system. This device plugs into any wall outlet and purifies up to 800 square feet. It has been shown to reduce airborne bacteria and mold in the 90+ percentile. It also reduces viruses, smoke, mold, chemical odors, fungi, bacteria, and odors. It is the perfect solution for a single room.
The RGF mini-split PHI cell mounts to your ductless system. Using germicidal UV light rays, coupled with photohydroionization advanced oxidation for exceptional air purification in larger zones. It reduces bacteria, viruses, smoke, mold, odors, and air pollutants. The PHI cell has shown a 99% reduction in harmful microorganisms in partial lab tests.
The RGF Clear Sky Ion Generator is mounted on your ductless system and helps eliminate particulates such as mold spores, pollen, dust, and smoke. Airborne particles receive an electronic charge which causes them to stick together, making them easier to trap and be collected by your system’s filter.
Have a traditional ducted system? The RGF Reme Halo provides whole-home air purification. It kills up to 99% of bacteria, mold and viruses. Zinc ions emitted by the system kill 99% of viruses on surfaces. It also reduces pollen, mold spores, dander, and dust.
How Is Your Health Affected By Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality can be a major factor in your quality of life. Americans typically spend around 90 percent of their life inside, meaning it’s especially important to ensure that the air inside is free of contaminants, pollutants, and allergens. Yet, as noted above, indoor air can have two to five times the concentration of pollutants as outdoor air.
Those most likely to be affected by indoor air pollution are also those most likely to spend even more time indoors than the average American. This population includes those already suffering from respiratory illness, those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, and people at either end of the age spectrum. Indoor air quality is especially important if you or members of your family fall into any of those categories.
No matter your risk level, the longer you are exposed to indoor air pollution, the more likely you are to experience the health issues associated with exposure:
Eye, nose, and throat irritation
Some of these health issues are connected to specific pollutants. For instance, radon, a naturally occurring gas that’s both invisible and odorless, is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Other health issues, such as asthma attacks or eye, nose, and throat irritation, can be caused by several common air pollutants, such as dander, dust mites, or mold.
If you’re concerned about the quality of air inside your home, reach out to The Heat Pump Store today. Our experience, knowledge, and customer focus allow us to answer any questions you may have about your home’s air quality and how a ductless heat pump system can help. Contact us today by calling 877-509-2961, filling out our online form, or visiting one of our showrooms in Eugene, Portland, or Salem. You’re only one phone call away from an efficient, air quality-improving system.
Image Credit: Getty Images / fizkes