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Choices for Your Home: Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

Did you know that the ideal indoor humidity level is between 30% and 50%? Not only does the amount of moisture in the air affect the temperature, but when the air is too dry or too moist, you’re likely to feel uncomfortable or have health issues. Your home can also sustain damage when the humidity isn’t at the right level. 

Humidifiers and dehumidifiers help you maintain the ideal indoor air humidity level. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and dehumidifiers remove it. Depending on the season and the conditions inside your San Diego area home, you may need one or both of these devices. 

The Basics of Humidifiers 

As mentioned, humidifiers add moisture to the air. If the relative humidity drops below 30%, you might notice issues like dry and itchy skin, dry nasal passages, and excess static electricity. Over time, dry air can cause damage to your home, too, like warped and cracked floors and furniture, doors and windows that warp and stick, and peeling or cracking paint. 

It’s possible to temporarily increase moisture by boiling water, taking a shower, or watering house plants, but a humidifier is a more effective method. The devices release moisture in the air via water vapor, which can either be cool or warm. Cool mist humidifiers evaporate moisture into the air via a wick, while a warm mist device works by boiling water and releasing steam. 

You can use a small, portable unit to humidify a small space, like a bedroom, or invest in a whole-house humidifier that hydrates every room as part of the heating and cooling system. Whole-house humidifiers and dehumidifiers require less upkeep and automatically adjust based on the humidity level, so your home remains consistent and comfortable. 

The Basics of Dehumidifiers 

You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” when referring to a sticky, miserable day. A dehumidifier helps solve that issue by removing excess moisture from the air. This not only helps it feel cooler, but it also helps prevent mold growth and health issues related to allergens and other contaminants, water damage inside your home, and issues like sticking doors, musty odors, and damage to paint and wallpaper. 

A dehumidifier pulls in air and cools it, which reduces its ability to hold moisture. The extra moisture forms condensation on the cooling coils and drips into a drain pan. Like humidifiers, you can opt for portable units or a whole-house dehumidifier that works with the HVAC system.

Do I Need a Humidifier or Dehumidifier?

If the humidity level in your home is typically much higher or lower than 50%, humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help. In San Diego, where the summers tend to be hot and dry and the winters are cooler and wetter, you might find that you need both humidifiers and dehumidifiers to keep your home comfortable year-round.          

If you aren’t sure which direction to go, Bob Jensen can help. Our experienced technicians can evaluate the indoor air humidity level and install the perfect whole-home unit to ensure your family stays comfortable and eliminates the hassles of high or low humidity. Just call us today to learn more.

Indoor Air Quality, Filtration and Add-ons

Quicklinks to other articles in this series:

What Are Filtration and Indoor Air Quality?

The filtration in your comfort system refers to the air filter. Filters have porous membranes to trap pollutants and particulate matter, such as pet dander, mold, smoke, dust, and bacteria.

Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within a building or structure; poor IAQ is closely related to health effects. Low indoor air quality has been strongly connected with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nasal irritation, and effecting asthma.

Where Is the Air Filter Located?

Air Filtration

Usually, the air filter will be located in the return duct. Many return ducts are placed in attics, basements, crawlspaces, or garages. In some commercial spaces, they might be on a wall, on the ceiling, or in a utility closet. Some HVAC systems have return ducts in every room, which means you might find multiple air filters.

How Does the Filter Work?

When an HVAC system works properly, it filters out any harmful pollutants from the outdoor air. Proper filtration requires consistent maintenance and check-ups. On the contrary, lack of maintenance leads to pollutants like mold, mildew and bacteria becoming trapped in ducting and other components.

What Makes Filtration and Indoor Air Quality Important?

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests that indoor air can be, at a minimum, anywhere from 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. And indoor air quality is a top-5 environmental threat to public health. Furthermore, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that half of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by low IAQ. Illnesses related to poor IAQ cost the U.S. economy $168 billion every year.

Beyond your use of proper filtration, a professional can help you improve indoor air quality by moving returns or ductwork. Humidity control is also essential; annual maintenance should include inspecting drain lines for sediment and other clogs that promote the growth of mold and mildew.

Different Types of Filters and Add-Ons

Fiberglass filters are disposable and inexpensive. They protect your HVAC system, but they don’t offer the best filtration available. Some low-end filters are washable and reusable, but the installation of a still-damp filter can lead to mold and mildew. Pleated filters are an affordable option that increase filtration efficiency, and they have the added bonus of quieting fan noise.

The best filters are High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which force air through a very fine mesh. While HEPA filters trap most airborne particulate matter, due to size and airflow restrictions, they can require modifications from an HVAC professional.

Add-ons to consider include smart thermostats, which allow you to control your entire system with the push of a button via your mobile device. There are also zoning systems, which use dampers to cool or heat individual rooms only when they are needed.

UV Light Add-on

Ventilators remove bad air and pull fresh air into a home at the same time. They also use heat-exchange technology to keep your home from losing its cooling or heating during this process. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are classic methods to boost the fresh feeling of a home or office. Your personal comfort isn’t the only benefit of a humidifier or dehumidifier—your wooden products and electronics will benefit as well.

Maintenance and Repairs

Cleaning or replacing an HVAC filter is one of the most important tasks any homeowner or business owner can perform to keep an HVAC system running efficiently; luckily, it’s also quite easy and one that most people can perform themselves.

Be sure you purchase an air filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating appropriate for your system; otherwise, you risk air leakage, increased energy use, or even a frozen coil. Filters with MERV ratings between 1 and 4 capture large debris, like pet hair, but they do not greatly improve indoor air quality. Those with MERV ratings between 5 and 12 capture mold spores, pollen, auto emission, and other smaller particles. Filters with MERV ratings 13 or greater, such as HEPA filters, trap cigarette smoke and most bacteria.

Consistent, proactive maintenance plans from HVAC professionals include inspection and cleaning of ducting, evaporator coils, lines, condenser coils, and vents, all of which promote high indoor air quality. You can further improve IAQ by installing ultraviolet lights that destroy mold, bacteria, and viruses. New products are released to the market every year designed to monitor and improve your indoor air quality.

Are Candles Diminishing Your Indoor Air Quality?

At Bob Jenson, we’re always on the lookout for ways to improve indoor air quality and the sneaky things that can reduce the air quality within our home. We’ve recommended natural air fresheners before, but we also realize that many households burn and use candles on a regular basis.

Some people enjoy the ambiance and soft glow of candlelight, while others love the variety of scents available on the market today. However you decide to use or burn candles, it’s important to consider the effects on indoor air quality that may be difficult to detect with the naked eye.

How Candles are Produced

The different production methods for candles contribute greatly to their possible negative effects on indoor air quality. Many consumer candles are made with paraffin wax, which is a petroleum waste product that must be “deodorized and chemically bleached” before it becomes wax.

The problem with this process is that when paraffin burns, it releases toxins similar to those found in burning diesel fuel. Not exactly what you want in your home! Some candle wicks are also produced using lead, which has a detrimental effect as the candle continues to burn over time.

Harmful Effects

There are many potential side effects that come with using candles. If you love candles, you don’t have to panic or take drastic action—but you should remain educated on the ways that candles can affect the quality of the air you and your family breathe on a daily basis.

Toxic Fumes

As noted above, paraffin wax candles produce certain toxins known as carcinogens. Carcinogenic substances carry a potential risk for developing diseases like cancer and should thus be reduced or controlled whenever possible. Candles may give off known carcinogens like toluene, acetone, and benzene, which have been documented to cause or worsen asthma and skin conditions.

Along the same lines, the scents produced by candles are pleasant but artificial. Since they are created through synthetic chemical processes, burning them can produce harmful organic compounds known as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. Many underlying respiratory conditions can stem from VOC sources in the home.

Cored Wicks

Some candle producers use metal materials to keep wicks upright while burning. Although practical, these metal centers often contain hidden sources of lead. When burned, this creates the risk for lead poisoning, particularly in homes with small children. Any candle that contains wicks with wire or metal centers should be replaced immediately.

Soot and Ash

Soot is a black smoke that may create stains on walls, fabrics, and clothing. This substance occurs when candles don’t burn completely, which happens more often with cheaply made candles. Although air particles from soot and ash are microscopic, they can still enter an individual’s lungs and respiratory system, creating various health problems down the road.

Best Practices for Burning

Most of us don’t think twice before lighting a favorite candle, but did you know that there are right and wrong ways to enjoy them? Carefully consider where and for how long you leave candles burning. Many candles provide recommendations on the packaging as to how many hours you should burn them at one time.

Paying attention to best practices when you burn candles is good for both air and fire safety. Burn candles in areas of your home that are well-ventilated and open and place lit candles away from drafty spots, since doing so can cut down on the amount of pollution carried through the air.

Better Alternatives

If you simply love to burn candles in your home and don’t want to swear off them entirely, there are a few alternatives that can help minimize or eliminate the risks involved.

  • Purchase candles that are made from soy or beeswax, as opposed to cheaper materials like paraffin wax. The slightly higher price-tag is worth the reduced health risk!
  • Choose candles that contain only one wick, and ensure that it is cut down to the appropriate size. Wicks should be trimmed to ¼ of an inch before burning.
  • Make the switch to essential oils in a diffuser instead of burning candles. This creates a similar aroma without the same risks to air quality.

Evaluate Your Air Quality

The air quality in your home is not something that you can or should take lightly. Consider the long-term effects of anything you bring into your home, and make sure to stay up to date on best practices and health risks or benefits.

If you’d like an evaluation of your home’s indoor air quality, contact Bob Jenson Air Conditioning and Heating for an assessment or for other HVAC services.

4 Home Decorating Tips for Better Air Quality

Home Decorating for Health?

As a homeowner, you want your home to be a relaxing, comfortable environment for you and your loved ones to enjoy. We often think of interior decorating and home decor selections as a way to achieve those goals. But did you know that many of the decisions you make when it comes to your home can also enhance — or compromise — your health?

Everything from the type of decor you choose to liven up your rooms to the way you manage your cleaning routine can affect the quality of air in your home. Today we’ll be exploring some of the choices you can make to support improved air quality.

Here are five ways to ensure your house supports not only your desired aesthetic but your health, too:

1. Go Green

First, can you name a natural detoxifier that will purify air while also being nice to look at? If you guessed “plants,” you are absolutely correct. Studies done by NASA revealed that plants can filter harmful toxins that cause negative health effects like headaches and nausea.

Some plants are more effective at improving air quality than others. For instance, the spider plant (chlorophytum) removes approximately 90% of chemicals from the air, according to the aforementioned NASA study. Alternatively, the peace lily (staphiphyllum) is easy to care for, and it can reduce the humidity in your rooms — perfect for getting rid of dry noses.

NASA recommends one plant for every 100 square feet of real estate. To keep your plants thriving, be sure you care for them properly. Soil must be kept free from sugars and exposure to liquids other than water; this will help eliminate flies. Vegetated plants with white speckled leaves require plenty of light. Each plant comes with its own care instructions, and you should do your best to follow them.

2. Upgrade to a “Smart” Thermostat

Want a cutting-edge, modern look for your home? A smart thermostat brings a unique edge to your décor. These systems are sleekly designed, and they provide plenty of helpful information about your home’s humidity and air quality.

Smart thermostats make life more convenient by allowing you to adjust your heating and cooling from your smartphone. What’s more, the system can learn from your typical behavior patterns and turn systems off and on as it predicts you’ll need them. Lastly, smart thermostats provide handy data about your AC filter status, so you’ll never miss a routine change again.

3. Rethink the Ordinary

A clean home is a standard most of us try to meet — few things offer more peace of mind than a spotless, dust-free abode. There are benefits beyond that, though. For example, a regular dusting schedule can eliminate dust and irritants from the air, thus protecting your lungs, reducing your risk of allergies, and helping respiratory issues like asthma.

Here are some suggestions for transforming your home in ways you may have overlooked:

  • Get rid of clutter. A simple, minimalist look for your home can be a great way to draw attention to visual focal points, like a stunning fireplace or a family portrait on the wall. What’s more, less clutter means fewer places for dust to gather.
  • Replace curtains with blinds. Although blinds require regular cleaning just like curtains do, soft furnishings can be a serious magnet for dust. Switching to dust-resistant shades and cleaning them regularly with a damp cloth will boost your air quality in no time.
  • Swap carpets for hardwood floor or laminate. Eliminating carpets might seem like a big step, but hardwood floors are both stylish and much easier to clean. Whereas your carpeted floors can cling to dust even after a vacuum, your hardwood floors will be clean with just a quick mopping.

Always remember to replace your furnace and air conditioning filters regularly as part of your monthly routine. Filters prevent dust from blowing throughout the home and undoing all your hard work.

4. Opt for Natural Scents

Cans of air freshener and bulky plug-in devices can diminish the impact of your interior décor efforts. What’s more, many of these devices are filled with chemicals and VOCs that damage air quality. It may take some creativity, but you can absolutely enjoy an amazing-smelling home without compromising on air quality.

Try making a DIY air freshener with a diffuser and some essential oils, or add bunches of fresh herbs or flowers around the house. Also, consider investing in an up-to-date air purifier. The latest models are sleek and attractive — just like your smart thermostat! — and they’ll help eliminate odors, dust, and other pollutants.

Improving Home Style and Air Quality

Creating a beautiful home for yourself and your family isn’t just about choosing the right paint colors and color schemes. For a happier and healthier life, it pays to implement an interior design strategy that will provide a literal breath of fresh air.

Just remember that the tips above are meant as an enhancement to a proper HVAC strategy, as using the right heating and cooling system has the strongest, long-lasting impact on the way air circulates around your home. Reach out to Bob Jenson for advice on how to achieve the best indoor air quality possible.

The Case for Mixing Plants and Business

Let Nature Into Your Workplace

Looking for a natural way to improve your office environment? Incorporating plants within your office space could provide more than just aesthetic rewards. Business leaders around the world are jumping on the green bandwagon when it comes to bringing plants into their workspaces, and for good reason — we’re learning they can improve everything from air quality to staff productivity.

It seems as though the benefits operate in a reciprocal, symbiotic fashion, with one benefit leading to another, which in turn builds on the first one. Take cleaner air: It leads to healthier employees who are motivated to be more productive — which also contributes to overall happiness, wellness, and health in the office.

Here are the benefits supporting the case for mixing plants and business:

Cleaner Air

The primary reason plants are trending in offices lately is due to their air-purifying qualities. Offices are full of people, supplies, and chemicals (think: benzene from glue and paint and ammonia from cleaners), and relatively closed off to fresh air. Many indoor offices have worse air quality than that of the outdoors, and it’s making people sick. This is called Sick-Building-Syndrome (SBS).

Fortunately, it seems as though introducing plants into these environments is an efficient way of cleaning the air. Certain plants can absorb chemicals, pollutants, and carbon dioxide, and release oxygen in return. The NASA Clean Air Study in 1989 proved this and outlined some specific plants that are particularly effective.

It turns out many common, affordable, and easy-to-maintain varieties are some of the best options: peace lilies, mother in law’s tongue (also called snake plant), spider plants, and devil’s ivy are some of the most popular choices. Read more about their properties here.

Healthier Staff

While this is a relatively new area being researched, the available evidence does seem to point to cleaner air resulting in healthier staff members. In fact, studies have shown that indoor plants reduce a range of health issues including fatigue, lack of focus, and overall stress, while making us feel more carefree and less sensitive to negative stimuli.

An excellent case study of plants’ benefits involves Kamal Meattle, the plant-loving CEO of the Paharpur Business Centre in New Delhi. Meattle has over 1200 plants in and on his company’s building — not to mention 2000 more next door! There have been multiple studies based on Meattle’s employees; one even showed nonsmokers working in the building experienced significantly fewer health challenges compared to nonsmokers elsewhere in the area.

Happier Employees

Not only do plants functionally clean the air in office environments, but they also visually brighten the space and make people feel good. Introducing plants into your workspace has the power to actually improve employee satisfaction. One working theory posits that having plants and natural elements around makes people happier in general because we are biologically wired to be attuned to nature. Plants seem to boost creativity and can also work to absorb loud noises, therefore removing distractions and increasing focus.

More Productive Teams

While clean air and healthy, happy employees should be important to business owners, there are solid bottom-line benefits to bringing plants into the office, too. For example, Meattle has seen higher productivity and fewer sick days since introducing plants in his workspace. Some research shows that when employees can see plants from their desk, productivity rises as much as 15%! Even better? Creativity and innovation are boosted at a similar rate.

If you’re encouraged by all this news but don’t know where to start, try not to feel overwhelmed. The evidence shows that even just a couple of visible plants are an excellent place to start. Have fun decorating, and enjoy your new leafy friends!

For the latest in air quality and safety, visit the Bob Jenson blog. Since the late 1970s, we’ve been a trusted heating and air conditioning services provider in the San Diego area. We’d love to hear more about your needs or concerns and develop a plan that works for your home or office today.

Why Is It Important to Study Air Quality?

How Air Quality Affects Health

Whether you live in an urban loft in Europe or a rural farmhouse in Kansas, there’s one thing we all have in common: We need air to breathe. In a perfect world, we’d all like to breathe uncontaminated air, but this can be harder to accomplish than you think. You might imagine if you avoid the smoggy skies of downtown neighborhoods or congested freeways, you’re largely safe from poor quality air, but the biggest concern to most people’s health is actually indoor air quality.

Sadly, it’s true: Poor indoor air quality has the potential to do more harm to your health than car exhaust ever could. Because most people now spend the majority of their lives indoors, it’s important to study indoor air quality and figure out how to purify the air we’re breathing in our homes. Let’s take a closer look at why indoor air quality matters and what you can do to protect yourself and your home.

Indoor air pollutants come from common sources like carpet fibers, paint, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in fabric dyes. A combination of moisture and heat can also lead to hidden mold, a dangerous pollutant. Short of living in a bubble, there’s no way we can avoid all of these contaminants. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to mitigate the serious effects of poor indoor air quality, which can lead to sickness and even death. In 2016, 2.6 million people died around the world from conditions related to poor indoor air quality, with the most common illnesses being pneumonia, stroke, and lung cancer.

According to the EPA, exposure to indoor air pollution can lead to immediate health effects, but related symptoms may not show up for years. Examples of immediate symptoms to pollutant exposure can include headaches, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes and throat. Long-term effects may include respiratory and cardiovascular diseases or cancer.

Air Quality Studies

There a couple key studies relating to indoor air quality, but many hold the view that there are huge gaps in knowledge in this area. While institutions such as the World Health Organization track the number of worldwide deaths from air pollution, other committees and universities have researched how indoor air quality affects the human body and recommended policy changes to improve conditions. Two of the biggest research endeavors are:

THADE: The EU-funded “Towards Healthy AIr Dwellings in Europe” (THADE) project evaluated data on the health effects of air pollution in dwellings and cost-effective ways to improve conditions. They then created a report summarizing their findings and policy recommendations in Europe.
PINCHE: The PINCHE project looked at air pollution threats in children’s environments and recommended further research on indoor air and related contaminants.

The Future of Air Quality

So, what does the future of indoor air quality look like? During the summer of 2018, HOMEchem, the largest indoor air quality study in the United States, is taking place at The University of Texas at Austin. HOMEchem brings together research teams from 15 universities who will carefully assess the types of contaminants that exist and attempt to determine which conditions promote the most contaminants.

On top of research, many products are hitting the market that will help homeowners monitor their air quality and make improvements. The Foobot, for instance, is a monitor that constantly checks a building’s air for pollution and alerts you when the air quality is reaching a dangerous point. Air filters with a high MERV rating also protect you against a lot of airborne germs and pollution.

Are you worried about the indoor air quality in your home or business? Contact Bob Jenson today to get an evaluation of your HVAC system. A duct cleaning and filter change are a good place to start when it comes to improving the air quality in the places you breathe most.

What to look for in an Indoor Air Quality Monitor

What Is an IAQ Monitor?

Monitoring indoor air quality is important for comfort and health reasons, both at home and in the workplace. People spend over 90% of their time indoors, repeatedly breathing the same recycled air, so keeping that air as clean as possible is in everyone’s best interest. Pollutants like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and more can negatively impact the quality of indoor air and even lead to disease when not properly managed.

One way to keep tabs on the quality of the indoor air in your home or workplace is by installing an indoor air quality, or IAQ, monitor.

IAQ monitors are consumer-friendly devices manufactured by a variety of brands, and typically cost between $150 and $250. They are usually easy to set up and can be freely moved around the home or workplace to monitor air quality. Base models of IAQ monitors measure two things:

  • PM2.5, which refers to particulate matter 2.5 microns and below. These are pieces of matter small enough to inhale and pass through our lungs to the bloodstream.
  • VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. These are usually chemicals that you can smell, like cleaning products.

Some IAQ monitors provide additional reporting on items like temperature and humidity, carbon monoxide levels, carbon dioxide levels, and more. The more sensitive the sensors, the higher the price of the IAQ monitor.

The idea is that owners of IAQ monitors can use the information they receive to make adjustments in their homes or workplaces to improve indoor air quality. Pairing an indoor air quality monitor with an efficient air conditioning unit and filters that are regularly changed can vastly improve the quality of the air in confined spaces.

Who Needs an IAQ Monitor?

Anyone can benefit from monitoring air quality indoors, but people who suffer from asthma and allergies are especially good candidates for these products. The readings on an IAQ monitor can better inform what items you keep inside the home or workplace – from furniture to carpet to paint on the walls.

What Are Some of the Top-Rated IAQ Monitors?

So which IAQ monitor should you buy? Of course, preference for what is measured will lead the decision, but which units receive the highest ratings? We expect units will improve over time but for now, here are some top picks in the marketplace:

  • Dylos: The “pro” version of this unit implements a laser particle sensor that measures down to PM 0.5 — particulates that small are presumed culprits for issues like illness and disease.
  • Foobot: With an array of sensor and calibration features, Foobot has a lot of options that other IAQ units do not yet offer. This is a good pick for anyone who wants variety within readings. A mobile app pairs with the monitor, and users can set alerts when pollutants and other irritants spike indoors.
  • NetAtMo: This weather station offers outdoor and indoor units in the same device. Carbon dioxide monitoring is a feature of the indoor mode, while outdoor mode items include temperature and humidity. This unit also offers a mobile app and designated website where users can monitor air pollutants and see a timeline for comparison.

Using an IAQ monitor is just the first step in improving overall air quality. Once quality is determined, it’s up to you to identify what needs to be done in order to improve and maintain air quality — the first step is typically to make sure you’re using a properly maintained, energy-efficient HVAC system.

Used in conjunction with the right HVAC system, air quality monitors can be a smart addition to your home. For questions about indoor air quality, air quality monitors, or HVAC systems, reach out to the professionals at Bob Jenson today.

4 Tests to Check Your Indoor Air Quality

It’s Better To Know…

Indoor air quality is affected by a wide range of factors — everything from pet dander to cleaning products to dust bunnies can reduce the ability to breathe easily within your home. Because of the direct impact your air quality has on your health and safety, it’s imperative to have indoor air quality tested regularly to rule out any cause for concern.

Fortunately, there are some home tests you can carry out yourself to determine whether you’re breathing in common pollutants like radon, carbon monoxide, mold, or VOCs. Conducting these tests could help your peace of mind and create a healthier, happier home.

1. Radon Testing

Radon is a radioactive gas that you can’t smell or see. Though a small amount is present in the air we breathe daily, it is problematic when radon enters your home and becomes more concentrated inside. If you breathe in too much radon, it can cause serious damage to your health. Some reports even indicate that over-exposure to radon could cause lung cancer.

The EPA suggests that one in every fifteen homes in the United States has a radon problem. Because radon exposure may be asymptomatic at first, you should test your home to determine the radon levels present in your house. There are various do-it-yourself kits that you can buy online or at a home improvement store. These puck-shaped devices use charcoal and other substances to absorb the chemicals in the air. After a short period of time, you send the canister back to a lab for analysis.
If the levels of radon in your home are high, you’ll need to work with a professional to remediate the issue.

Mold Testing

Mold is one of the most common indoor contaminants. That’s because mold is everywhere, and it grows rapidly in temperatures between 30 and 100 degrees. While it’s easy enough to spot visible mildew in your property, which looks like tiny black spots, it’s harder to get a full view of your mold situation.

A mold test provides a snapshot of the mold particles in your home in a certain space, at a certain time. Of course, the number of spores can fluctuate depending on when you perform the test. That’s why it’s best to access the help of a professional. There are three forms of mold tests available:

  • Air testing: This samples the concentration of the spores in your home’s air.
  • Surface test: This takes samples from household surfaces to find the mold growth in your home. You can collect samples with swabs.
  • Bulk testing: This involves collecting small pieces of material from around your home. That material is then transported to a lab and examined.

Carbon Monoxide Testing

Carbon monoxide (CO) is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” and can be one of the most dangerous substances in any American household. In fact, the CDC suggests that around 2,250 people died of carbon monoxide poisoning between 2010 and 2015.

The good news is that most people now have CO detectors pre-installed in their homes, and efforts to prevent CO poisoning are widespread — in fact, California state law requires CO detectors for many homes. Similar to smoke alarms, these detectors can save lives. If you don’t have an alarm (and are not required to by law), or you’re worried about CO gasses, then you should ask an HVAC contractor to come and check your air.

Aside from a professional test, be on the lookout for signs of CO. Frequent condensation is often an indication of excessive carbon monoxide, as is a flickering or inconsistent pilot light.

VOC Testing

Finally, VOCs, or “volatile organic compounds,” are chemicals emitted as gasses from various products around your home. They can be created by everything from your air fresheners to your perfumes. In general, the concentrations of these chemicals can be up to 100 times higher indoors than they are outdoors.

You can measure VOCs by collecting samples and submitting them for analysis in a laboratory, which will use techniques like GC-MS to pinpoint signs of harmful or toxic chemicals. Analysis can then be conducted by experts using thermal desorption, which highlights the intensity of the VOCs in your home.

How your HVAC can Help

Once you’ve finished testing your home for signs of contaminants, the most important thing you can do is make sure that you have a way to protect yourself against those substances. Filtration through your HVAC system can eliminate, or at least reduce, various VOCs and other substances.

Homeowners can even add a HEPA filter into their existing HVAC system or upgrade their machine to ensure that you maintain a higher quality of air within your home. HEPA filtration can remove 99.97% of the particulate matter in your home, provided that it’s larger than 0.3 microns.

As a system that helps circulate and manage the air in your home, your HVAC system is crucial to protecting you against the various contaminants that may harm your health. Reach out to Bob Jenson today to learn more about how to maximize your indoor air quality.

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