There are a lot of ways to prepare for winter. Digging up your winter coats, gloves, scarves and boots out of the closet. Stocking up on ice melt. Finding that ice scraper that slid under the car seat last winter. While you take care of these things each year, you may not have been concerned about the quality of your indoor air at home or work.
While indoor air quality is important to your health and comfort during the winter, it was often an overlooked factor in the past. That’s changed in the past two years. Now, there’s a greater focus on testing and improving overall indoor air quality especially during winter since you’ll be spending more time inside than outside. That being said, you may have many questions about indoor air quality issues, causes and treatments.
In the following article, we’ll explain what indoor air quality is, describe the common causes of poor indoor air quality, identify the warning signs of this poor quality, and demonstrate how you can improve your indoor air quality.
What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
You’ve probably heard the term “indoor air quality” (also known as IAQ and indoor environmental quality) used a lot on the news or online. However, these outlets may not have explained what exactly IAQ means? Indoor air quality refers to the condition of air we breathe while we’re inside our homes, workplaces, schools, etc.
Primarily, IAQ is concerned with how the temperature, humidity and ventilation of this indoor air can affect the health of you and everyone else in your household or workplace. If temperature and humidity levels are too high or the property lacks good ventilation, it can negatively affect the indoor air quality.
What are the Common Causes of Poor IAQ?
As stated above, temperature and humidity levels and poor ventilation are the leading contributors to poor IAQ. However, there are plenty of other contributors to poor indoor air quality that can be found in your household or workplace, including:
- Mold growth caused by water damage (floods, leaks) or high levels of humidity
- Lack of HVAC maintenance (especially dirty air ducts and baseboards)
- Smoke and other emissions caused by stoves, ovens, fireplaces, furnaces, and kerosene heaters
- Tobacco smoke (cigarettes, cigars, pipes)
- Contaminants (dust, debris) caused by construction or renovations
- Other airborne contaminants from the use of chemicals (cleaning supplies, pesticides)
What are the IAQ Warning Signs?
Signs of poor indoor air quality are not noticeable with the naked eye (unless you spot mold growth or see visible signs of water damage like stains or dampness on walls, floors, ceilings and carpet). However, the most common signs of poor indoor air quality are those that trigger a reaction:
- Unpleasant odors such as musty smells
- Uncomfortable, stuffy temperatures
- Recurring symptoms (headache, fatigue, sore eyes, sore throat) that dissipate when you leave your home or workplace
- Respiratory symptoms (cough, congestions, shortness of breath) that linger even outside of your home or workplace
How Can I Improve My IAQ
If you suspect that your home or workplace has poor indoor air quality, there are multiple methods to help improve it to avoid any minor or serious issues:
Enlist the help of a certified IAQ technician to conduct multiple IAQ tests (particle tests, gas tests, chemical tests, and humidity tests) and speak with you and your household members or coworkers about the issues you may be experiencing. If necessary, the IAQ specialist will install humidifiers, dehumidifiers, or HEPA air purifiers in your property to resolve your specific IAQ issues.
Schedule a cleaning appointment for all of your household or workplace air ducts to rid them of any dirt, dust, debris and other contaminants that may be contributing to poor air quality.
If your property is experiencing mold growth, contact a mold testing and remediation technician to treat your mold and remove it from your home or workplace.
Contact a water damage restoration specialist if your property was recently affected by flooding, leaks or any form of water damage.
Now you have a better understanding of indoor air quality, its common causes, identifiable warning signs and the necessary actions you can take to improve your IAQ.
If you suspect your property is experiencing poor IAQ or you would like to improve your indoor air quality, the experts at FloodCo USA are here to help! As one of the few certified IAQ specialists in the NJ/Manhattan area, we can conduct the proper tests, assess the situation and take corrective action to protect your property from poor indoor air quality.
Contact us today to improve your indoor air quality for the winter and throughout the year.