Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
Everyone wants clean air to breathe. Of course, this isn’t something most of us think about on a daily basis, but that’s just because we’re probably not experiencing any health symptoms to suggest otherwise.
However, the moment our eyes get itchy, nose gets drippy, throat gets scratchy or chest gets tight, we start to wonder what’s in the air! Could it be pollen? Dog dander? Secondhand smoke? Candles or air fresheners? Mould? Smog?
It may be all of the above or none of the above. Without professional indoor air quality testing, you may never know for certain what specifically has triggered your most recent headache or respiratory discomfort.
But with these four key tools at the ready, you can at least begin to reduce the amount of sick time you log by keeping your indoor air at home and at work cleaner and more breathable!
4 Indoor Air Quality Keys
Let’s take a closer look at these reliable controls: balanced humidity, ventilation, circulation and cleaning.
As you will see, each element has its own essential role to play in keeping your indoor air breathable, comfortable and squeaky clean.
1. Balanced Humidity
For years, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been recommending that homeowners aim for an indoor humidity range of 30 to 50 percent.
Typically, this will work out to where your indoor air humidity is slightly higher during the warm months than in the cold season.
Staying within this 30 to 50 percent range helps minimize both health issues and structural (building) issues related to too much or too little humidity in your air supply.
The best tools for maintaining a consistent year-round balance of humidity in your indoor air are two appliances: a humidifier and a dehumidifier.
These appliances come in both portable (room units) and central (whole home units) models.
Other helpful tools include weather stripping and sealing, adding insulation and exhaust fans and considering an upgrade to Energy Star-certified windows. Each of these additions can help keep your indoor air quality consistent regardless of what may be occurring with the weather outside.
If you’ve ever walked into your home after someone has just cooked a pungent dish such as fish, you already know why ventilation is so important to the quality of your indoor air!
Not every airborne toxin will stink the way fish does, so you won’t always have those obvious warning signs to let you know it is time to throw open a door or crack a window.
The best way to be sure your indoor air is well ventilated is to automate that task by installing a heat recovery ventilator system (HRV). The heat recovery ventilator is a nifty device that works with any central (ducted) HVAC unit.
Not only can your HRV help keep fresh air continually coming into your space, but it also helps lower your monthly heating and air conditioning bills by recycling heat energy.
Best of all, the HRV can also help with balancing indoor humidity levels!
Is there one room in your home or at your workplace that is always hotter or colder than all the others? Do you find yourself constantly negotiating with family or co-workers to adjust the thermostat so you can be more comfortable?
These are common symptoms of poor indoor air circulation. Fresh air is not being distributed evenly and equally to every room in a space.
Often, this occurs when your existing ductwork begins to degrade over time. Ducts may start to sag or leak or develop cracks or tears. Sometimes ducts get clogged up with dust and other matter and get partially blocked. Sometimes it is the air registers or exhaust vents that are not doing their job properly to deliver fresh air and remove stale air.
If you have recently changed your floor plan at work or renovated your home to add on a new space, you may find this can also cause circulation issues where rooms are not temperature-balanced.
One of the best ways to improve whole-home or workplace air circulation is to schedule a professional indoor air duct cleaning. This service not only removes all trapped matter inside your air ducts (you can take a look at this short before/after video to get an idea of what needs to be removed) but it also cleans your air registers and exhaust vents and removes any blockages.
During your indoor air duct cleaning, your technician also evaluates the quality and integrity of your existing air duct network. You may only need to make minor repairs, sealing leaks and cracks, or there may be significant degradation that indicates a partial or full replacement.
With this work completed, your space will once again be temperature balanced evenly from room to room.
The final key to maintaining consistently clean, pure indoor air lies solely in your hands: cleaning. Cleaning not only refers to your consistent efforts to sweep, vacuum, sanitize and so on, but it also relates to what products you choose to use inside your home or at work.
For example, using commercial cleaning products and chemical air fresheners, including some candles, can add harmful chemicals to your indoor air. Smoking or vaping indoors, using a wood stove or fireplace, doing crafts or home renovations that require adhesives and paints, and similar activities can each introduce airborne toxins into your air supply.
Of course, it is not always an option to forego certain activities, even if you know they may impact your air quality. For these times, we recommend the installation of a portable or central ultraviolet air purifier or high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air filtration system.
Both can remove toxins from your indoor air supply, ensuring you have a steady supply of fresh, pure, oxygenated air over the long term.
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