Your HVAC vs. the “World’s Worst Air”
In our native Northwest climes, famous for Evergreen trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air and emit oxygen to improve air quality, the alarming reversal of fortune that saw Seattle register the world’s worst air quality in ten years was truly staggering.
For the first time in at least a decade, the average number of days with moderate or worse air quality in Washington inched closer to a full month, according to data from the state Department of Ecology.
On average, between 2016 and 2020, Washington residents were exposed to 34 days of smoky air annually, compared to 22 days from 2009 to 2014, according to a 2021 analysis of federal satellite imagery of smoke waves by NPR’s California Newsroom and Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab.
How You Can Improve Indoor Air Quality Using Your HVAC System
There are four ways you can improve indoor air quality (IAQ) using your HVAC system.
• Increase Air Circulation
• Check your HVAC Filters
• Schedule Regular Maintenance for your HVAC system
• Invest in HVAC Indoor Air Quality Products
1. Increase Air Circulation
By increasing air circulation inside your home, you can address several indoor air quality issues, including dusty or polluted air, stuffy, humid air and uneven temperatures.
Most thermostats have a switch labeled “auto” and “on,” or a button with a fan icon, that allow you to toggle between settings. This switch controls your the blower and fan which can circulate conditioned air throughout your home year-round.
When you set your fan to run on “auto,” your blower can only circulate air when your air conditioner, heat pump, furnace or air handler is running. However, if you set your fan to “on,” your blower can run even when your HVAC system isn’t heating or cooling your home. This means that the air in your home can circulate more frequently.
Increased air circulation means your HVAC filtration system filters the air in your home more frequently, a more healthful benefit for those who suffer from allergies or asthma.
If constant air circulation isn’t comfortable for you, we recommend letting your blower run as much as possible, especially when air pollution poses a threat.
2. Check Your HVAC Filters
Your HVAC system’s filters can affect indoor air quality positively but also negatively – by reducing airflow or by neglecting to catch harmful particles.
An HVAC filter’s job is to remove dust, debris and allergens from the air circulating throughout your home. As your filter collects particulates, it’s normal for your filter to get dirty. This is why it’s essential to regularly change your filter.
The longer a filter stays in your system, the dirtier it will become. If you go too long between changing your filter, it can even damage your system.
Examples of particles that a four-inch filter can catch:
• Pet dander
• Mold spores
If your family struggles with allergies or asthma, switching to a different type of filter can help. Switching to a different filter will also help if you have issues with lingering pet or cooking odors.
3. Schedule Regular Maintenance for Your HVAC System
When our HVAC technicians service your system, they don’t just tune-up your furnace, air conditioner, heat pump or air handler – the visit also includes cleaning.
During a furnace tune-up, an HVAC technician should clean dust or debris from your furnace cabinet. The technician should also examine your blower fan.
While many new furnaces typically don’t require intensive cleaning, this can vary depending on factors in your home. Debris like pet hair and lint that end up in your system can collect on your blower fan. Because the blower fan controls air circulation year-round, this can affect your heating and cooling systems performance.
During an air conditioner or heat pump tune-up, an HVAC technician should check the condition of your condenser, compressor and evaporator coil.
If you notice abnormal smells when your system runs, this could mean that your system is circulating air pollutants like mold spores and bacteria. If this is the case, speak with your Quality HVAC technician immediately to schedule a cleaning.
4. Invest in HVAC Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Products
Sometimes your existing HVAC system needs a little help to address indoor air quality issues. If your health and comfort are at risk, there are several IAQ products to add to your existing system.
Cold winters bring dry air. Humidifiers can give your furnace a break. Since water vapor helps air hold heat better, your furnace won’t need to run as often to maintain the temperatures in your home.
Too much humidity can also affect your comfort and your home. Dehumidifiers help by removing humidity from the air. In the Pacific Northwest, dehumidifiers can be essential to protecting your home and possessions fro mold, insects, mites, and warping of floor or woodwork.
Removing humidity from the air can also help you feel cooler. With less water vapor, the air won’t be able to hold heat as easily. And because warm air and humidity tend to rise, a dehumidifier can help you reclaim upstairs rooms that are typically too muggy and hot.
Does it seem like when one member of your household gets sick, your whole family does? There’s HVAC equipment for that!
Air purifiers can kill viruses and bacteria before they can spread. One air purifier, the Reme Halo, can kill germs from a sneeze within three feet of the person who sneezed. The Reme Halo is also 99.9% effective against COVID-19.
With its ability to eliminate germs before they can spread, an air purifier can be a great investment if you or a member of your family is immunocompromised.
Most people would not hesitate to add a water filter if they noticed impurities in the water they drink or use for cleaning. The same preventative measures can work wonders for the air you breathe, especially when that air has been found to be the “worst in the world.” [QHEAC]