How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home


Air Filter being installed at a furnace to help protect the furnace and remove particles from the air

Indoor air quality is becoming a bigger concern in the United States. As buildings have gotten more energy efficient, the risk of trapping unhealthy particles inside has increased.

The average person spends 90% of their time indoors, whether that be at home, at work or inside another building (United States Environmental Protection Agency). For certain contaminants, the level of air pollution inside a home can be 2 to 5 times of outdoor air. This can be especially unhealthy for sensitive groups like older adults and those with diseases such as asthma.

Clean air in your home may be harder to achieve than you would expect. The average 6-room home generates over 40 pounds of dust each year. Considering many dust particles are so small, you don’t even see them, that is a lot of dust. And there is other particle pollution in your home as well.

Allergens, including tree, weed, mold and grass pollen find their way into your home. So how do you improve the indoor air quality in your home and remove the dust? There are some solutions to improving the dust and allergen situation in your home using your HVAC system.

The Right Air Filter Can Clean the Air

Dust is going to happen in your house. There is no getting around that. It may sound gross, but just by living in the house, you are creating dust. Hair, dead skin cells, lint from clothing and more all contribute to the dust in your home. Regularly dusting the surfaces of your home will help remove a lot of this dust. But part of the reason you are reading this is that you are sick of dusting your home repeatedly.

What if you had a giant vacuum cleaner that sucked the dust and allergens right out of the air. That would be great, right? If you’ve got a forced air HVAC system, then in a way, you already do. The question is, are you using it to its full potential?

  • Replace air filters regularly. This will trap additional dust and pollen particles and your system will operate more efficiently. It may even last longer if regularly operated with clean filters.

Pleated Air Filters Can Assist in Removing Dust

Air filters protect your HVAC air handler and need to be changed regularly. Picked them up at home improvement or general merchandise stores. There was a time when picking an air filter was simple. They came in one basic type and you just needed the right size. Then filter manufacturers started moving beyond the standard fiberglass filters. Fiberglass filters remove only large particles from the air to protect the air handling unit.

Now you can get air filters that are pleated, made of electrostatic materials that attract dust particles and can filter even very small particles out of the air. These types of filters are considered extended surface air filters and can trap much smaller particles of dust that is in the air than a standard air filter.

There is a trade off. More particle filtering creates increased resistance and reduces the air flow to your HVAC air handling equipment. Sometimes dust clogs these filters in less than the 3 months they are expected to last. At as much as $20 per filter, these can get really expensive when you have multiple air returns in your home. To learn what our recommendation is for this type of air filter, please read Selecting an Air Filter.

Air Cleaning Systems for Better Indoor Air Quality

Media filter used to improve indoor air qualityWhile pleated air filters can do a good job, a whole house air filter is a better long-term solution. It is also a better solution for those that experience more serious health problems from indoor pollution. These systems range from large filters to cleaners that use electrostatic charges and ultraviolet lights to clean the air.

Media Filters

Media filters installed in your duct system are the next level of filtering. These filters are much thicker than the standard air filter you may be used to. At 5-inches thick or more, they are designed with multiple layers. All those extra layers collect small sized particles like pollen, micro-organisms, smoke or other pollutants. Installation of media filters is done at the air handler in a special box so that all the air in the home flows through the filter before reaching the air handler.

While getting to your air handler (part of your furnace for most homes with gas furnaces) to change the filter might be more difficult than replacing a filter in your air return, they do not need to be replaced nearly as often as the one-inch filters typically found in your return grates. Research has shown these filters can be up to 4 times more effective at removing pollutants from the air than 1-inch filters. We recommend reasonable priced Media filters as a minimum for a cleaner, healthier home.

Air Cleaning Systems

More sophisticated air cleaners can result in even cleaner indoor air. Air cleaning systems are recommended for people with allergies, asthma, and respiratory health concerns. Electrostatic, high-quality air filtering can remove dust, pollen, pet hair and dander, dust mites, mildew, lint, fungus, most tobacco smoke, cooking grease, and even bacteria from the air. By using a series of electrically charged fields to catch small particles, these air cleaning systems can remove pollutants as small as .1 microns from the air without causing airflow problems for your system. This is about 100 times more effective than a standard 1-inch filter.

Air Scrubber Plus – Air Purifier

The most recent option that we are now installing in homes uses a NASA Certified Technology to clean the air in your home. The Air Scrubber Plus uses a combination of cleaning power to help remove the dust from the air and even surfaces in your home. It uses technology similar to that used to purify the air in the International Space Station. It works while your air conditioning or heat is running and only uses 19 watts of electricity, similar to leaving a small fluorescent light bulb on.

Help with Indoor Air Quality

Installing some type of filtering in your home is a good step to take to be sure that air quality is acceptable. Contact us to learn more about having an air cleaning system installed in your Rock Hill area home. Our consultant will look at your current system, listen to your needs and provide a recommendation.