Were you aware that 137 million people in the U.S. breathe unhealthy, pollutant-ridden air? Worse, that’s an increase of nine million affected individuals from previous years! A good chunk of those folks, in turn, live in none other than Texas. Indeed, many of the state’s counties had failing grades (F) in the 2022 State of the Air Report. That includes Harris County, so Humble, TX residents are also at risk of polluted air. Does that mean, then, that it’s safer to stay cooped up inside because indoor air quality (IAQ) can be better?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case; it’s among the most common misconceptions.
To that end, we created this guide busting the most pervasive myths and rumors about IAQ. So read on, as discovering the truth can help keep your home’s air quality healthy and safe.
1. Pollution Only Affects Outdoor Air
No. There are even cases wherein indoor air has more pollutants than outdoor air.
For instance, some pollutant levels can be two to five times higher in indoor air than outdoors. The contamination can be even up to 100 times greater in some cases.
One reason indoor air can be more polluted is that many U.S. homes are airtight. That causes pollutants from indoor sources to become trapped inside.
An example is using fossil-fuel-based energy sources, such as natural gas. It creates byproducts like carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4). These gases can stay and build up at dangerous levels indoors if not vented correctly.
Smoking tobacco cigarettes, which 47.1 million U.S. adults do, can also cause indoor air pollution. After all, tobacco smoke contains CO, formaldehyde, ammonia, and other pollutants. So if someone in your household smokes indoors, that can lower your home’s IAQ.
Indoor molds can also contribute to poor IAQ because of all the spores they release. High humidity levels caused by water leaks, in turn, let them grow inside buildings. And mind you, the typical U.S. household has leaks that waste 10,000 gallons yearly.
Also, don’t forget that Humble, TX, can be humid throughout the year. Humidity levels in the city rarely go below 70%. But unfortunately, high outdoor humidity can also affect your home’s indoor humidity.
2. Air Fresheners Help Boost IAQ
Air fresheners can help make the air smell fresh, but that doesn’t mean they clean it. On the contrary, some of these products emit potentially hazardous air pollutants. Studies even implicate them as a leading volatile organic compound (VOC) source.
VOCs emitted by air fresheners may include acetaldehyde, benzene, and toluene. While difficult to smell, they can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. They can also trigger headaches and nausea.
Moreover, the VOCs air fresheners emit into the air can react with other air pollutants, such as ozone. That reaction can result in the creation of secondary air pollutants, including formaldehyde.
3. Poor IAQ Only Affects People With Allergies
Indeed, poor indoor air quality is more dangerous to folks with allergies and lung issues. However, it can harm anyone, whether they have allergies or not.
For example, poor IAQ can be a factor in or cause the development of infections. It can also result in or contribute to chronic lung diseases, like asthma and even cancer.
4. It’s Okay if It Doesn’t Smell Bad
It’s not always the case.
Some gases that can pollute indoor air, such as CO and radon, are invisible, odorless, and tasteless. Thus, they can be present in the indoor air you breathe, and you won’t even know it.
Aside from tobacco smoke, gas- or wood-burning ovens and stoves can emit CO. The same goes for clothes dryers, fireplaces, water heaters, and power tools. In addition, furnace problems, such as a cracked heat exchanger, can leak this gas into your home.
On the other hand, radon is a naturally-occurring gas produced by rock and soil. It can also come from natural gas, water supply, and building materials.
Both CO and radon at elevated levels are dangerous, even deadly. The good news is that indoor air quality testing can determine if you have them at home. Moreover, such tests can check for other indoor air pollutants like mold, VOCs, and dust mites, to name a few.
5. HVAC Systems Always Help Improve IAQ
An HVAC system’s chief purposes are to provide comfort and optimal indoor air quality. It does the latter by ensuring adequate ventilation with filtration. And to carry out that job, it relies on air filters that catch and trap airborne pollutants.
However, HVAC systems, particularly ill-maintained ones, can become a source of air pollution. Here’s how.
An HVAC filter that’s become so filthy and clogged can no longer trap pollutants. Moreover, the contaminants it has once trapped can also become airborne. In addition, severe clogging in air filters can cause poor performance and inefficiency.
Therefore, make sure you change or clean your HVAC air filters as often as needed. The typical recommendation is every three months. However, since you live in Humble, TX, it might be best to do it monthly.
Stagnant Water in Drip Pans
Another way an ill-maintained HVAC system can lower IAQ is by promoting mold growth. That can happen when the collected condensation in their drip pans becomes stagnant.
Aside from giving molds the moisture they need, an AC pan leaking can also cause water damage. And when that water spreads, more molds can grow on more surfaces.
All that should tell you how crucial heating and cooling maintenance is to your home’s IAQ. Besides, a well-maintained HVAC lasts longer, performs better, and is more energy efficient.
Time to Elevate Your Indoor Air Quality
And there you have it, your ultimate guide on the myths and the truths about indoor air quality. Now you know indoor air isn’t always better than outdoor air, and IAQ impacts everyone. You also learned that while an HVAC system can help improve IAQ, an ill-maintained one can do the opposite.
So, why not improve the IAQ of your home in Humble, TX, by scheduling an AC and heating tune-up today? We at Guy’s Air Conditioning and Heating are happy to help, so feel free to contact us now!