Breathe Easy: 10 Tips for Improving Your Indoor Air Quality

Conroy Baltimore
Written by Conroy Baltimore
Updated March 1, 2022
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Have you ever walked into your house and caught a whiff of an unpleasant smell? Is it your dog? No, you just bathed them a few days ago. Maybe the flowers on the counter have wilted? It’s definitely a head-scratcher—who knows where the smell could be coming from.

Unfortunately, it could be a sign your home’s indoor air quality isn’t at the standard it should be. It’s probably not something you think about often, but pollutants from cooking, cleaning supplies, pets, and paints can affect your home’s air quality and cause adverse health effects.

No one wants to breathe in polluted air. But you can breathe a sigh of relief because improving indoor quality is easy, and we’ll show you how below.

How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality 

Before taking steps to improve the air quality in your home, you may want to do an indoor air quality assessment. It’s your guide to figuring out problem areas that need the most care.

Take the time to inspect your home from top to bottom. Look for signs of any discoloration on your walls, dampness in certain areas, or debris accumulation in your air ducts.

1. Change Your AC Filter

As you know, your AC works all year round to give your home the perfect temperature. While it’s providing the comfort you need, it’s also filtering out small pollutants to help keep the air clean. When these filters get full, they stop working and impact your home’s air quality. This could mean trouble for your HVAC system and lead to costly repairs in the future.

Change the filter regularly to avoid long-term issues with your system and air quality. Some of the best air filters catch up to 99% of air pollutants, giving you peace of mind about the air you’re breathing at home.

2. Inspect Air Ducts

What is an air duct? It’s the part of your HVAC system that transfers hot and cold air to certain areas of your home. With the temperature regulation, your electric bills are kept at reasonable prices (depending on seasonal factors, of course).

Have you looked in your air ducts recently? If it’s not on your to-do list yet, it might be worth considering. Air is constantly going back and forth through the vents, along with other pollutants. 

If they aren’t cleaned regularly, the debris can build up over time and affect your indoor air quality. 

Have your ducts cleaned at least every two to five years to ensure there’s no backlog of contaminants. But if you see any visible signs of dust, mold, or dirt accumulation, get your ducts cleaned at your earliest convenience.

3. Control the Humidity

Humidity is always a problem when you live in warmer climates, but it can affect any household that does not have the right home ventilation system. When there’s moisture in the air, it creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew. As these infestations grow, they can affect respiratory issues like asthma or trigger allergic reactions. 

Invest in a dehumidifier to reduce your home’s humidity. It’ll increase your comfort levels while also improving the air quality. You can also use your AC to cool rooms down if you like the temperature on the cooler side. 

4. Use HVAC UV Lights

HVAC UV lights are becoming more popular with homeowners because of how they help your HVAC system. The ultraviolet lights purify any air that travels through your vents, meaning mold, bacteria, and other contaminants won’t impact your health or your home’s indoor air quality.

They won’t remove dust, pet dander, or other allergens that may cause an individual to get sick. However, because they kill bacteria and microorganisms, your HVAC system will be more efficient, leaving you with cleaner air for longer stretches.

Installing HVAC UV lights can cost roughly $1,500. It’s an excellent investment for your home if you live with a person dealing with respiratory issues or live in warmer climates.

5. Open Your Windows

A woman opening curtain
Photo: kali9 / E+ / Getty Images

Opening your windows is a simple yet effective solution to improving indoor air quality. Doing it for a few minutes a day can remove the stale indoor air and bring in fresh air from outside. Open multiple windows to create a cross breeze through your home, airing out various rooms at a time.

Understandably if it’s cold outside, you might not want to release the indoor heat. But that fresh air for a few minutes at a time can rejuvenate your home. 

6. Run Your Extractor Fans

We all know how distracting running extractor fans can be. The loud whirring noise might even keep you up at night. However, using them more frequently can help your ventilation efforts.

The exhaust fans in your kitchen can help remove fumes from cooking or cleaning products. You can use the ventilation fan in your bathroom to pull moisture from the air and release it outside.

7. Clean Your Carpets and Rugs Regularly

There’s nothing like feeling the warmth and softness of the carpet on your feet. The same goes for rugs, too—you feel like you’re stepping on a pillow. While their comfort is great, they can also deteriorate your home’s air quality.

These objects collect and trap dirt, pollen, and other particles in their fibers. If you have a furry friend running around, you’ll know that pet dander is often a culprit in carpets and rugs too.

It’s essential to clean these coverings regularly to prevent build-up over time. Once you clean them, they can continue acting as a natural filter for unwanted air pollutants.

8. Get Your Air Professionally Tested

Suppose you’re having concerns about your home’s air quality. In that case, you can have the air tested by a professional to identify any air pollution issues you might have.

These tests cost an average of $400 but can go up to $1,000 depending on the size of your house. 

A professional air test will check for the following issues: 

  • Asbestos

  • Mold

  • Bacteria

  • VOCs

  • Allergens

9. Maintain Your HVAC System

Maintaining your HVAC system goes far beyond your heating and cooling solutions. As we mentioned above, changing the filters is necessary for improving indoor air quality.

However, you should check other parts of your system as well. For example, your AC coils might need cleaning, or there might be a leak from your AC. Each piece of your HVAC system contributes to your home’s air quality. If one area is not working correctly, it disrupts the entire system.

Make sure you follow a proper maintenance schedule to avoid any significant issues with your HVAC unit. Take note of any problems you see and if you can’t fix them yourself, search for HVAC repair services near you to provide assistance.

10. Avoid Air Fresheners

What’s usually the first step you take when there’s a funky odor in the air? You break out the air fresheners because of the pleasant aroma they provide. But these objects contain volatile organic compounds or VOCs, which can further decrease your home’s air quality levels. 

You won’t notice the compounds in the air, but they can irritate areas of your body, such as your eyes, nose, and throat. They could also cause slight nausea or headaches, so if you can’t avoid them, make sure the room is properly ventilated to minimize exposure.

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