Indoor Air Quality & HVAC: Tips to Reduce Your Risk

Indoor air quality

Poor indoor air quality is a threat to your health and your business

With smoke from wildfires invading our air lately, everyone is concerned about outdoor air quality. But the fact is, indoor air can be even more dangerous. According to the EPA, indoor air quality can be as much as 2 to 5 times worse than the air outside, due to a long list of indoor contaminants. That’s a risk to both your health and your business.

Your HVAC is a critical component when it comes to indoor air quality, because your system circulates and filters air, and also provides outdoor air as per local codes.

Here’s what to be concerned about, how air quality impacts health and your business, and how caring for your HVAC can help to improve indoor air quality.

Beyond smoke: more causes of poor air quality

Have you been smelling smoke, even indoors? That’s because particulate matter from wildfire smoke is making its way into your space and reducing your indoor air quality. But there’s more to worry about than the smoke. There are many other sources of indoor air contamination, including:

  • Dust mites, pollen, and dander
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • VOCs from furniture, flooring and other building materials, and from electronic equipment like computers and copiers
  • Chemicals like insecticides, cleaning agents, and paints
  • Mold spores that grow in moist conditions
  • Odors/exhaust air from restrooms

Chances are, you have some or even all of these contaminants in your indoor air. As your heating and air conditioning systems circulate air throughout your space, those contaminants are circulated with it.

The impacts of poor indoor air quality

It’s no secret that pollutants in the air (indoors and outdoors) can cause respiratory symptoms and illnesses. However, you might not realize that they can also cause a whole host of other health symptoms:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Ear infections
  • Hoarseness and throat irritation
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain and muscle pain
  • Fever and chills

Are your employees complaining about mysterious symptoms like these? If so, you’re losing productivity every time they call in sick, or simply get less work done because they feel unwell.

If your business relies on attracting customers to your business location, you could also be driving away customers with some types of indoor air quality problems, like odors and sticky humid air. Better air quality can actually improve your bottom line.

The good news is, there are easy steps you can take to make your indoor air safer to breathe.

Air quality & HVAC tips for safer air

1. Get regular HVAC maintenance

Getting your HVAC systems serviced regularly keeps components clean and helps prevent the spread of airborne contaminants. Here’s what your technician will do and how it helps not only keep air cleaner, but also protect your system from damage.

Change HVAC filters. Replacing dirty filters gets rid of the contaminants captured there, and also improves air flow to optimize system performance.

Clean AC coils. Removing debris coating air conditioning coils helps to maximize heat transfer and prevent straining the system.

Check the condition of ducts. Your ductwork can harbor all the sources of poor indoor quality listed above. If your technician finds your ducts clogged and dirty, you may need to schedule a duct cleaning appointment.

Clear drain lines and pans. Water leaks are a big danger when it comes to indoor air quality, because you can end up with mold growth and airborne mold spores. Clearing clogged drain lines and pans prevents water leaks.

Optimize AC to reduce humidity. If your AC is not properly controlling humidity, that can also lead to mold growth. In some cases, minor design changes or adding ventilation can improve airflow and reduce humidity.

2. Change your filters more often

As air passes through the components of your heating and cooling systems, airborne contaminants collect on HVAC filters. In extreme conditions like the smoke we’re dealing with now, filters get clogged faster.

You might want to consider changing filters yourself between service appointments. Ask your service provider to get you a supply of filters and show you how to check and change them.

3. Consider upgrading HVAC filters

Here’s what you might not know: standard HVAC filters are not designed to protect your health, but to protect your equipment. However, you may be able to upgrade to higher-efficiency filters (such as MERV 13 filters) that can trap more particles like VOCs and microorganisms.

You may be familiar with MERV 13 filters, because they were recommended during the pandemic to help reduce the airborne spread of the COVID virus. There are also HEPA filters designed to remove particles that can worsen allergies and asthma.

However, it’s important to consult with an HVAC expert before replacing filters on your own. You’ll need to make sure your system can accept a thicker filter in the housing. But more importantly, your system may need adjustments due to the reduced airflow with higher-efficiency filters. The last thing you want to do is cause your AC to lose cooling capacity or even break down.

If you’re concerned about air quality, Worthing Air can help

Have you had your HVAC system inspected, cleaned, and tuned up recently? If not, Worthing Air can take care of that for you. It’s a quick and easy way to improve your indoor air quality, optimize your comfort, and help prevent expensive breakdowns.

Call Worthing Air today at 973-575-5276

Worthing Air is the HVAC service partner more NJ companies rely on. Efficiency, quality, and integrity have been the backbone of our operation for over 40 years. Our technical expertise ensures safe, high-quality, and timely workmanship on every project.