WHAT IS INDOOR AIR QUALITY AND HOW DO YOU CONTROL IT?
Indoor air quality, sometimes abbreviated as “IAQ,” is a term homeowners may hear when learning about their heating and air conditioning system. This article discusses several ways to improve your indoor air quality, but we first need to clear the air (pun intended) on what “indoor air quality” means.
One thing many homeowners don’t understand is that most of today’s HVAC systems are closed systems. That means your heating and cooling system does not introduce outside air into your home. Instead, fresh air is introduced into your home any time you open a door or window.
Before you go and open all the doors and windows to your home, you need to understand that outside air is generally dirtier than the air inside your home. That’s because your HVAC system filters the air in your home each time it is circulated, thereby removing dust, allergens, etc., from the inside air. That also makes the air filter your most important ally in this battle to improve air quality.
Air filters sold in the U.S. are assigned a minimum efficiency reporting value, or “MERV rating.” The important thing to understand about MERV ratings is that as a higher rating means it can filter smaller particles. But that doesn’t simply mean you should rush out and buy a filter with the highest MERV rating you can find.
When you increase the MERV rating of your filter, you are going to trap more particulates from the air in your home. That also means your filter is going to fill more quickly and probably need to be replaced more often.
In addition, the finer filtration on a filter with a high MERV rating will reduce the amount of airflow in your system. If the air cannot flow freely enough for your system, your air conditioner can literally freeze up in the summer like the unit shown in this picture.
After changing your air filter, the next thing you should consider when it comes to improving your indoor air quality is increasing how frequently the air in your home passes through the filter. The blower in your furnace is responsible for forcing air in your home through your filter and through the ducting. In most systems, however, your blower is programmed to run only when your thermostat is calling for hot or cold air. After your home has reached the desired temperature, the whole system—including the blower—shuts down until it is time to heat or cool the home again.
Most modern heating and cooling systems are now equipped with an electronically commutated motor, or “ECM motor.” These motors allow you to keep the blower motor running all the time. This does not take as much energy as you might think, and it will keep the air constantly circulating through your home.
Of course, your filter can only do so much. Particulates that are too small for your particular filter will continue to escape back into the air of your home because they are too small to be captured by your filter. For those small particles, devices like humidifiers, UV or germicidal lights, five-inch pleated filters and electronic air cleaners can be used.
To learn more about improving the indoor air quality at your home located along the Wasatch Front, contact one of the specialists at Blue Best today. We’ll be happy to talk with you about the options that are available for your home.