Clean air is essential to good health, but most homeowners are blissfully unaware that some of the dirtiest air they breathe is likely coming from their own home.
It is estimated that less than five per cent of Canadian homes have sufficient indoor air quality solutions, and the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States reports that indoor air can be up to five times more contaminated than outdoor air. When discussing home heating and cooling options, the main consideration is often comfort. But as summer is drawing to a close and the pending arrival of cooler weather starts to move more activities indoors, it is the ideal time to have a chat about indoor air quality and what homeowners can do to ensure they are inhaling clean air at home.
“Indoor air quality has always been important, but every home has particulates, germs and gases,” says Mohamed Fouda, Associate Category Manager for HVAC/R at Wolseley Canada. “If homeowners aren’t asking if their home’s heating and cooling system is good enough to remove these pollutants, they should be.”
Any maintenance or seasonal work on a home’s HVAC should include a quick review of the elements required to improve indoor air quality, and any suggested improvements should be raised with the homeowner.
Improving indoor air quality in a home takes a multi-faceted approach, which includes:
Proper ventilation brings more fresh air into a home, diluting any pollutants. Most Canadian jurisdictions require new builds to include heat-recovery ventilators (HRV) or energy-recovery ventilators (ERV), which regulate the transfer of heat or moisture from the outside and the inside. But that only applies to homes built in the last six years, meaning most Canadian houses do not have HRV or ERV installed.
Dust, pollen and pet fur are among the most common pollutants found in the air in homes. But most homes don’t have a filtration system equipped to remove these particulates. Common furnace filters are rated as MERV-7 or MERV-8. These filters are less than 20 per cent efficient for handling particulates 0.03 to 1 micron. These particulates don’t get filtered out until you reach the category of MERV-12 or MERV-13. By introducing a higher MERV value filter, you could approach the same efficiency of a HEPA filter for removing particulates. Another efficient option is to replace the furnace’s standard filter with Polarized Media cleaner whereby home owner will enjoy MERV -16 efficiency with same static pressure of MERV-7 filter.
The addition of a UVC lamp and Bi-polar Ionization will deactivate viruses in the air, thereby stopping any further mutation and allowing the remnants to be captured in the filtration system.
Controlling humidity in a home is important to improving air quality. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the safety zone for humidity should be between 40 and 60 per cent. Anything above or below invites particulate matter and germs to find a place to thrive. Depending on the reading, a humidifier with the help of ERV or a dehumidifier can address the problem.
There are many common things that can adversely affect the indoor air quality of home, including pets, home improvement projects and cooking. Some warning signs of poor air quality a homeowner should be aware of include suffering from allergies, excessive dust collection, morning congestion and higher-than-normal air conditioning bills.
“There’s a huge, untapped opportunity to help customers achieve a higher standard of indoor air quality while all minds are on clean air,” says Mr. Fouda. “With some COVID concerns still lingering, back to school time and winter bearing down on us, indoor air quality is an ongoing concern.”
Learn more about heating, hydronics and IAQ at Wolseley Canada by visiting wolseleyexpress.com/shop-heating.