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In many homes and businesses, the air inside is more polluted than the air outside. Poor indoor air quality can make your home less comfortable and reduce your productivity at work.

Inefficiency and sick leave from low indoor air quality cost employers billions of dollars every year. At home, it can shorten your HVAC system’s life and make inconvenient, expensive breakdowns more likely. Poor indoor air quality is more common in winter because people spend more time indoors with the windows and doors closed.

If your Siesta Key, Florida, home’s humidity is too high or too low, you could also have to deal with mold, warped wood floors, walls, or furniture, or dry, cracked wood. The costs of poor indoor air quality also include health problems, unpleasant smells, lots of dust, high utility bills, pests, and warm or drafty areas in your home.

Health Problems

Poor indoor air quality can cause eye irritation, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, skin rashes, sinus problems, nosebleeds, nausea, trouble concentrating, shortness of breath, and many other issues. It can also increase the risk of asthma, infections, and allergies. Many indoor air pollutants, like mold, pollen, pet dander, and dust mites, are allergens, and asthma is a leading cause of hospital stays for children. If your home is full of bacteria and viruses, you and your family will get sick more often as well.

If you have a cold that just won’t go away or other health symptoms that improve when you leave your home, then get worse when you come back, you could have poor indoor air quality. Everyone in your family might have health problems from poor indoor air quality, or only one or two people could get sick.

Children, older adults, and people with existing respiratory problems or other diseases are more likely to have trouble with their health because of poor indoor air quality. Even wearing contact lenses can make eye irritation more likely. You may notice problems after renovating, painting, using pesticides, or repairing water damage or other issues. Pollutants in your home’s indoor air could even make your pets feel bad.

Many air fresheners, paints, glues, and cleaning products contain VOCs or volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde, toluene, acetone, benzene, and xylene. These chemicals evaporate at room temperature, so they can travel around your home and cause health problems easily. Computers, copy machines, and furniture can also contain VOCs. You can reduce these chemicals in your home or business by using natural cleaning products and air fresheners. You should also store fuel, paints, and other products in a shed or garage and make sure your home has plenty of ventilation.

Unpleasant Smells

Mold often causes a stale, musty smell like dirty socks in your home, along with allergies and other health problems. Since excess moisture often leads to mold growth, a bad smell could be coming from a leaky pipe, a clogged drain, or the high humidity in Florida. A dehumidifier can help you prevent mold and the bad smell that comes with it. It can also make your home feel cooler in summer and help you save money on your utility bills.

A gas leak usually has a smell that resembles rotten eggs. If you notice this smell, you should leave your home immediately and call your gas or utility company. Gas that’s mixed with the air in your home could cause you and your family to suffocate because it pushes the oxygen out of your rooms. Also, an open flame could ignite the gas and cause severe damage.

If you have gas, you should install a carbon monoxide detector to warn you if there’s a gas leak. A bad smell in your home could be barely noticeable at first and then become more intense over time. Since people tend to get used to smells, they may not notice the smell of a gas leak without a carbon monoxide detector. This device can also wake you up if there’s a leak while you’re sleeping.

A burning smell is normal when you turn on your furnace for the first time in winter, but it shouldn’t continue for more than a few minutes. If it lasts longer or you smell exhaust fumes, you could have a wiring problem or trouble with the fan in your heater or air conditioner. To check for bad smells, step outside for a few minutes and then come back inside to check for unusual odors. That way, you can get rid of bad smells before they harm your health.

Lots of Dust

Your HVAC system’s air filter collects dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, and other indoor air pollutants. If you don’t change your air filter at least every three months, these contaminants will clog it, then spread to your ductwork and the rest of your home. If all your furniture and knickknacks always seem to be covered in a layer of dust, change the air filter.

You should also vacuum and dust often and ask visitors to take off their shoes before they come into your home. That way, no one can track dirt, pollen, or other pollutants into your house. Pet dander is part of the dust in many homes, so you can also reduce contaminants by bathing your pet often or having it groomed by a professional. An air purifier can catch any pollutants that your HVAC system’s air filter misses.

If you still see lots of dust, check your ductwork to see if it needs cleaning. Just remove one of your air registers and look into your ductwork. If you see mold or debris, or if you can wipe away dust or dirt with an old rag or a paper towel, you should have the ducts cleaned and inspected by a professional for leaks that could let pollutants into your HVAC system.

High Utility Bills

In addition to spreading dust through your home, a dirty air filter, leaks in your ductwork, or a clogged duct can force your HVAC system to work harder, wasting energy and money and shortening its life. Dirt, dust, mold and other pollutants can also damage the delicate parts of your heater and air conditioner. This makes your home less comfortable and your HVAC system less efficient. If you don’t improve your home’s indoor air quality and protect your heating and air conditioning system, you could have to pay for expensive repairs or even replace your system.

Also, high humidity in summer can make you feel hot and stuffy, and dry air in winter makes many people feel cold. With the right humidity levels, you won’t need to use your heating or air conditioning as much.

Pests

Excess moisture, dust, and other pollutants in homes attract silverfish, dust mites, mice, rats, roaches, and many other pests. Many people are allergic to them, and they can eat food, insulation, clothing, and more. If you hear scurrying sounds in your ductwork, have your system checked by a professional. If you have dust mites, wash your furniture and bedding often and use an air purifier to help remove these pests. Also, take out your trash every day so that it won’t attract more unwanted visitors.

Warm or Drafty Areas in Your Home

If your ductwork has leaks or if you have dirty ductwork or a dirty air filter, you could notice uncomfortable warm or drafty areas in your home. Without good airflow through your ductwork and your air registers, the rooms that are farthest from your indoor HVAC unit could feel hot in summer or cold in winter. If a few of your home’s rooms always seem too hot or too cold, have your system checked by a professional.

You could also need additional insulation in the rooms that feel uncomfortable. Small gaps in windows and underneath doors can let pollen and other outdoor pollutants into your home along with air that’s too warm or too cool.

Aqua Plumbing & Air has more than 40 years of experience, and we’re a Factory Authorized Carrier Dealer. We can help you install, maintain, and repair a variety of HVAC equipment and improve your home’s indoor air quality. Call us at 941-306-3715 for excellent service.

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