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Bad Air Day? Sources & Solutions to Poor Indoor Air Quality

How is the air quality in your home or office? Although everyone is aware of all the visible pollution outdoors from factories, vehicles, smog, and other waste, most people don’t think too much about the air quality in their homes. This is a classic example of out of sight, out of mind. We may not be able to see the pollution that we are breathing every day in our homes and offices, nevertheless, it is there and it is even worse than the air outside!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “indoor levels of pollutants may be 2 to 5 times – and occasionally more than 100 times – higher than outdoor pollutant levels.”

Considering the fact that we spend most of our time indoors (approximately 90%), it is extremely important to recognize the sources of poor indoor air quality and remedies for solving them. While most people know that outdoor air pollution can affect their health and cause respiratory problems, many are still unaware of the dangers of poor indoor air quality.

Let’s take a look at some of the causes of poor indoor air quality and what we can do to remedy the situation:

5 Pollution Sources of Poor Indoor Air Quality

1. Moisture & Dampness

Mold, dust mites, and bacteria require moisture to thrive and multiply. Any kind of water leaks from your plumbing or roof will cause moisture and mold problems, but there are many other sources of moisture in your home. Water can permeate through your home’s foundation and condensation can form on cold interior surfaces.

Solution: Dehumidifiers and humidifiers work with the home’s heating and cooling system to keep moisture levels balanced in every room. Make sure you have properly working vents and fans in your kitchen and bathroom for sufficient airflow to prevent moisture problems. The simple act of cooking or boiling water can release unwanted moisture and nitrogen dioxide. Additionally, if you have a moisture or leakage problem in your basement, it is recommended that you invest in a sump pump. If not, just make sure that you are frequently wet mopping and taking care of any moisture issues as they arrive. You can find out if you have any plumbing leaks by following the steps on smarthomewaterguide.org.

2. Volatile Organic Compounds

VOCs are released by products as diverse as: Furniture, Paint, Drywall, Bedding, Paint strippers, Adhesives/glues, Solvents, Upholstery and other textiles, Carpet, Cleaning products, Copy machine toners, Office supplies, Electronic equipment, Dry-cleaned clothing, Building materials, and more. For a full list of VOCs and how to minimize their impact on your IAQ, see epa.gov.

Solution: Air-purification systems attached to the furnace or air handler, where contaminants are removed and destroyed before air is recirculated into the home.

3. Animal Allergens

This includes pet dander, food, bug parts, and feces. In order to control the amount of animal pollution in your home, attack the source of the problem immediately. Take care of animal droppings and infestations immediately. Limit the amount of animals inside and prevent them from entering the bedroom. Clean the environment and your pet(s) frequently. Make sure you have adequate ventilation and remember to open the windows when you can.

Solution: Invest in an air filtration system to capture even the smallest contaminants and keep them from recirculating back into the home.

4. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and lethal gas. CO claims over 500 lives in the U.S. every year, which is why every home should have CO detectors installed throughout. CO is produced whenever a fuel (gas, oil, kerosene, wood, charcoal) is burned. Usually there is enough ventilation to disperse the poisonous gas safely, but whenever a fuel-burning appliance is used indoors, the risk for CO poisoning is high.

Solution: Install CO detectors throughout the home and NEVER operate a fuel-burning appliance in the home without proper ventilation. Check the following items for proper operation and ventilation: Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke (epa.gov).

5. Dirty Ducts and Dirty Filter

A dirty air duct system and filter are the causes of many indoor air quality problems.

Solution: We recommend scheduling a professional air duct cleaning every 7 years or so. In the meantime, however, you can do a little DIY cleaning with a wet cloth or sponge and a vacuum hose. Also, remember to change your air filter every 30 days and don’t even think about running your HVAC system without one! Click here for a guide to picking out the best air filter for your home. We recommend using HEPA filters, which are regulated by U.S. government standards that require removal of 99.97% of particles that have a size of 0.3 micrometers.

If you are still not convinced about the importance of having a clean and effective air filter, let Danny Lipford from Today’s Homeowner persuade you:

Ultraviolet Light Air Purification:

For an extra line of defense, we recommend installing UV germicidal lights. They install directly onto your indoor air purification system and kill bacteria and mold at the source, where it is most likely to develop.

  • Kills mold, fungus and harmful bacteria in their tracks so you can begin to breath easier again. You will feel the benefits immediately reduced allergy symptoms and asthma attacks.
  • Reduces energy consumption and costs.
  • Improves equipment operation with minimal maintenance.
  • Delivers cleaner, fresher air.
  • Eliminates foul odors caused by microbial growth on wet air conditioner coils.
  • Nontoxic and safe – no ozone.
  • Reduces equipment maintenance; no chemicals for coil cleaning.

For more information on improving your indoor air quality, see our other blogs:

Spring Cleaning Tips for Better Indoor Air Quality
Love and Pollutants are in the Air

Over the years, poor indoor air quality can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing. A dirty or improperly maintained HVAC system can be the cause of many of your IAQ problems, including carbon monoxide.

For more information on poor indoor air quality and what you can do to fix it, read the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality FAQ.


If you haven’t done so already, call Cassel Home Comfort at (217) 866-1596 or make an appointment online for your annual air conditioner tune-up.

Don’t forget to schedule your annual air conditioning tune-up for maximum air conditioning and cleaning efficiency.

If you feel like you are getting sick from your indoor air, call a doctor right away.
For more information on Indoor Air Quality, contact the IAQ experts at Cassel Home Comfort!

We’ll Get Your Castle Comfortable Again!

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