Having allergies can be uncomfortable, but what if your home is adding to the problem?. The air that is circulating throughout the house should be as clean as possible. If your home is certified green, you are way ahead of the game. Your duct openings were sealed during the construction process. The air conditioning unit was properly sized to the home and proper filtration installed. If your home is not certified green by one of the recognized standards, there are things you can do to improve your indoor air quality. Cleaning your ductwork can range from $650 and up depending on the size of your home and the amount of ducts. Dirt and drywall plaster dust collects in the ductwork during construction, and then circulates around your home each time your AC comes on. If you ever notice that your home seems particularly dusty, this would be my first guess. Furthermore, as you live in a home more than 90% of all the dirt in the ducts will be skin cells. Ducts are dark and cool so it makes a perfect breeding ground for mold to grow if there is a food source. (i.e. skin cells)
There are two types of duct cleaning. One uses a rotary brush to scrub the inside of the ducts and push the dirt out. The other system uses a high velocity vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove the dirt and dust completely from all the cracks and potential nooks. Make sure the company cleaning the ducts also sanitizes the ducts after they are cleaned. This helps to prevent mold spores from settling and forming mold colonies.
Once your ductwork is cleaned you should assess your budget and see if you can afford to purchase an ultraviolet light, which is mounted in the duct right next to the condensation pan. In hot humid climates, these pans are reservoirs for mold colonies.
Mold, bacteria, and virus growth inside ductwork are the primary contributors to Sick Building Syndrome. The moisture and warmth found in around air conditioning coils and within ductwork create an excellent host environment for any number of bacteria and disease, most notably Legionella. The simple installation of an ultraviolet light can prevent a host of potential problems. The cost of a UV light system is around $650 but if you are doing the duct cleaning at the same time you can probably get a package deal.
Another area you will want to consider is if you are going to paint the rooms in your home. You will want to use a Low or No VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint. This paint will not “smell” or off-gas.
If you are using wallpaper or a wallpaper border make sure it is perforated wallpaper, which allows the walls to breathe and the paste to dry completely. Wallpaper is one of the biggest culprits for mold growth. It provides an ideal environment for mold to feed on past and grow behind the wallpaper. You will want to stay away from vinyl wallpaper (VOC’s are given off by the vinyl) and make sure the paste does not contain pesticides.
One last area you will want to look at is the floor. Depending on the type of flooring, it could be the cause of indoor air pollution. If you have carpet, you will want to check to see that it is a green label product. The pad must also be green label to prevent VOC’s. A better solution is to have wood or tile flooring which is easier to clean and reduces harmful bacteria.
Hopefully, after these steps you can breathe better and feel better about the air quality in your home.