Can Building Materials Affect Indoor Air Quality?

by Jess 9. August 2016 08:08

 

When you ask someone about air quality, odds are they’ll talk mainly about their outdoor environment and air pollution as it relates to that. However, the reality is that most of us are probably much more affected by indoor air quality. Indoor air quality measurements take into account both pollutants and thermal conditions that can affect the people within the building. There are tons of things that can affect indoor air quality, including cleaning products, pesticides, paints, tobacco products, appliances, office equipment, and, of course, all of the things that get tracked in from outside. But did you know that even the materials that make up the structure of your home could be reducing the quality of the air inside? It’s true.

Everything from carpet (and the adhesive it’s installed with) to plywood to insulation can pollute the air in your home. Many building materials release volatile organic compounds (or VOCs). Building materials can also create and/or harbor dust, dust mites, mold, pollen, etc. This can be a nightmare for someone with a respiratory condition like asthma. But even if you and your family don’t have chronic issues, you could still experience headaches, congestion, and eye/nose/throat/skin irritation.
 

 

Unfortunately, you can’t have a building without building materials, so what can you do to mitigate some of the risks? The answer is to ensure that your home has good ventilation. There are a few things to consider here. First, you need to maintain your HVAC system. Make sure that it is clean and running efficiently. That starts with clean filters. Regularly replacing your filters can significantly reduce the concentration of pollutants in the air inside your home.

You may also want to consider having your HVAC system professionally cleaned and serviced annually. If you don’t feel like filter changes alone are doing the job, you could look into a whole house air cleaner. These are generally incorporated right into your existing HVAC system and can remove particles as small as .003 microns from the air.

 

If a whole house air cleaner seems like a bit much or, perhaps, too expensive, you could also look into individual room air cleaners. These work much the same way as a whole house air cleaner, just on a smaller scale. There are many models to choose from in a wide range of prices. While they may not eliminate all pollutants, they can certainly reduce them in the rooms you spend the most time in, thereby significantly reducing the overall amount of indoor pollution you breathe in.

The truth is that virtually everything in your home is contributing to lowering the quality of the air around you. But you don’t have to be afraid to breathe. With a little research, a little maintenance, and maybe a small investment in an air cleaning system, you and your family can breathe easy.

Tags:

What is Hard Water and How Do You Fix It?

by Jess 29. June 2016 10:48

 

Hard water is water that contains dissolved solids such as calcium and magnesium. The reason that hard water can become an issue is that it can cause scale deposits, or mineral deposits, in pipes, water heaters, on bathroom fixtures, and even on your pots and pans. Fun fact: the term “hard water” actually originally referred to the fact that it was hard to wash in. Soap doesn’t lather well in it.

Some other things you might notice if your home has hard water are:

  • Itchy / Dry Skin
  • Dingy laundry
  • Dry / unmanageable hair
  • A bad taste and / or smell
  • Cloudiness in your water

No one wants to deal with all of that, so what can you do?

Well, if you’re concerned about your home water quality, you have some options; water treatment, for one. You can actually purchase a water softener. In addition to the cost of purchasing the water softener though, there are a couple of things to consider. According to Consumer Reports, for every 1,000 gallons of water processed, you’ll consume 15-120 additional gallons of water. If nothing else, you’ll see that on your water bill. You’ll also see a bump on your electric bill, due to the cost of running the softening unit.

If all that seems like a little too much, you can try treating the symptoms rather than the problem. For instance, white vinegar can help to remove build-up on surfaces and dishes. It can also be used to descale your coffee maker or dishwasher. You can buy soaps and shampoos that are formulated for use with hard water. An occasional rinse with an apple cider vinegar solution can help to reduce the build-up of products in your hair that may still occur. Check your laundry detergent for special instructions for use with hard water. And, finally, check your water heater’s owner’s manual for instructions on flushing it.

Hard water isn’t all bad though! There is some evidence that drinking hard water can actually reduce your risk for osteoporosis because of the calcium in the water. There was also a 2004 study in Finland that suggests that the minerals in hard water may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Even if those things are true though, it is probably ultimately better to take steps to mitigate the effects that hard water has on your home. You can descale your coffee maker all day long, but there isn’t much you can do about the deposits that build up in your pipes. That is a much costlier fix further down the line.

Tags:

Blog

Indoor Air Pollution: Is it Real?

by Jess 1. June 2016 09:08

 

 

Typically when we think about air pollution, we think of the air outside. We’ve heard about the various gases and particles created by cars, factories, etc., but did you know that the air inside your home could be polluted too? It’s true. The air you breathe inside your own home could actually be making you and your family sick.


 Indoor Pollutants

Some of the things thatcould be contributing to poor indoor air quality are more obvious than others. These are things like mold, smoke (both tobacco smoke and smoke from poorly vented fireplaces and cook stoves), and pesticides. Some less obvious pollutants are things like asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead that may be present in the building materials of older homes, radon (which enters from outside and can build up inside poorly ventilated homes), carbon monoxide from stoves and furnaces, common household products like cleaners, and VOCs (or volatile organic compounds.)

 

Causes of Indoor Air Pollution

Generally speaking the causes of indoor air pollution are lack of sufficient ventilation and proper filtration. Without those two things, pollutants like the ones mentioned above can build up and spread throughout an enclosed space like your home.

 

Risks of Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air quality can significantly impact your health in both the short and long term. Some symptoms like itchy eyes or throat, headaches and fatigue may affect some people immediately and can be worse if they are particularly sensitive or already ill. In the long term, exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause things as severe as heart disease and cancer. Some research suggests that the effects of some pollutants compound as exposure time increases, so it’s important to tackle the issue sooner than later.


 

 

How to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution

The first step to preventing indoor air pollution is to remove the source. This can be done through things like mold remediation, encapsulation or removal of lead and asbestos, use of low VOC products, and even simply adjusting settings on gas appliances to reduce emissions. The next step is to address ventilation issues. Typically, heating and cooling systems don’t pull outside air into your home. That means that if the air in your home is contaminated by pollutants, that air will just remain in your home and be circulated throughout unless you do something about it. This one is actually really simple. When weather permits, open your windows or doors and let fresh air in. Also, use the ventilation fans in your bathrooms and above your stove. This will allow fresh air in and polluted air out, reducing the concentration of pollutants in the air inside your home. The final step is to clean the air. One way of doing this is to invest in an air cleaner. These are small appliances that pull air in, trap contaminants, and release clean air. Another way, is just to make sure you maintain and regularly change the filters in your heating and cooling system. That simple step will reduce the spread of pollutants throughout your home and help to keep everyone inside healthier.

Tags:

4 Harmful Effects of Air Pollution

by Jess 27. April 2016 10:43

Everyone has heard the term ‘air pollution’ and, if asked, I’m sure everyone could tell you that it isn’t good. But what is considered air pollution? And what exactly does it do that makes it bad? Basically, air pollution is anything that we humans put into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on the environment. Some examples are greenhouse gases, – like carbon dioxide and methane – that are created when we burn fossil fuels, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, smog and smoke. Here are some of the harmful effects that those things can have on us and the world we live in:

 

1. Global Warming

This, of course, is the big one that we all hear about. Climate change occurs when the greenhouse gases mentioned above absorb sunlight and radiation reflected off of the earth’s surface causing a gradual increase in temperature. That rise in temperature doesn’t really seem all that significant in the short term, but if we don’t correct the problem, the long term effects will be devastating. Perhaps even to the point of mass extinction.

 

2. Acid Rain

Acid rain is also caused by gases and chemicals that are released into the atmosphere. Acid rain is any precipitation that is more acidic than what is considered normal. It can have negative effects on plants and animals, which can cause problems within ecosystems and food chains. But on a more practical level, acid rain can have negative effects on our infrastructure, causing it to age and fail more quickly than it would otherwise. Not only is that an inconvenience, but it’s an expensive problem to have to fix.

 

3. Ozone Depletion

The ozone layer is an atmospheric layer around Earth that is largely responsible for absorbing UV radiation before it reaches us here on the earth’s surface. However, air pollution is causing damage to that protective layer and allowing more and more UV radiation through. The effect that this can have on people is a very direct one; namely, increased rates of skin cancers and even cataracts.

 

4. Health Problems

Air pollution’s effects can be hard to wrap your head around on a large scale, but it can also hit very close to home. According to the CDC, air pollution can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It can exacerbate respiratory problems such as asthma in children and COPD in adults. New research, recently published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, even suggests that air pollution can contribute to increased risk of premature birth which carries with it a whole host of other potential issues.

 

Clearly air pollution is a major issue for all of us whether we have realized it before now or not. However, we are not doomed to suffer all of the effects forever. One major step that we can all take toward fixing our air pollution problem is reducing our carbon footprint. A few easy steps? Take mass transit or carpool when possible. Look into energy conservation within your home (improve insulation, unplug appliances not in use). Even decreasing the amount of meat we consume (livestock is a major contributor to methane pollution) can help. So do a little research and commit to some small changes that can have a major impact for all of us.

Tags:

5 Tips to Fight Allergy Season

by kkubik1@comcast.net 21. March 2016 08:04

 

Spring is practically upon us, and you know what that means… Allergies! That’s right, it’s allergy season. There will be sneezing, congestion, itchy, red, watery eyes, also picnics and sports, but it’s hard to enjoy those while in the midst of an allergy induced haze. So here are some things you can do to fight back this year.


1. Get Tested. 

One of the most effective ways to reduce allergy symptoms, is to find out what you’re actually allergic to. Is it pollen, grass, pet dander, dust? Go to the doctor and find out. Then, at least, you know what you’re trying to avoid. 
 

 

2. Clean Up.

Even if what you’re allergic to is outside (pollen, grass, etc.), keeping the inside of your house clean is important when it comes to avoiding allergy symptoms. Remember that things like pollen come in on your shoes, your clothes, even your dog. Spring cleaning is great, but setting a weekly cleaning schedule where you clean a room or two each day may be a good idea too. This will allow you to maintain a clean environment without spending tons of time doing it.



3. Change your air filter.

When you bring allergens into your home, one of the best ways to keep from continuously breathing them in is to make sure your hvac filter is clean. A clean filter will trap dust, pollen, dust mites and pet dander, making it a lot easier to breathe for allergy sufferers.

 

4. Get ahead of your allergies.

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to avoid allergies completely. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to suffering through them. Stock up on allergy medicines like antihistamines or nasal sprays and use them before your symptoms get out of control. Many people also find sinus rinses to be helpful, especially at combating congestion. Become friendly with the Neti Pot. It will make allergy season much more tolerable.
 

5. Try something different.

The pharmacy isn’t the only source for tools to fight your allergies. If the thought of taking a pill everyday doesn’t sound great, there are many other options. Local honey is thought to be helpful in building up immunity to the allergens in your area. Vitamin C and fish oils can help reduce congestion and inflammation. Even onions can help to reduce (believe it or not) itchy watery eyes. And if these things sound crazy, look at it this way, they can’t hurt to try.

 

Don’t let your allergies keep you from enjoying this spring. Try some or all of these tips and go out and seize the day.

 

Tags:

Spring Allergies... A humidifier Can Help?

by kkubik1@comcast.net 10. March 2015 14:53

 

As the season changes from Winter to Spring, most people who suffer from allergies think air cleaners.  But do you know that portable room humidifiers could be a great help too?


Many people who have allergies have learned to use a portable room humidifier during the spring and summer months when pollen and mold counts are at their annual high. The sinus cavity is easily inflamed when it becomes irritated from dry air.  Using a portable room humidifier helps sooth swollen sinus cavities, providing better breathing through the nose.

Keeping your humidifier clean is essential when helping to fight allergies.  Humidifiers need to be cleaned on a daily basis.  It is also recommended not to leave the water in the basin for more than a 24-hour period and once the filter or wick is discolored, you should replace it (usually about once a month if used continually).  You can see a variety of options available to you by going to http://www.filtersamerica.com/Departments/Portable-Room-Humidifier.aspx

Last thing to keep in mind is that at this time of year FiltersAmerica has most of the humidifier/wick filters and end of the season prices.

Tags:

Dry Air is on the Way

by Keith Kubik 19. August 2014 14:25

 

It is almost that time again… yes the Fall season.  Temperatures will start to creep down and we will have to turn back on the furnace which will bring back that dreaded dry air into your home.

Dry air is a problem for several reasons:  first, the effect it has on the interior of your home (plants, wood floors, paint the list goes on), next, it gives your home a stale feeling, then it causes dry noses and scratchy throats, and most importantly it causes your energy bills to rise.

So how do you make sure your home is ready to fight against dry air?  The best way to do this is to add moisture to maintain a comfortable level of humidity.  The best way to do this is with a humidifier. So what is a humidifier? It’s a household appliance which is used to increase the relative humidity level of the room or the entire home, depending upon the humidifier’s size and style. Besides size and style, air humidifiers also differ with respect to the method of humidification. Some induce moist warm air, similar to vaporizers, while others deliver cool air through a wicking process.

Humidifiers go a long way in making your home comfortable and healthier too. The same dry air that warms your home can set in motion various ailments like headaches, dry skin, coughing and sneezing, itchy eyes, and cracked lips.  Keep in mind that moist air feels warmer than dry air and thus you can set your thermostat lower which helps lower your energy bill!

A sure sign that you need to add moisture into your air, is static electricity. That zap of static electricity shock is telling you something. If you do not already have a humidifier, you should consider installing a central humidifier on your furnace or purchasing a portable room humidifier.

Room humidifiers are simple and affordable. These come in various models like tabletop and console, for humidifying one room or the entire area. As the name implies, portable humidifies can be re-located from one room to another as needed, for example to a bedroom at night. The device is simply plugged into an electrical outlet and water is added as needed manually.

With a humidity range of 45% - 65% in your rooms, your family can breathe easier and be ready to fight that dreaded dry air. FiltersAmerica offer a range of portable humidifiers to choose from so you can get the best fit for your needs.

Tags:

Spring Blooms With Allergies Gone Wild

by kkubik1@comcast.net 29. May 2014 13:40

So far this Spring is turning into a horrific allergy season.  Recently, I over heard people talking that had just gone hiking, and they mentioned that they thought they saw smoke in the woods... turned out to be the pollen coming off the pine trees on a windy day.  They could not believe it! 

What people don't seem to realize is that the same allergens can creep into you home.  They enter on your clothes, your pets, through window drafts and even when you open and close your doors.  So what can you do to combat these allergens entering your home?   The best way to get rid of these allergens is to use and air cleaner.  Whole House Air Cleaners are the most effective way to improve the quality of the air in your home while fighting off allergens.  Aprilaire is the industry leader and make a range of different units to choose from depending on your individual needs http://www.filtersamerica.com/Aprilaire/Whole-House-Air-Cleaners.

Another route you can go is if you only need to focus on a certain room in your home such as a bedroom would be a Portable Air Cleaner.  Honeywell makes a very effective and affordable unit that will certainly help http://www.filtersamerica.com/Honeywell/Portable-%28Room%29-Humidifiers.

When it is all said and done, there are some very simple and affordable solutions available to you so you do not have to suffer this Spring. 

Tags:

Fall Tips for Winter Comfort

by Dan Eaton 30. October 2013 14:24

 

Remember the first snow of 2012? Sure was pretty however many homeowners woke up with a dry scratchy throat from the dry air produced by the furnace. This dry air may also cause itchy eyes, nose bleeds, dry skin not to mention the static electricity shock and even cracked woodwork. It only gets worse as the heating season continues.  This is totally preventable by simply adding a whole house humidifier to your furnace system. FiltersAmerica.com is featuring the Aprilaire Brand of automatic humidifiers that keep your home within recommended relative humidity range of 35% - 55%. Set it and forget it! No more filling and lugging around water tanks for room humidifiers. Whole house humidifiers saves energy and lowers your heating bills by providing an increase to “apparent temperature”. With the added humidity, you can lower the thermostat and still feel warmer.

FiltersAmerica.com offers several popular Aprilaire models to choose from that work well in houses all the way up to 4,200 square feet of living space.  These computerized models with outside sensors and digital controls automatically adjust for maximum efficiency. Make it a week-end do-it-yourself or hire an installer, Aprilaire Automatic humidifiers are awesome. Quiet, efficient and reliable they are a valuable addition to your heating system. Learn more about the Aprilaire Humidifier at FiltersAmerica.com.

If you already have an Aprilaire humidifier, FiltersAmerica.com has the tune-up parts to keep them running as efficient as when it was installed. From evaporator water panels to replacement parts, FiltersAmerica.com has it all. FiltersAmerica provides great values and delivers products to your doorstep, even on Saturdays.

FiltersAmerica.com with its warehouse and distribution facility located in Huntley, Illinois, delivers all types of indoor air quality products such as high efficiency furnace and air conditioning filters, Hepa air cleaner filters and humidifier evaporator panels directly to the consumer.  FiltersAmerica buys in high volume, passing down the savings to the consumer, including many hard-to-find air filters including great prices on refrigerator water filters.  FiltersAmerica.com was founded in 2001 by a team of HVAC experts with a goal to deliver the convenience high quality products to consumers doorsteps at factory direct pricing.

We put our combined 60 years of HVAC expertise into educating consumers on getting the best quality air in their home.  Whether fighting allergens, mold, dust or simply looking to improve the overall quality of their home's air, FiltersAmerica.com shows homeowners the best way to improve indoor air quality.  You can see what it’s all about at http://www.FiltersAmerica.com.

Tags: ,

Heading Back to the Campus Dorm? Keep your mind fresh with clean and comfortable air in your dorm room.

by Dan Eaton 5. August 2013 08:00

The heating systems in campus residence halls can be much different than what you're used to at home. Many have a central boiler where hot water is circulated through radiators in the rooms. Heaters have a tendency to dry out the air leaving you with a dry scratchy throat. There is a simple cure that you should pack with your back to school supplies and that is a room humidifierThese simple to use appliances offer night time relief so you can get a good nights sleep to wake ready and refreshed. FiltersAmerica.com offers the best values on room humidifiers. Manufactured by Honeywell they offer both cool moisture and Quicksteam models that are reliable, quiet and easy to maintain. If you don’t already have one, come January you’ll be glad that you did.

Some dormitory heating systems do not have method to filter the air. If this is the case for you, you should also consider a room air cleaner.   FiltersAmerica offer two models that are perfect for the dorm room. The first is the Holmes Allergen Remover and the other is the Honeywell HEPAClean Tabletop Air Purifier. Both the models are perfect for smaller rooms and reduces airborne dust, smoke, pollen and other allergens.

There is much on your mind in preparing for school, however these two simple appliances can improve your indoor air quality your entire term so you can breathe a little easier and study a little harder.

Tags:

Month List

Page List