How to Measure Air Quality: 2024 Homeowners Guide

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorJune 3, 2024
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Did you know the air inside our homes can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air? This surprising statistic is especially concerning given that the average American spends about 90% of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can lead to allergies, respiratory problems, and can exacerbate existing conditions like asthma.

If you believe your home’s air quality is compromised – or you’re unsure – consider performing an air quality assessment to identify potential contaminants. In this guide, answers the question, how to measure air quality at home, and explores both DIY and professional methods homeowners can use. We’ll also provide helpful tips to improve the air quality based on the findings.

DIY Methods for Measuring Air Quality

Air Quality Monitors

An air quality monitor is a relatively inexpensive way to measure air pollution in your home. These devices, which cost about $50 to $300, can measure for common pollutants including particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, and more. They provide real-time data and alerts, allowing homeowners to quickly address any issues that are detected.

DIY Test Kits

DIY test kits are also available to test for specific pollutants like radon, mold, or VOCs. These kits typically include instructions and materials for collecting samples, which are sent to a lab for analysis. While not as comprehensive as professional testing, DIY kits can provide valuable insights if you believe your home contains specific contaminants.

Professional Air Quality Testing

Consider hiring a professional for air quality testing especially when a comprehensive assessment is needed, typically in cases of suspected mold, asbestos, or other hazardous contaminants.

Professionals use specialized equipment such as air quality monitors, particle counters, and sampling pumps to collect and analyze air samples throughout the home, providing accurate and detailed insights into pollutant levels and their sources.

An IAQ tester focuses on key areas of the house where indoor air quality issues are most likely to occur, such as bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and areas with HVAC systems.

Treatment Options for Improving Air Quality

If your DIY or professional air quality assessment uncovers potentially harmful contaminants, there are steps you can take to improve the air quality to help protect your family. Some of the most common include:

Air Filtration Systems

High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are highly effective at capturing airborne particles, including dust, pollen, and pet dander. Installing HEPA air purifiers or upgrading HVAC filters can significantly improve indoor air quality.

You can also consider installing portable or whole-house air purification systems to your HVAC system. While portable models focus on just one room or area of your home, whole-house models provide coverage for the entire home. They eliminate up to 99.97% of airborne particles including dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and bacteria for improved indoor air quality.

Ventilation Solutions

Poor ventilation can be a real problem in many homes. It can cause a buildup of indoor pollutants, increased humidity levels leading to mold growth, and inadequate circulation of fresh air, which can exacerbate respiratory problems and cause discomfort for occupants.

Installing exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms to remove pollutants generated during cooking or showering is a simple tip to improve the ventilations throughout your home. Additionally, mechanical ventilation systems can exchange stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air to help reduce pollution.

Humidity Control

When there’s too much moisture in the air, it can cause mold and other problems that affect your home’s air quality and your health. Dehumidifiers help by keeping humidity levels balanced, preventing mold and mildew growth. It’s best to aim for humidity levels below 50% in summer.

Meanwhile, humidifiers are handy during dry winter months, when indoor air lacks moisture. Dry air can be uncomfortable, causing issues like dry skin, irritated sinuses, and respiratory problems such as coughing or congestion.

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