We should always be concerned about our indoor air quality (IAQ) since we are surrounded 90 percent by air. With good air quality, we can ensure that we live a healthy life, free of respiratory problems, fatigue, and headaches. That being said, unless you live on a remote mountain far away from civilization, you will likely be exposed to bad air.
Sadly, only about 0.001 percent of the population enjoys the benefits of clean air without even trying. Others need to bend over backward to ensure that their air is clean enough to breathe. Indoor air is also 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air, which means you have to be extra careful. This is why you need to conduct a test of your indoor air quality, to see at what level you are.
Signs You Should Test Your Indoor Air Quality
If your home needs to have its air quality checked, you will likely notice the surrounding signs. Here are the most common signs of bad air.
You Notice More Health Issues
If the surrounding air is qualitative, it should help with your health levels. There is a reason why people living in the countryside are much healthier. As they are not exposed to the air pollutants of a busy city, they are less likely to breathe harmful contaminants. That being said, no matter where you live, you are still exposed to the omnipresent “suspects”: dirt and humidity.
If you notice that you are no longer breathing right, especially when you are at home, it might be a sign that you have to do an air quality check. This can include respiratory problems such as asthma, allergies, or persistent cold coughs. See if anyone in the family has persistent fatigue, headaches, or irritations caused by mysterious sources. It might also be a sign that you need to do an air quality check.
There’s Mold and Mildew
If you notice visible mold and mildew growth inside your home, you may be dealing with poor air quality. Neither of the two grows unless it has a thriving environment (i.e., moist air).
Mold will very often grow in areas with poor ventilation. Check in the corners of the room, behind the furniture, and other areas of your home. Usually, mold will develop on the walls and ceilings, but may also expand to furniture. Keep an eye out for dark spots on your walls.
You Notice Unpleasant Odors
If you continuously notice unpleasant odors the moment you step inside a room, you may be dealing with bad air quality. Mold, mildew, and other contaminants can release odors in the house, which are especially pungent in poorly ventilated rooms.
Unless the air is cleaned or the source removed, you will keep noticing these smells on a regular basis. Look for the source in hidden areas, such as your ducts or even behind the furniture. If you always crinkle your nose each time you step inside the house, you may have an indoor air quality problem.
There Is Dust Buildup
No matter where you live, you will always have dust in your home. The problems appear when the dust starts layering faster than it should. For the most part, you will see dust gather in about 48 hours if you live in the countryside, and 24 hours if you live in the city.
The cleaner the air, the more it will take for dust to show on your furniture. If 24 hours have barely passed, and you are already seeing dust, it means you have a problem with the air quality. You may want to take a test to check its allergic nature and come up with a solution.
You Have Excess Humidity
If you feel like the surrounding air has unnaturally high excess humidity levels, you may want to get your IAQ tested. Look for the signs first, which may include foggy windows along with heavy yet warm-feeling air around you. You may also notice that your hair is frizzy or difficult to control, your hands are always clammy, and your nose is runny all the time.
You should also look for peeling paint on your walls or floors that are cracking excessively. If this happens, there is a good chance your home is holding too much humidity. Wet stains on your walls may also suggest that you have a problem somewhere.
Excess humidity levels put you at a high risk of developing mold and mildew inside your home, so you need an air quality air test to determine exactly what your indoor humidity level is. Ideally, it should be somewhere between 30 and 50 percent. Anything below or above that level can cause discomfort.
Methods to Test Indoor Air Quality
There are several ways for you to check whether your air quality is good or not. The first method is to look for the signs. However, if you want facts and certainty, you need to test the air and you can do that through the following methods:
Get an At-Home Test
Nowadays, it is effortless to get an at-home test and take the samples yourself. Depending on the test that you get, you may check for the results at home, as some will turn a certain color if a specific contaminant is present. These are not always very accurate, as they may not test for the contaminant that you are dealing with.
Other at-home tests are collected by the owner and sent to a lab for the results. These have the potential of being more accurate, as their gear may catch more than you can. This way, you will be able to get a better idea of what is going on in your home.
Hire Professional Testing Services
Air is tricky to test, not only because you need to use the right gear, but also because you need to collect the samples from all the right places. At-home tests can give you a good idea of what you’re dealing with, but may not be as accurate as a test done by a pro. Not only will they have the right gear, but they will also know exactly where you should swab for samples.
Aside from the actual testing and analysis, they may also provide recommendations on how to improve your air quality. Each contaminant may have its own thriving environment, and the pros can tell you exactly how to prevent that situation from happening again.
Preventive Measures for Good Indoor Air Quality
Air quality is usually as good as you keep it. There are certain ways for you to ensure your indoor air quality remains as clean as possible. So, whether you’ve had problems with bad air before or not, here are some steps that you should follow:
Control Your Indoor Humidity
Humidity is one of the main culprits for bad indoor air quality. This is why you may want to control your indoor humidity levels using a humidity gauge. Check that your humidity is somewhere between 20 and 50 percent, with the perfect point around 40 percent.
If the humidity levels are too low, consider getting a vaporizer or a humidifier. This will add extra humidity to the air, preventing it from feeling uncomfortably dry. On the other hand, if there is too much humidity in the air, you should consider opening your windows or buying a dehumidifier.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Areas that get high levels of moisture have the greatest danger of bad IAQ levels. This can include areas such as your bathroom, your kitchen, and even your basement. Consider installing fans in these problem areas, as they can help circulate the bad air and take out the humidity.
When taking a shower, you may want to turn the fans on, leaving them on for about 20 minutes after you are done. The same applies to when you are cooking with steam in your kitchen. By ventilating efficiently, you should reduce the chance of pollutant accumulation or mold growth.
If you do not have fans in your home, you can use the old open-window strategy. A good tip here would be to open all windows at the same time, keeping the doors to the rooms open as well. Don’t just open one window at a time; let the air flow through all of them. This will help replace the bad, stale air that can be found indoors with better air outdoors.
Get an Air Purifier
Air purifiers such as the Airfree models are a great way to ensure your home stays free of potential contaminants. Using special technology, they draw the air inside, filter it, and then release it cleaner into the air. This way, they can remove allergens, bacteria, viruses, pollutants, and various other contaminants.
Air purifiers come in many forms, and models such as the Airfree Babyair are completely silent. Make sure that you get an air purifier with the appropriate coverage. For instance, if you need it for a small room, the Airfree T is a great choice. However, if you need something for a bigger area, units such as the Airfree Lotus may be more appropriate.
Have you noticed how you always seem to be in a great mood and breathe much easier after you clean your house? Dust can easily accumulate in a house, and each time you walk around, you send those particles back up in the air. This can lead to various conditions such as allergies, asthma, and many more.
This is why you need to regularly clean your home, to reduce the presence of contaminants. Vacuum frequently, dust your furniture, and air your fabrics regularly. Make sure to clean the vents and air ducts as well, as most of the dust will gather there. If you don’t, then all that dust will come back into your home the minute you turn the vents on.
The Bottom Line
In the end, it is always a good idea to pay attention to the signs of poor air quality. This can help determine whether you need to test the air or not. If you have health issues or unexplained odor or mold inside your home, your air quality test may tell you exactly what you are dealing with.
For the time being, make sure to implement preventive measures, to keep the air clean. Ensure proper ventilation, control humidity levels, clean your home regularly, and use air purifiers. And if you think that the air in your home has been compromised, you may want to get your hands on an at-home testing kit or call a professional.
Air Quality FAQ
How can I tell if I have poor indoor air quality?
You can tell if you have poor indoor air quality if you notice one or more of the following signs: respiratory issues, visible growth of mold and mildew, persistent odors, and excess humidity.
What is the ideal humidity level for proper air quality?
For your air to remain clean, you need to ensure proper humidity levels. Ideally, these should be between 30 and 50 percent.
Are at-home testing kits accurate when determining air quality?
At-home testing kits are excellent at giving you an average idea of your air quality. However, if you want precise numbers, you should get a professional test instead as they are much more accurate.
Are there any good ways for me to improve my indoor air quality?
You should be able to improve your indoor air quality by ventilating properly, controlling your humidity levels, getting an air purifier, and cleaning your home regularly.
When should I consider getting a pro to test my air quality?
If you’ve purchased at-home kits and you’re still struggling to keep your home air clean, you may want to get a pro to test your indoor air quality. They can do a thorough assessment and catch the things that you or your home kit may have otherwise missed.