Even though the outdoor environments are considered highly polluted, the air inside your home is significantly polluted as well. With studies showing that most people spend up to 90% of their days at home indoors, homeowners should be concerned about the state of their indoor environment.
A highly toxic indoor environment characterized by poor indoor air quality significantly affects your health and wellness. Fortunately, you can create a low-toxin environment for your family, friends, and furry friends using these several easy home improvement projects.
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1. Clean and Change Your AC Filter
While this might not be a significant home improvement project for most homeowners, HVAC maintenance, primarily cleaning and changing your air filter home, can drastically improve indoor air quality. Air filters play a significant role in trapping dust, volatile organic compounds, germs, and other pollutants in the air circulating in your house.
Over time, the trapped air pollutants accumulate on the filter, preventing it from functioning optimally. Poorly functioning air filters affect your indoor air quality and wear down the air conditioner. Start by cleaning replaceable air filters or replacing single-use filters. Typically, you should change air filters between 30 and 90 days, depending on the quality of filters used.
Inspect the system and remove any dirt, dust, debris, and other contaminants accumulating in the unit. You should also ensure that the furnace lights with a blue flame instead of yellow or orange. Blue light shows signs of clean combustion in the furnace, reducing the risks of increased carbon monoxide production.
As you inspect the HVAC system, ensure that there is no accumulating water or moisture in the ducts and other components. If you find some, you should call a professional to check for possible repairs.
2. Upgrade Your Bathroom Vent Fans
Upgrading bathroom vent fans is another excellent way of improving the indoor environment for various reasons. A properly functional bathroom fan eliminates trapped moisture and humidity in the bathroom environment. As you may know, high humidity or moisture levels in the air promote mold and mildew growth.
Removing excessive moisture from your bathroom improves indoor air quality and reduces the risks of mold growth. However, ensure that the vented fan is positioned to face the exterior part of your house and not indoor spaces. Apart from the vented fan, you should also keep your windows open to ensure that maximum moisture is removed from your home.
3. Install Smart Thermostats to Track Humidity and Improve Air Flow
Unknown to most homeowners, humidity significantly influences the health of their indoor environments. Indoor humidity describes the amount of moisture in indoor air. Ensuring that your indoor humidity remains at optimal levels, between 35% and 40%, assures a healthy indoor environment. This ideal level is not only best for human health but also reduces the chances of mold and mildew growth.
Unfortunately, most homeowners ignore even the most basic telltale signs of high humidity in their homes. Key indicators of rising humidity levels include condensation on doors and windows, musty odor, especially in the basement, signs of water damage, mold/mildew spots on the wall or floor, and accumulating moisture on the foundation’s walls.
While you can adopt several measures to track indoor humidity, smart thermostats are the best. Smart thermostats have sensors that continuously monitor and notify homeowners about their indoor humidity.
4. Reseal Grout and Caulking
Resealing grout and caulking is another less than glamorous home improvement project that most homeowners often ignore. These inexpensive procedures are effective in preventing serious indoor air quality issues. Grout and caulking around the tubs, sinks, toilets, and showers should ideally protect these porous surfaces from water penetration.
However, they become loose or start deteriorating over time, exposing the porous surfaces to water. If water is trapped and starts sitting around the grout and caulking for long, the surfaces become damp, promoting mold growth. Growing mold releases spores that degrade indoor air quality and predispose occupants to several respiratory issues. Replacing grout and caulking regularly can prevent mold growth in these areas.
5. Use Cooking Vents
Gasses released in the kitchen also significantly impact indoor air quality. For instance, running gas stoves produce carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other harmful gasses. Modern electric burners and cookers also produce air pollutants at low levels. These gasses can easily pass through to the bloodstream, causing several health issues.
Before cooking, ensure that you open your windows or switch on the kitchen vents to circulate indoor air. If you primarily use kitchen vents to filter indoor air, you should clean them regularly, especially if you cook frequently. Busy kitchens should clean their vents after one or two months.
6. Build an Indoor Garden Box
Most people use air fresheners to eliminate odors in their living rooms and the musty smell of basements. Unfortunately, air fresheners don’t clean indoor air but instead pollute indoor air. While you can use several natural ways to purify indoor air, building an indoor garden box with houseplants is an excellent option.
7. Create a Mudroom
Most modern homes have designated spaces, called mudrooms, for occupants and visitors to drop everything they were carrying around before getting in. Mudrooms allow homeowners and other occupants to leave their shoes or boots to avoid tracking throughout the house.
Shoes worn all day to public offices, stores, public restrooms, schools, parks with treated grass, and other public areas collect chemicals, germs, bacteria, and other toxins. If you get into the house with these shoes, all contaminants in the shows will be trapped by your rugs and carpets, making them difficult to remove, especially once they get into the air and travel through HVAC ducts to different rooms. Creating a mudroom with ample space for shoe shelves and hooks for purses and coats prevents these occurrences.
Even though most home improvement projects focus on improving the quality and value of homes, homeowners should also consider improvement projects that improve indoor air quality. If you spend a lot of time indoors, you should be concerned about the quality of the air you and other occupants breathe. Poor indoor air quality can lead to several short and long-term health issues.