St. Cloud-Area Indoor Air Quality Services
When we say 'air pollution,' you probably imagine a smokestack belching out chemicals or a car exhaust spitting out dark smoke. But, according to the EPA, this picture isn't wholly accurate. You'd have been closer to the truth if you'd imagined a suburban home surrounded by a white picket fence. You see, the air inside the average American home is actually 5-10 times more polluted than what's outside. Guessing you're safe in St. Cloud? Think again.
If you're ready to clean up your air, call Augusta Plumbing & Heating and ask about our indoor air quality (IAQ) services in the St. Cloud area. For more information on solutions to the problem, read the information below.
The Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
You're probably wondering, "Where do these toxins come from, and how are they getting into my home?" Radioactive radon seeping in from the soil, smoke from old cigarettes, off-gassing from fire retardant materials, and cleaning product vapors are just a few causes of indoor air pollution. Dust mites, mold, viruses, pet dander, and mildew also play a part. As homes become more energy-efficient and changing lifestyles lead many of us to spend more time indoors, poor air quality has become a public health crisis.
The Numbers Make the Case for IAQ Services
Indoor air quality is a big problem in the 21st century both here and abroad. As homes become better sealed against the elements, the importance of having clean air increases. Without you even knowing, your air duct system could be contaminated with particulates that are harmful to you and your family. Each time the HVAC system turns on, it can circulate dust, dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and bacteria throughout the air inside your home. Below are a few statistics that help drive home the seriousness of the IAQ crisis:
- The EPA estimates we spend 90% of our time indoors.
- 3,500 non-smokers die of lung cancer each year after being exposed to residual smoke particles.
- A study from the EPA identified over 500 noxious substances in 10 public buildings in 1988. That problem has only gotten worse.
- The IHME estimates that poor indoor air quality causes 1.6 million premature deaths per year.
- The air inside the average home can be up to 100% more polluted than the air outside.
- Indoor air pollution is cited as one of the "Top 5 Risks to Public Health."
The Benefits of Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
By selecting Augusta Plumbing & Heating to combat your air pollution problems, you and your family will reap a variety of benefits:
- Better Sleep: By eliminating root causes of respiratory irritation—which can lead to snoring—our IAQ experts will help you sleep easier and wake better rested.
- Cleaner Indoor Air: If you're tired of smelling the cigarette your aunt smoked in the kitchen 20 years ago installing one of our products can help. Call us and kiss those musty odors, chemical smells, and lingering stenches goodbye.
- Fewer Allergy Symptoms: Conditions like asthma and emphysema can be compounded by the presence of mold in your home's HVAC systems. Installing a humidifier or air purifier can help remove pet danger and artificial fragrances from the air, giving you and your family relief from cold and allergy symptoms.
Signs You May Have an Air Quality Problem
- Frequent runny noses or allergy symptoms
- Inefficient heating and AC systems
- You or others smoking in your home
- The presence of shedding pets
- Visible signs of mold or mildew
- The presence of anyone in your home has a weakened immune system
- Dust clinging to your vents and registers
- Stale or stuffy air
- When you're buying a home or building one
- Nose or skin irritation
- Headaches, nausea, or chronic fatigue
- Stubborn odors that don't go away
Our St. Cloud-Area IAQ Solutions
Air Quality Testing
How do you know what services you'll need if you don't set a baseline? Our comprehensive air quality tests check your air for pollutants, VOCs, and humidity issues. Taking only 30 minutes or so, they're a great option for people already getting work done by our HVAC experts.
Scheduling an air quality test will:
- Pinpoint what's causing your home's IAQ issues
- Illustrate the need for air quality services
Air that's too wet is not good for you. Bacteria, mold, and viruses thrive in environments above 60 percent humidity. The high humidity also enables these contaminants to stick around longer and cling to your household's porous services. In the summer, excess humidity leaves you feeling sticky and hot. Dehumidifiers installed in your system expel excess moisture from your home and help you feel cooler at higher temperatures.
Incorporating a dehumidifier into your existing HVAC system in Sartell will:
- Reduce energy costs
- Decrease the dampness in your home
- Make summer less sticky
- Improve overall comfort
- Help fight bacteria, dust, and mold
High Efficiency Filters
Looking for a way to keep your family healthy? The only filter that can capture something as small as a virus is a HEPA filter. While typically found in hospitals, residential home HEPA filters are available. However, HEPA filters restrict air flow, and cannot go directly in the return air stream back to the furnace. Instead, HEPA filters are installed in a 'bypass' loop in the return air ductwork. With each pass, some of the air is shunted into the bypass and is pulled through the HEPA filter by a separate fan in the HEPA unit before returning to the main air stream. This way the furnace fan motor always has adequate airflow and eventually all the air is purified by the HEPA filter. For more information on how these filters are a smart buy, reach out to us at Augusta Plumbing & Heating.
High Efficiency Filters can help with:
- Pet dander
Healthy air has humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent. A home that's too dry deprives your nose and body of protective mucus layers and enables germs to travel farther. It also aggravates your throat and nose leading to allergy problems. Humidifiers—of which there are three main kinds—bring water into your home's air to solve these problems. Letting Augusta Plumbing & Heating install a whole-home humidifier will mean more comfortable living for you and your family.
Installing a humidifier in the St. Cloud area can:
- Increase the moisture in your air
- Reduce static electricity
- Help you feel warmer in the winter time
- Protect your wooden furniture from dry rot
- Lower heating costs
- Calm overly active allergies
UV Germicidal Lights
With a UVC Air Purifier (also called an Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) air purifier) we harness the sun's power to kill and put it in your ductwork. Per the EPA, 'UVGI air cleaners are designed to use UV lamps to kill or deactivate microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and fungal spores and fragments that are airborne or growing on surfaces.'
Typically, the application for killing microorganisms growing on surfaces is to keep the air conditioning coil above the furnace clean. (The dark and wet area is a perfect breeding ground for biological growth.) However, if the purpose is to kill microorganisms in the air, the UVC Air Purifier is placed in the return air so that the air first passes through the UV kill zone before going through the filter or air cleaner.
Installing Germicidal lights in your ductwork will:
- Reduce the number of germs in your home
- Decrease your electricity costs
- Make it easier to disinfect the air and surfaces in your home
Air purifiers work by removing allergens, toxins, and pollutants from your air. Unlike humidifiers, they don't emit anything and, to the uninformed, look like a heavier filtration system. While the Dyson air purifier may be sufficient for one or two rooms in your house, you'll need a whole-house air purification system. Please note that these products require a forced-air system to operate effectively.
Having Augusta Plumbing & Heating install an air purifier for you in the St. Cloud area will lead to:
- Fewer lingering odors
- Cleaner and healthier air
- Longer periods between filter changes
The desire to leak-proof our home and seal up old ducts has compounded our air quality issues. Many modern IAQ issues could actually be fixed by bringing fresh air in. That's where air exchangers (aka ventilators) come in. They use one fan system to blow indoor air out and another to pull outside air in. This stops pollutants from overstaying their welcome and alleviates many of the symptoms of "Sick Building Syndrome."
Air exchangers offer the following benefits to people in the Sartell area:
- Reduced heating and AC costs
- Allergy expulsion
- Improvements to overall air quality
If you've ever installed any IAQ equipment in the past, we also offer comprehensive maintenance and repair services. If you have a filter or humidity control system that's not working right, give us a call at (320) 237-4219, so we can try and suss out the problem.
Indoor Air Quality FAQs
Do Humidity Levels REALLY Affect My Indoor Air Quality?
Yes, they do. Homes with exceedingly high humidity levels end up with mold, dust mites, and mildew. Houses with humidity that's too low, meanwhile, experience dust and recurring sinus issues. Cementing your home's humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent lands you in the "Goldilocks Zone."
Why Should I Care About My Home's Air Quality?
Studies show that air in your home is likely more polluted than the air outside. No matter how tidy your house is, your air will still be filled with pollen, viruses, dust, and pet dander. Only installing an air sanitizer or UV germicidal lights in your HVAC system can truly expel these contaminants.
What Are the Most Common Air Pollutants?
The most frequently found contaminants in your home are relatively harmless. They include pollen, fabric fibers, dust, pet dander, and other common household particles.
What Type of Furnace Filter Should I Use In My Home?
Start by determining how thick of a filter your system can accommodate. Most HVAC systems can't accommodate filters that are more than an inch thick. We recommend using only filters with a particle removal rating of MERV 11 or higher. This is especially important if anyone in your home suffers from respiratory or cardiac disease.
What's "Sick Building" Syndrome?
If you've done any research on IAQ, you've probably seen references to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This term comes from a study where public workers in one building reported headaches, fatigue, nausea, nose irritation, and watery eyes. Researchers examined this building and found it to have a lot of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. This case gave birth to the term and is now used as a diagnosis for someone who experiences air pollution symptoms at work and notices an immediate improvement upon returning home.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Improve My Own Indoor Air Quality?
We recommend homeowners that are concerned with the quality of the air they breathe take the following steps:
- Purchasing a HEPA filter
- Vacuum, mop, and dust regularly to avoid airborne pollutants
- Choose natural woods and finishings for your home that doesn't come with VOCs and nasty vapors
- Open your windows and air your home out from time to time
- Install a thermostat that includes humidity readings
We're Your St. Cloud Indoor Air Quality Service Specialists
At Augusta Plumbing & Heating, we've been helping homeowners with their IAQ problems since 2007. We will take the time to explain possible solutions and outline the costs ahead of time. Our HVAC company stands firmly behind any products we sell and are always willing to come back and investigate if air pollution issues recur. We service St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, and the surrounding communities. Therefore, when you're looking for an 'IAQ company near me,' you know you've come to the right place. Please reach out to us at (320) 237-4219 today to schedule an air quality test or to pencil in an humidifier installation.