indoor-air quality (IAQ)

IAQ – Indoor Air Quality

Fall IAQ Concerns: Pumpkins, Candles, and More

Fall IAQ_iStock-1026406848.jpg

Some day soon that bridge of high pressure that's been driving the extremely hot weather in the Southwest will break up and we'll start feeling some relief in Broken Arrow with cooler fall temperatures.

As the weather cools, we think about Halloween and fall harvest parties. Perhaps you enjoy enhancing the autumn ambiance by burning candles in carved pumpkins or by simmering clove-scented potpourri.

Some people find the airborne pollutants these items give off harmless, but others may suffer irritating symptoms, such as burning eyes, coughing and runny nose. What's more, closing up the house for cooler fall weather can trap these pollutants and worsen symptoms.

Read on for some information about dealing with fall IAQ concerns.

Fall IAQ Concerns

Candles. Candles may look pretty and add entrancing fall ambiance to your home, but depending on the type you burn, they can give off a lot of pollutants. Soy and beeswax candles are less harmful, while paraffin, which is petroleum based, gives off the most harmful pollutants. Also, these airborne pollutants, which include soot and volatile organic compounds (a product of off gassing), can dirty your air filter so that you have to change it more often.

Potpourri. The fact is, no matter how good or bad the fragrance, potpourri gives off VOCs, so may adversely affect allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments.

Air fresheners. Just as with any scent-producing devices, these give off VOCs and can be harmful to those who are sensitive to them.

Fire logs. Artificial fire logs give off fewer emissions than wood, but are made from sawdust, cellulose and wax. They provide some ambiance for the home but give off less heat than wood.

Reducing VOCs and Other Pollutants

Obviously, the best way to reduce airborne pollutants in the home is to eliminate them. If you're not willing to do that, use a good quality air filter in your HVAC system. Exhaust ventilation to the outdoors and an air purifier with activated charcoal filter may also help.

For more on fall IAQ concerns, contact Air Assurance. We serve Broken Arrow and the surrounding area.

Air filters

Types of Air Filters

You need to change your HVAC system's air filter regularly to keep your air clean and your system functioning efficiently. Do you know what kind of filter you need? Here's a brief guide to different types of air filters and how they work.

Fiberglass

The cheapest and most basic type of air filter, fiberglass filters are the lowest rated ones on the MERV scale. They can capture and remove large dust particles, but things like mold, pollen, and other allergens remain in your air.

Pleated

Made of cotton fabric and folded into pleats like a curtain, these filters are designed to remove smaller particles from the air, such as dust mites and pet dander. The more pleats the filter has, the better airflow it allows through it, and the more efficiently your HVAC system can heat or cool your home.

Electrostatic

Rather than simply creating a barrier to trap allergens and contaminants, this one actually generates an electrostatic charge, which attracts contaminants to it. They stick to the filter, while the clean air passes through. Electrostatic filters can remove things like mold, mildew, bacteria, and even cigarette smoke, which makes them ideal for allergy and asthma sufferers.

HEPA

High Efficiency Particulate Air filters. Designed for medical uses and laboratory clean rooms, these filters can remove 99.97 percent of impurities from the air, down to 0.3 microns. That includes viruses, sea salt, milled flour, and more. Unfortunately, these filters are too thick to fit into a regular HVAC system without damaging it. If you want extra air protection, you'll need to invest in a separate air purifier for your home, that's designed for the HEPA filter.

Washable

There are two types of air filters that are washable. Some cloth filters can be washed regularly instead of replaced. More common, though, are washable electrostatic filters. Washable filters last three to five years, making them much more practical than the expensive disposable ones, which must be replaced every few months.

To learn more about different types of air filters, contact us at Air Assurance. We proudly serve all of Broken Arrow's HVAC needs.

IAQ – Indoor Air Quality

Allergies Are Out of Control in Tulsa: Here's One Solution

Allergies Are Out of Control in Tulsa: Here's One Solution

Allergies Are Out of Control in Tulsa: Here's One Solution

Are you or someone in your household suffering from allergies? If so, then you may be familiar with the multitude of indoor airborne contaminants and allergens that arouse common allergy symptoms of sneezing, watery and itchy eyes and worse in allergy sufferers. You may also have heard that HEPA filtration is one of the leading solutions for an effective indoor-air quality (IAQ) strategy. But, do you know what HEPA filtration is?Understanding HEPA filtrationHEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters are the most efficient filters for capturing airborne contaminants, including biological contaminants and particulates. HEPA filtration systems are most common in commercial buildings, hospitals and places where very clean air are a high priority. However, residential HEPA filtration systems are gaining in popularity.A whole-house HEPA filtration system is installed in the duct system by your HVAC contractor. It is a thick media filter composed of a web-like configuration of fibers which alter the path of airborne contaminants and capture them by impaction. A HEPA filter is 99.97 percent efficient of removing particulates and biological contaminants down to 0.3 microns in size.The MERV number of an air filter determines if it qualifies as a HEPA-grade filter. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. The MERV scale spans MERV 1-20, with MERV 20 signifying the most efficient media filter available. HEPA filters are rated MERV 17-20.HEPA limitationsHEPA filters aren't for every HVAC system. HEPA filters create a significant pressure drop across the blower, due to their thick size and resistance to airflow. Your HVAC contractor needs to inspect your heating and cooling equipment to make sure it has the power to pull airflow through a HEPA filtration system.Another consideration for controlling allergies in your Tulsa home is using an air filter with slightly lower MERV ratings. MERV 9-16 filters are more than adequate, and capture the following common allergens and contaminants:

  • Mold, pollen and dust mites

  • Pet dander

  • Auto emissions

  • Legionella

  • Tobacco smoke and more

Contact Air Assurance if allergies are a concern in your Tulsa home, and you're ready to do something about it.Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Image courtesy of Shutterstock