Why Is Indoor Air Quality Worse Than Outdoor?

Understand Your Indoor Air

Many people are unaware that indoor air is likely far more polluted than outdoor air. Why does this happen, and what can be done to prevent it? We’ve created a helpful graphic that outlines the reasons indoor air pollution occurs, and what you can do about it.

If you care about the quality of your home’s indoor air (and you should, as most people spend about 80-90% of their time indoors–much of that at home), then you’ll want to check out this information below.

Indoor Air Quality Versus Outdoor

Dependable Air Conditioning Services in Anaheim

At McMaster Heating and Air Conditioning, we offer the very best value in A/C repair, maintenance, installation, and replacement. We are proud to take a “whole-home” approach to home cooling and believe that the entire house must be taken into consideration to achieve maximum comfort, efficiency, and optimal functioning of your HVAC system. We’ve been serving the Anaheim area for over 20 years and are considered the area’s top value in heating and cooling services. Call us today to learn more 949-441-5611.

 

IAQ in Lake Forest, California: What You Need to Know

When most people think about air pollution, they consider the outdoors. However, the reality is that outdoor pollutants can make their way into your home and impact your indoor air health. Not to mention other contaminants like chemical cleaners and pet dander are already impacting the air that you and your family breathe in your home on a regular basis.

The first step to understanding how to improve your indoor air quality is getting to know more about the air quality in Lake Forest, CA and what measures you can take to prevent these pollutants from circulating through your home air system. Below we will discuss what you need to know about air quality in Lake Forest and offer helpful steps for improving the health of the air within your home.

Air Quality Report: Lake Forest, CA

Before we dive into how you can improve your indoor air quality, let’s talk about the air quality in Lake Forest, CA. This will give you a better idea of what you are up against when trying to combat air pollutants in your home.

According to the latest report on WeatherBug, Lake Forest, CA is a 56 on the Air Quality Index. This rating system from the EPA helps rate the quality of air based on five major air pollutants (ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide). In this case, the lower the score, the better the air quality. A 56 rating suggests that the air quality in Lake Forest is moderate. This means that the air is acceptable to breathe, but those who are sensitive may experience shortness of breath or coughing.

If you or someone in your family suffers from asthma, allergies, respiratory issues, or just generally has a weakened immune system, then this air quality could begin to have an impact over time. Though the air quality rating changes daily, you should take measures to ensure the air inside your home is safe and healthy to breathe.

How to Improve IAQ in Lake Forest, California

Here are some simple tips for improving indoor air quality in your Lake Forest, CA home:

  • Change your air filter regularly to avoid clogging or buildup. It’s best to check your air filter once a month and clean or change it when you notice it is dirty.
  • Keep your home clean and free of dust, dirt, and pet dander. In addition to vacuuming your carpets, you should also vacuum drapes, curtains, and furniture.
  • When cleaning your home, avoid chemical cleaners that can be toxic to your family. Instead, opt for all natural cleaners that do not release pollutants into your home.
  • Invest in an air purifier. If you or someone in your family is sensitive to air pollutants, you may want to look into buying an air purifier. This will help you decrease the contaminants that filter through your HVAC system.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality, look no further than McMaster Heating and Air Conditioning. Our HVAC experts can help recommend the best indoor air quality products for your home comfort needs. Give us a call today to set up a consultation: (949) 441-5611.

 

McMaster’s Guide to Home Comfort in Southern California

Need some tips for ways to make your Irvine home more comfortable? We’ve got just what you need. Here are our top home comfort articles from our blog archives. They’re packed with some great information about how you can control your home environment for improved comfort year-round.

Irvine Indoor Air Quality

With all of the outdoor pollution we are exposed to each day, it’s important to make sure that we are doing all that we can to keep our indoor air safe to breathe for ourselves and our families. Here are just a few articles that can help homeowners better understand and work to improve IAQ:

  • Did you know that weather can impact the air inside our homes? In How Extreme Weather Can Affect the Air in Your Home, we talk about just that. High temperatures can cause an increase in pollen while prolonged wet environments may also result in mold growth. Use the tips in this article to stay safe in any environment.
  • Most homeowners know that they should regularly change their HVAC filter each month to keep breathing easy. However, not every home owner is on top of this important task. In Changing Your HVAC Filter: Why is it so important? we explain just why you should be. This is a great article to share with someone you know who hasn’t changed their air filter in awhile.
  • How clean is the air inside your home? There is no way to tell for sure without testing your IAQ. In our post, What is Indoor Air Quality Testing? we explain what IAQ is and how it can help you improve the quality of the air that you and your family breathe in on a regular basis. This is a must-read for any homeowner with allergy or asthma sufferers in their family.
  • You may or may not have heard about the power of UV lights and how they can keep your indoor air clean. We’ve written a blog post all about it. UV Lights: How They Can Improve Indoor Air Quality tells you just what you need to know about improving indoor air quality with UV lights.

Controlling Home Comfort in SoCal

There’s more to home comfort than clean air. Temperature and humidity control are also an important part of maintaining a comfortable home environment. Here are some posts with valuable information on how to maintain your home environment:

  • Programmable thermostats have become a popular device for homeowners across the country. But why all the hype? In our post, Programmable Thermostats: Do They Really Benefit Me? we explain how these devices can benefit you from both a home comfort and monthly energy budget perspective. This is a great read for those who have been considering a programmable thermostat.
  • Another type of digital device that is changing the way that homeowners stay comfortable is the smart thermostat. This device offers even more benefits to homeowners who want to stay comfortable while conserving energy. We give you all the details you need to know about these devices from the home comfort experts in Carrier Cor Smart Thermostats. This is a great read for those of you who like to stay connected through the internet of things.
  • Many Irvine homeowners find that as the seasons change, sometimes it is not hot enough for air conditioner or cold enough for heat. This can result in some home comfort challenges that are difficult to tackle. But have no fear! The McMaster team covers this and more in our post, The Goldilocks of HVAC: How to Ensure Just Right Home Comfort When It’s Not Too Hot and Not Too Cold. Use this article for information about how to stay comfortable in those in between moments.
  • Dog may be man’s best friend, but sometimes the furry members of our families can wreak havoc on our indoor air quality. Any Irvine homeowners with pets will want to read 5 HVAC Tips for Homes with Pets in order to get the information they need to keep their homes healthy and comfortable for every member of the family.

Staying Comfortable in Irvine, CA

Want to learn more about how to keep your Irvine home comfortable year-round? Check back on our blog each month for new and informative content about home comfort, home improvement, and HVAC. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so that you never miss an update from McMaster Heating and Air Conditioning.

What is Indoor Air Quality Testing?

Indoor air pollution is common in homes and the causes vary widely—these include pets, poor ventilation, and mold, among many others. Indoor air quality testing is a helpful service that can benefit your home by helping you become aware of pollutants and irritants that you may not know even exist in your air.

Indoor Air Quality Testing generally involves a collection of samples from your home’s air and building surfaces and may even involve computer generated air flow models of your home. This type of testing can help you discover whether these substances are lurking in your home:

Radon:

This invisible radioactive gas is probably the most problematic regarding indoor air quality and is responsible for many deaths each year. Radon can enter buildings as a “soil gas” or through contaminated drinking water. Homeowners can mitigate radon by increasing ventilation, improving water drainage systems, and sealing concrete slab floors.

Carbon Monoxide:

This indoor air contaminate is colorless, odorless, and highly toxic. Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as from faulty HVAC systems, tobacco smoke, and even space heaters that use fossil fuels. These substances can cause many effects from Carbon Monoxide buildup, include headaches, nausea, and even death.

Pet Dander and Debris:

Pet dander and other debris are common in homes with pets, yet homeowners should be aware of the potential concerns regarding air quality. Pet dander, which is essentially tiny flakes of skin from your pet, along with pet hair, can cause buildup in your home and have a major effect on your home’s air quality. Dander and other microscopic debris can get trapped within your home’s ductwork and can circulate throughout your home each time your HVAC system is turned on.

Asbestos:

Although most buildings built after 1975 do not contain asbestos, older buildings may house some of this problematic material. Typically, the asbestos fiber found in these older buildings do not cause any health concerns until they are disturbed by remodeling or home improvement efforts, such as drilling, sawing, or other renovations. When the asbestos containing materials are damaged, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. This can cause significant concerns for your lungs, and unfortunately, most symptoms from asbestos exposure don’t surface until almost 20 years after a person’s exposure to asbestos.

Mold:

Mold can cause concerns for your home’s air quality and are almost always caused by excessive moisture. Mold’s growth can be inhibited by keeping a humidifier in your home and making sure that the humidity levels in your home stay below 50%. A thorough mold inspection could potentially require a bit of destruction to your home, since mold tends to hide in hard to see areas, such as behind drywall or within your home’s foundation. Mold should be taken seriously as it can affect your home’s air quality, and cause extra issues for family members who suffer from asthma.

All of these potentially harmful substances can be discovered (and subsequently controlled) through Indoor Air Quality testing. Your home’s air quality is important for your health and your comfort. Be sure to get your air quality inspected if you suspect any of the above concerns. If you need help finding the right indoor air quality products for your home comfort needs, contact us today.

5 HVAC Tips for Homes with Pets

Cats and dogs are beloved by many, and numerous people in the United States share their homes with pets. If you live with a furry or feathered friend, there are several things you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure that your home’s HVAC system is running smoothly, and that your home’s air quality is not compromised.

Control Pet Dander

Pet dander is made up of tiny, oftentimes microscopic, flakes of skin and is found on animals with fur or feathers. Most people who suffer with allergies to cats and dogs are not allergic to the pet’s hair, but instead the pet’s dander. Dander is produced by most pets and can seriously affect your home’s air quality. This can occur as the dander accumulates and is distributed throughout your home by way of your HVAC system.

The most important step in reducing pet dander in the home is prevention. Regular grooming of your pets is essential to their health and well-being, but it can also make a huge difference in the amount of dander they produce. Clean, well hydrated and moisturized skin will create less dander. Bathe your cat or dog regularly using a gentle, moisturizing soap (as recommended by your veterinarian) and brush your pet’s fur regularly. Adding these simple steps to your pet care routine can go a long way in preventing dander.

Change Your Filter

It’s good practice to change your HVAC system’s air filter regularly to ensure better air quality within your home. If you share your space with pets, change it twice as often as recommended.

Upgrade Your Filter

Even better than simply changing your air filter more frequently is to invest in your home’s air quality by upgrading to a HEPA filter. The benefits of switching to a HEPA filter are numerous. HEPA filters are made of densely packed layers of fibers which can capture ultrafine dust and dirt particles. This type of filter is ranked very high for its effectiveness and can remove approximately 99% of particles from your home’s air.

Clean Your Ducts

Having your home’s ducts cleaned can go a long way in dealing with pet dander. Dander, along with other dirt particles, can get trapped within your ductwork, which is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Since your home’s air passes through this ductwork, the trapped dirt, bacteria and mold will get discharged throughout your home each time your HVAC system is turned on. Having your ducts cleaned can eliminate this recirculating dirt and dander.

Seal Your Ducts

If your air ducts have cracks or leaks, this will allow pet dander an easy entryway inside the ductwork, which can majorly affect the quality of the air that passes through your home. After you have your ductwork cleaned, consider also having the ducts sealed to prevent further dirt from accumulating in your home’s ductwork.

We at McMaster can help with all of your indoor air quality needs. Check out our offered services, and give us a call today to learn more on how we can help improve your home’s air quality!

UV Lights Can Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality has a major influence on overall health, so it’s important to find ways to keep your air quality high or improve poor air quality in your home. Studies have found that ultraviolet lights are one way to reduce the impact of indoor air contaminants.

The sterilizing ability of UV light is well-known. Hospitals sometimes use UV light to keep their environments microbe-free, and UV light can also be used to treat water. Germicidal UV lamps are sometimes found in food processing plants to help protect food from contamination.

UV Lights Render Microbes Harmless

In homes, UV germicidal irradiation systems can target upper-room air, HVAC ductwork or cooling coils and drain pans. The moisture found on HVAC coils and drain pans can attract microbes such as mold, bacteria or fungi, which love warm, damp environments. Mold can also grow in ducts over time, particularly areas subject to moisture from evaporation.

Upper-room air UV systems have the advantage of targeting air once it has already reached your living spaces. These systems direct their UV light into the upper parts of a room, decontaminating the air as it circulates without exposing occupants to direct UV light exposure.

UV light improves air quality by targeting the genetic material of microbes that can inhabit indoor air. The light breaks down the DNA and RNA in these microbes, causing them to break apart entirely or simply become harmless. Airborne pathogens that are vulnerable to UV light include bacteria, viruses, mildew, mold, fungi and spores.

Other Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

UV lights can be a great tool to improve indoor air quality, but they shouldn’t be the only tool you use. Proper ventilation, cleaning, maintenance and moisture control should also be part of your efforts to ensure that your indoor air is as healthy as possible.

According to the EPA, indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. As a result, opening windows and doors whenever possible can help to ventilate your home and refresh your indoor air. High quality air filters and frequent filter changes can also make a big difference to air quality.

Clean surfaces in your home are critical for air quality control. Sweeping and mopping floors, vacuuming carpets and washing bedding are all important steps to take regularly. Use door mats, or remove shoes at the door to avoid tracking in dirt and other contaminants from outdoors.

Thank you for visiting our blog! Please contact us if you would like to speak with an expert about indoor air quality management.

Extreme Weather Can Affect the Air in Your Home

Climate change has increased the number and intensity of floods, heat waves and other extreme weather patterns. These weather conditions affect indoor air by changing the way homeowners heat and cool their homes, and by impacting home structures.

How Extreme Weather Affects Homes

Severe weather can take a particular toll on a home and its occupants in the following ways:

  • Intense heat outdoors can cause prolonged heat stress on a home’s structure.
  • High temperatures cause an increase in pollen production, which impacts both outdoor and indoor air quality.
  • Storms can cause power failures and brownouts, and many homeowners respond by using electrical power generators indoors, which can lead to dangerously high carbon monoxide levels.
  • Prolonged and uncharacteristic wetness and rain outdoors can result in allergen production and mold growth indoors.

The Affect of Increased Central Air Conditioning

When the weather changes, homeowners are apt to use their air conditioning more often. While air conditioning in and of itself isn’t a problem, it can cause problems if the homeowner doesn’t stay up-to-date on maintenance and cleanings. Cool air results in increased humidity. This causes moisture to build up in the air conditioner coil, and dust can build up as well if your unit lacks a good filtration system. That wet dust then turns into mold.

How to Protect Your Indoor Air

Air conditioners aren’t dangerous when proper precautions are taken. One of the most important steps is to change your air filter regularly. Make sure your filter has a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 8. For those with allergies, MERV-11 is recommended. Air filters prevent dust from passing through the filter and into the indoor air. For new air conditioning systems, the air filter will prevent mold, and it will lessen the mold in older systems. Air filters can be bought at most hardware stores.

Investing in regular maintenance goes a long way toward protecting your indoor air, no matter the weather. Contact McMaster Heating and Air Conditioning for a tune-up of your system, so you won’t be caught off guard during the next weather emergency. Getting thorough maintenance on your HVAC system before the start of the summer can help your unit work properly during the hot months and can keep your indoor air from becoming problematic.

Do I Really Have To Change My Air Filter Often?

Many homeowners are not sure when to change their air filter or whether or not they should change the filters at all. Knowing when to change the air filter depends on a number of factors, and is something that every homeowner must know how to do to ensure that the air around the home is safe for everyone to breathe.

Factors to consider when thinking about changing your filter include:

–the type of filter

–air quality in the house

–presence or absence of pets

–the number of people in the home at any given day

–surrounding areas

Different types of filters have different lifespans. Look at manufacturer instructions to determine recommended times when a filter needs to be changed. For example, high efficiency filters have a working life of 6 months to a year. Home filters need to be changed every 3 months. Commercial filters such as those in restaurants, stores and offices where there is a high number of foot traffic may require filter changes every 4 to 8 weeks.

The air quality around the house, which can be affected by the presence or absence of pets and how many people are in the house at any given day, will also contribute to the amount of dirt, dust and dander flying around. Living in an area with high pollution, such as near highways or construction sites, also means that more dust and pollutants can get into the house. Your filter does the main job of cleaning these up, so frequent changes may be needed.

How often should you change your air filter?

The best answer would be to change your filters when they are dirty. Knowing the factors above, you now have an idea how often you should be checking if the filters need to be changed. Even if a thin layer of dust is present, changing filters is a good idea especially if there are very small children or elderly individuals living in the house.

Air filters serve as the barrier between your home and the pollutants outside, so proper maintenance is a must. Not only are you keeping the air inside safe and clean, you are also prolonging the life of your air conditioning systems.

Follow us for more tips and ideas on proper HVAC maintenance and ensure the efficiency of your air cooling and conditioning systems today.

Improve Indoor Air Quality Today

There’s little doubt that the high winds plaguing homeowners all over the country have created a problem with dusty HVAC equipment. Unfortunately, as the dust and debris accumulates on your heating and cooling equipment, internal components are put under unnecessary stress. The grit and dirt that finds its way into your machinery can be extremely damaging, leading to premature breakdowns and a variety of HVAC repair issues. Of course, with quality AC maintenance and cleaning, it is possible to rid your expensive equipment of this damaging dirt and ensure it is ready to provide reliable cooling even during the hottest days of summer.

While the increase in winds has brought damaging dust and grit to your home’s HVAC system, it has also taken its toll when it comes to home air quality. The airborne irritants, especially mold and other allergens, can be extremely unhealthy, especially for individuals who are suffering from respiratory ailments or allergies. Minimizing the irritants in your home is an important factor in improving the health of your family and a professional HVAC vent cleaning is an easy and affordable way to improve indoor air quality.

Whether you are worried about indoor air quality or you want an effective way to protect your HVAC system, eliminating the dirt and debris that high winds have brought to your home is definitely important. Fortunately, a trained HVAC technician will be able to provide reliable air quality testing as well as a thorough HVAC vent cleaning in order to ensure the quality of air in your home is at its best. Now is the time to take action in order to best protect the health of your family. Of course, with professional AC maintenance, your HVAC technician will also be able to eliminate damaging dirt from your HVAC equipment, providing an important level of protection.