We spend a good 90 percent of our time indoors, enjoying the protection from the weather and the comfort provided by heating and air conditioning systems. However, indoor air quality can be up to five times more toxic than outdoor air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The reasons for poor indoor air quality are many and vary by season, location, the use of chemical cleaners, and cigarette smoking. Your HVAC system, if not properly maintained, can exacerbate the problem. At the same time, the system, if operating as intended, can help clean up indoor pollution.

Effective ventilation is the key, whether you are using the furnace during the winter or need cooling off in the hotter months. Most residential HVAC systems use forced air, which involves blowing the hot or cold air through a series of air ducts. Air filters are needed to keep dust out of the equipment and reduce particles of pollutants in the home.

Replacing filters at recommended intervals can be something the homeowner can do easily to improve indoor air quality. If airborne allergies are a problem for anyone in the household, you may want to invest in a filter with a higher MERV rating. The rating indicates the size of particles the filter can trap. For residential uses, the ratings scale goes from one, for the lowest particle protection, to 16.

Other steps the homeowner can take for better air quality include:

  • Vent kitchens bathrooms
  • Bathrooms laundry rooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Clothes dryers directly outdoors.

Store toxic chemicals, paints, pesticides, solvents, and cleaners out of the area of the home that is occupied.
Do not locate furnaces, duct work, or air conditioners where they will draw outdoor contaminants into the home.

Have an HVAC professional clean your duct work.

Open the windows for better ventilation when you are using toxic cleaning products or performing other tasks that can pollute the air.

With maintenance help from the professionals at Hoveln Heating and Cooling, Inc., HVAC systems can do much more for your indoor environment than simply keep you warm or cool. With proper upkeep, they also can make your indoor atmosphere cleaner and more livable.