As you spend more of your time at home in the colder months, it’s important to ensure you have good indoor air quality. Studies have found that poor air quality can affect emotional health as well as causing respiratory problems, so you should be able to tell when you’re breathing poorly treated air. Here are a few ways you can tell that the air quality in your home needs to improve.
Increased Respiratory Problems
One of the most telling signs of a problem with your indoor air quality is in how you and the other members of your household breathe [source]. If you experience more frequent breathing difficulties, or if you develop cold-like symptoms, your air quality may be the culprit. This includes frequently sneezing, coughing, or feeling nauseous.
Even if you don’t notice these symptoms, a scratchy sensation in the ears, nose, or throat can also be a sign that you’re breathing in pollen and other contaminants inside the home. You can tell these symptoms are the result of the indoor air quality in your home if they’re alleviated after spending hours away from home.
Unexplained Skin Outbreaks
Another sign of poor indoor air quality is the condition of your skin. Since everyone has different skin types, poor air quality can affect some members of your household more than it will affect others. In general, you might see dryness or roughness in the skin. Ultimately, this can lead to rashes or other outbreaks.
If contaminants in the air block the pores in your skin, that can cause an outbreak of pimples or a rash. While air quality isn’t always the problem, it can be the cause of skin irritation when other causes have been eliminated.
Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders
Your home is the only place where you have control over the air quality, and it’s important to address this issue for a number of health reasons. That includes making sure everyone in the home can sleep well throughout the night. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, air quality may be one problem. The temperature should be kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but you should also make sure the air being pushed into your bedroom is free of contaminants and allergens.
A recent study found that people were 60% less likely to sleep through the night when they were exposed to polluted air, so episodes of insomnia can indicate a need to improve overall air quality [source].
Reduced Air Flow
Your HVAC system will produce external signs of poor indoor air quality as well. In particular, you should be watchful for inhibited air flow throughout the room. If you notice it in one specific area, the ducts and registers leading into that room may have blockages.
However, if you notice a general inefficiency of your system, such as feeling hot or cold spots throughout the home, the problem may be more widespread. If you have replaced the air filter, other problems may be preventing your HVAC system from properly treating the air. This will also cause the system to work harder, so you may see an increase in your energy bills.
Once you know you have an air quality problem, there are a few things you can do to fix it. The first thing you should do is change or clean the air filter in your HVAC system and call your contractor to give the system a complete inspection. You should also clean the ducts and registers throughout your home. A portable air purifier can help in problem areas. You can find more ways to improve your indoor air quality by consulting your contractor or by searching online.