Ten steps to improve air quality
Breathing in polluted air has short term and long-term consequences for your health. In addition to respiratory issues, it can lead to skin irritation, headaches and drowsiness. While Australians are lucky to enjoy excellent outdoor air quality, maintaining indoor air quality takes a bit more effort – particularly in older builds that may not be as well ventilated.
Essential activities like cooking, showering and even breathing out all create condensation. Without adequate ventilation, this moisture gets trapped inside the building. Obviously, you can’t and shouldn’t stop doing any of these activities. To improve air quality in your home, all you need to do is remove polluted air as quickly as possible and replace it with fresh, clean air.
Some of the options available to you are simpler to achieve than others, but they are all well worth considering.
Heat recovery sets the gold standard for ventilation. This innovative technology balances the need to air out your home with your desire to use less energy. Without this type of technology, ventilation and energy efficiency can compete with each other. Extracting stale air usually results in heat loss, which means that you need to use heating and cooling appliances for longer. While Heat Recovery Ventilation works well in new builds, it’s not the best solution for everyone. Our staff can help you determine whether heat recovery is best for you.
The adage is true. Prevention is better than cure. When you’re cooking or washing up, running a suitable exhaust fan until the steam clears will prevent moisture build-up and keep your indoor air fresh. If you extract the air quickly enough, mould doesn’t get a chance to grow. You will get the most use out of an exhaust fan in the following areas
Easily the dampest part of the house, your bathroom will need a little extra work. Because showering and bathing create so much moist air, a poorly ventilated bathroom is a breeding ground for condensation and mould. Run your exhaust fan whenever your shower is on and run it until the steam clears.
When you use a dryer as part of your laundry routine, you may notice a slow condensation build-up. While you won’t see the moisture as clearly as you will in the bathroom, it can still affect the air quality. Consider installing an exhaust fan to extract that moist air before it turns into something worse.
Cooking is another activity that creates steam and condensation, particularly in cooler weather. Rangehoods are usually the best option to ventilate kitchens. Their design allows them to remove cooking grease from the air, while this element may reduce the lifespan of a regular exhaust fan.
3. Duct the air out
If you’re installing or replacing an exhaust fan, the best way to protect the air quality in your home is to remove stale air from the building envelope entirely. Ideally, this means connecting your exhaust fan to an external vent using ducting or piping. If your ceiling/roof cavity doesn’t have enough space to do this, then think about installing roof vents under the eaves to allow air to exit the building. Preventing moisture from building up in the roof space will help you avoid mould growth in the roof and improve air quality.
4. Allow a crossflow
Removing stale air is only step one. The second step is replacing it with fresh air. Luckily, this isn’t too hard to achieve. An open window or a gap under the door can be enough to provide a source of fresh air in bathrooms or kitchens. In other areas, you may need to install vents to facilitate fresh air.
Most people don’t think about ventilating their subfloor area until it becomes an issue, but it’s worth thinking about early. The cavity between your floor and the earth isn’t exposed to sunlight and does not dry out naturally, meaning the airspace can get quite damp. Even though this area is separate from the living space, poor quality air can seep from the underfloor into your home through various cracks and crevices in the building. We suggest extracting stale air from your subfloor area using a subfloor ventilation kit.
Stale air isn’t the only source of pollutants. Rain, leaky pipes and groundwater can lead to pools of water forming underneath or inside your home. It’s critical to address these sorts of issues if you’re serious about improving your indoor air quality. Removing any sources of moisture and allowing for adequate drainage will make a huge difference.
7. Passive ventilation
If you have limited space available and don’t need to move a lot of air, installing a vent can help facilitate airflow. However, this option doesn’t give you much control over the situation and can affect your home’s temperature, so think about your goals before going ahead.
8. Remove mould
Mould reproduces by sending spores into the air. When the spores land on a suitable surface, they grow into more mould, so it’s easy to see how quickly mould issues can get out of hand. If you have any mould at all, don’t ignore it! You need to remove it. Depending on the size of the problem, you may be able to do this yourself with vinegar or mould killer, but sometimes it’s necessary to call in an expert.
9. Clean regularly
Some materials in your home trap dust, pollen and even your pet’s fur. Much like spores, these particles can affect the air quality in your home. The effects are even more noticeable if your family or friends have allergies. However, regularly dusting and vacuuming will improve air quality and benefit your health whether or not you are sensitive to allergens. Make sure not to forget the following dusty hotspots:
- Vents & ducts
10. Plants improve air quality too
Some plants absorb moisture and toxins from the air, acting as a natural filter. NASA’s clean air study found that lots of different plants like the Ficus, Peace Lily, Devil’s Ivy and Boston ferns can remove toxins from the air. Not only do these natural beauties give you cleaner air to breathe, but they also look fantastic.
Please contact our friendly team if you have questions about how we can help you achieve better air quality at home.
We also have an online exhaust calculator to help you find the right exhaust solution for your needs.