Air quality, ventilation & filtration
Surprisingly, the newer the home, the greater the chance of indoor air quality problems. Why? Modern building code requires tightly built homes. This is great for energy efficiency, as it reduces the energy loss from air movement. As you can imagine, this also greatly limits the amount of fresh air entering a home. Without a regular influx of fresh air, pollutant levels steadily rise inside the home.
Second, the average home simply contains many more chemicals than in the past. A quick glance under the kitchen sink or laundry room cabinet often reveals dozens of cleaning compounds and chemicals. While certainly these are not all harmful, they contribute to the overall pollution load of the home.
Addressing indoor pollutants generally falls into two categories: removing the source of material and/or diluting the pollutant. Obviously, if the offending items is easily identified and easily removed, the choice is simple. Toss it out. Or, if the item is of significant value, sometimes it can be isolated outside of the home during the off-gassing period. Examples include plug in air fresheners, scented candles, newly refinished furniture, etc.
In many situations, the answer is not so simple. This is especially true in homes with light to moderately elevated VOC levels. If the chemical odor is intense, our equipment can often pinpoint the source. However, when the levels are only moderately elevated, the dilution from natural air currents can greatly increase the difficulty of finding the underlying cause.
Increasing the fresh air flow into a home can kill two birds with one stone. First, the increase in fresh air can often dilute the proportion of the offending VOC to an undetectable level. Second, the fresh air will lower the relative humidity, thus reducing mold and dust mites.
This is why in fresh air is nearly always superior to filtration. A home needs an extraordinary amount of expensive filters to simply equal the air quality benefits that can be realized by increasing the quantity of fresh air. Now, this is not as simple as opening a window. Calculated, automated fresh air intake systems are necessary.
Dilution is often also the answer to VOC issues stemming from difficult to replace items such as cabinets and flooring. Improving ventilation by installing fresh air intakes, HRVs/ERVs, and other techniques can mitigate the VOC exposure if you can’t physically remove the source.
The goal is to provide fresh, filtered air through your existing HVAC system. Typically this is achieved with a fresh air intake. These systems pull outside air directly into your furnace, which then filters and conditions (heats or cools) the air. Unlike portable air filters or simply cracking a window, these systems provide fresh air to each room in the house.
Homes contain a surprising array of chemicals and VOCs. They can come from a variety of sources, but the most common culprits are:
- Laminated wood (flooring and cabinets)
- Cleaning chemicals
- Infusers & candles
- Air fresheners
- Printing inks
WHAT ARE VOCs?
Volatile Organic Compounds are organic compounds that can easily become vapors or gases. They can be released by burning certain items, oil & gas fields, or by solvents like paints, glues and other products of that nature. A vast majority of VOCs are hazardous air pollutants and some contribute to climate change when combined with other gases.