By The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI)
To avoid common air quality problems within the home, follow ten simple steps:
1. Operate the exhaust fan when bathing and showering to limit moisture build up. Be sure to keep the shower curtain or bathtub sliding door open after bathing to increase air circulation. For tips on selecting the right exhaust fan, see HVI’s Bathroom Ventilation Guidelines and Product Directory.
2. Turn on range hood fans to expel contaminants released from food while cooking. Range hoods can also eliminate pollutants such as carbon monoxide which can be released during cooking. For help in selecting the right range hood fan, see HVI’s Product Directory.
3. Increase ventilation rates during family gatherings and parties. For tips on achieving the right ventilation rates, see HVI’s How Much Ventilation Do I Need? Also consider a whole-house comfort ventilator. HVI recommends that a whole-house comfort ventilator have a minimum capacity to provide approximately one complete air change every two minutes within the occupied area. This flow rate will be great enough to create a perceptible “breeze” through the house. The required flow rate can be calculated by multiplying the gross square footage of the entire house (including unoccupied areas like closets) by 3. Be sure to include the upstairs area of multilevel homes. This formula assumes an eight-foot ceiling and takes into account typical unoccupied areas.
4. Ensure that continuous ventilation is provided in addition to the intermittent ventilation systems. This can be achieved using a whole-house comfort ventilator, HRV or ERV, or other fan configurations. For tips on selecting the right ventilation systems, see HVI’s Fresh Ideas – The Guide to Home Ventilation & Indoor Air Quality and its Product Directory.
5. Plan routine maintenance for HVAC equipment to ensure all systems are working properly and performing as intended. Schedule a professional inspection, cleaning and “tune-up” by a qualified firm regularly.
6. Change HVAC filters as instructed. Check, clean, or replace furnace and air filters regularly as recommended. Consider installing a “high efficiency particulate” or HEPA filter for better performance.
7. Clean the home regularly to prevent dust, dirt, and pet-hair accumulation. Dust and dirt particles can become airborne, creating contaminants in the air. Regular cleaning can help to eliminate this potential hazard.
8. Use safe cleaning products to avoid emitting dangerous chemicals into the air. Many products can release toxic or irritating chemicals when used. Select cleaning products that are certified for low levels of chemical emissions. Increase ventilation during cleaning tasks.
9. Purchase low emitting finishes and materials. New or recently installed building materials and furnishings can emit dangerous toxins. Look for products that are certified for low chemical emissions. When outgassing is minimized ventilation systems don’t need to exchange the air as often.
10. Ensure that clothes dryers are exhausted directly to the outside and make sure that filters and hoods are cleaned regularly to maintain airflow.
• John P. Lapotaire, CIEC
• Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant
• Microshield Environmental Services, LLC