During the most humid days of the hot Southern summer, many of us are relegated to our homes. While inside, you might notice that it gets a little bit more difficult to breathe over time. You might notice dust collecting on the floor and in the corners, and you might be sneezing more often. Some people are more sensitive to changes in indoor air quality than others, but rest assured, indoor air quality is real and it’s important.

Poor indoor air quality can cause trouble breathing and can also impact the life of your HVAC system. What are the symptoms of poor indoor air quality, what causes indoor air quality to drop, and how can you fix it?

Symptoms of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Increased presence of dust collecting in the home

If you notice a lot of dust collecting on your shelves, floors, walls, ceiling fans, and other items, your home’s indoor air quality is likely poor. It’s likely caused by a clogged air filter or dirty air ducts.

Increase frequency of sneezing and allergy attacks

Are you sneezing more than usual? Have your sinuses been congested despite usually not being too allergy-stricken during this time of year? If you notice this, especially inside, you might have an indoor air quality problem.

A noticeable mold or mildew smell

If you notice that more mildew and mold are growing, especially in high humidity areas of the house like the bathroom, then your indoor air quality is likely suffering as a result.

Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Mold & Mildew

Mold and mildew grow pretty much anywhere in the right conditions. If it’s humid and warm, they’ll grow. What’s worse is that mold and mildew can produce mycotoxins that are irritating to us.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Most people haven’t heard about VOCs, but they’re everywhere and impossible to avoid. Air fresheners, household cleaners, adhesives, nail polish remover, and many other common household products contain VOCs. VOCs cause problems because they evaporate into the air at room temperature and can be hazardous to humans.

Dust, Dander, Pollen, & Other Allergens

Allergens describe a wide category of particles that cause allergic reactions in humans. Dust, dander, pollen, and many other allergens can collect on the floors, walls, corners, ceiling fans, and even within the ducts. This problem is compounded if the air filter in the HVAC system isn’t changed regularly!

How To Improve Indoor Air Quality

Change your air filters regularly. Clogged air filters cause dust and allergens to collect in the ducts. Ultimately they get into the air that comes out of the vents. Check your air filters to see how often you should be changing it.

Keep humidity levels between 30-50%. Humidity promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Get a dehumidifier if you don’t have one installed.

Get your ducts cleaned. Just like replacing your air filter, you need to clean your ducts every so often. Get an HVAC professional to clean your ducts for you in order to get the best improvement in indoor air quality.

Use an air cleaner. An air cleaner can rid the air of common toxins that go through the HVAC system. Common brands include Honeywell, Alen, and Coway.