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The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality

The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Air Quality

A comprehensive overview of information, air purification tools and tips to improve and maintain the air quality in your home.

As the patterns of work-life continue to shift and more people find themselves working from anywhere—including, for many, their dining room tables or home office spaces—awareness is also shifting to living conditions, and specifically, the quality of the air that we breathe.

At Reliance™ we know you’d be hard pressed to find an indoor space that doesn’t have at least a minimal concentration of pollutants in the air, but significant concentrations of particulate matter in the air you breathe can affect your ability to enjoy your space, as well as your comfort and quality of life.

While many factors can lead to poor air quality, including whether you live in a city or the country, how much traffic passes near your house, and even the weather, there are a broad array of air purification solutions available on the market today that can help you to immediately improve the quality of your indoor air supply, but also to keep that supply as clean and fresh as possible over time.

We’ve developed this guide to provide you with the resources necessary to understand the ins and outs of indoor air quality. Armed with the details in this guide, you’ll be better able to understand the types of air quality issues you may be experiencing in your home and the right equipment to fix them.

If in doubt, just Call on Reliance™ — our Home Comfort Advisors are just a phone call away.

Air Purifiers and Covid-19

“When used properly, air cleaners, and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and others, filtration can be part of a plan to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors.” 1

10 Questions This Guide Will Answer

Why is Indoor Air Quality So Important?

Our bodies require sufficient levels of high-quality, fresh air to function at their best.

When fine particles like pollen, pet dander, dust, cigarette smoke and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are released into the air, they decrease the air quality in the buildings in which we live, work or spend any time. This in turn can affect our health, comfort and well-being.

3 Key Benefits of Maintaining High-Quality Air in Your Home

Greater comfort
and well-being

When you’ve got cleaner air in your home, you’re likely to experience fewer respiratory symptoms.

home systems

In high concentrations, dust, debris and other pollutants can clog the equipment that filters and conditions the air in your home. This can lead to greater wear and tear, which in turn can shorten your heating and cooling equipment’s expected lifespan.

Save money
every month

When your HVAC equipment pulls in cleaner air, it doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job, which means it could take less energy to run as expected.

The Importance of Keeping Your HVAC Filters Clean
It stands to reason that if your indoor air is full of particulate matter like dust, pollen and various gaseous chemicals, so too will your HVAC filters be.
After all, your heating and cooling equipment pulls air from indoors then processes it and returns it back into the air you breathe.
When you have “bad air” within or just outside your home, the particulate matter gets trapped in your HVAC system’s filters.
When those filters get too clogged up with dust, hair and other pollutants, they need to work harder, which can not only limit their effectiveness but can even shorten their lifespan.
This is why it’s so important to check your HVAC filters for excess build-up, and based on manufacturer’s recommendation, be sure to clean and/or replace your HVAC filters as necessary.

Learn the ins and outs of furnace filters, including how to change them, in this post.

What Are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?

If you’ve purchased a new memory foam mattress, had carpeting installed in your home, or recaulked your bathtub, you’ve likely come in contact with VOCs.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in many products and items used every day to build, maintain and furnish homes. This includes memory foam mattresses and pillows, carpeting and area rugs, vinyl and pressed-wood flooring, as well as some air fresheners, cleaning products, paints, caulking, and more. Once these items are brought into your home, they often release or “off-gas” VOCs into the air.2

The following steps can help you to reduce your exposure to VOCs:

  1. Consider purchasing low-VOC paint and furnishing options. And only buy as much paint, solvents, adhesive, caulking and other building materials as you need at any given time (unused products can “leak” VOCs into the air when stored).
  2. To limit exposure, store unused building materials and supplies outside of your home (e.g., in a shed or unattached garage).
  3. Dispose of unused building materials and supplies on a frequent basis.
  4. Look for solid wood items, as they often contain fewer VOCs than items made from composite wood.
  1. Open doors and windows when using products known to off-gas VOCs.
  2. Use fans to maximize the amount of air brought into your home from outside.
  1. Chemicals off-gas more in high-temperature and high-humidity conditions.

3 Key Strategies for Better Air Quality in Your Home

The first thing you likely think about when considering how to improve the quality of the air in your home is installing an air cleaner or purifier. And while the air purifiers, cleaners and filters on the market today could be effective tools for this purpose, it’s only one of several strategies you have at your disposal to reduce the concentration of pollutants that can cause bad air in your home.

Taken together, the following three strategies can help to get more fresh, clean air flowing in less time:

Strategy #1

Use ventilation to introduce more outdoor air inside your home

This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective strategies for decreasing indoor air pollutant concentrations: when you add ventilation—whether general or localized—you quickly improve your home’s air quality.


General Ventilation

Brings outdoor air indoors, circulates air throughout the home, and pulls polluted air outside

Methods include:

  1. Infiltration – casual air flow through openings, joints and cracks in walls, floors and ceiling
  2. Natural ventilation – flow through an open window
  3. Mechanical ventilation – via your HVAC system

Localized Ventilation

Removes excess moisture and pollutants that are confined to a space (e.g., a bathroom after taking a shower) before they’re able to spread to other areas of your home

Methods include:
  1. Infiltration – casual air flow through openings, joints and cracks in walls, floors and ceiling
  2. Natural ventilation – flow through an open window
Strategy #2

Control individual sources of bad air that are already in your home

Whether it’s cleaning products, appliances that release products of combustion (e.g., fireplaces, gas ranges), or even furnishings that off-gas VOCs (e.g., area rugs, foam mattresses, pressed-wood flooring), one of the most effective steps you can take to improve indoor air quality is to seek out, upgrade or eliminate individual sources of indoor air pollutants within your home.

Strategy #3

Remove airborne pollutants (a.k.a., filtering and/or cleaning) 

Numerous devices and solutions (including portable air purifiers or cleaners) are capable of removing varying degrees of the airborne particles in your home’s air supply. However, they work best when you use them alongside the above two strategies. This is because air cleaners alone cannot ensure adequate air quality, particularly where significant sources of poor air are present and ventilation is insufficient.

When it comes to air filtering and cleaning devices, you have many options available to you!

Here’s a handy outline of the most common solutions on the market today:


Mechanical Air Filters

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter; media air filter

What they do
Remove large particles, including dust, pollen and pet dander, by capturing them on filter materials