How to Measure Indoor Air Quality
  • Posted on May 16, 2018
  • By Rod Miller

Your home’s indoor air quality is one of the most crucial aspects of your home’s safety. What makes indoor air quality risk even more frightening is the fact that you can’t see it. Your health could be at risk and you wouldn’t even know it without testing your air quality.


The EPA has listed poor indoor air quality among the top five environmental dangers. Newer Gaithersburg homes are built for energy efficiency, which results in less ventilation and thus, poor air quality.


If you haven’t tested your indoor air quality recently, you need to look into doing so. You can hire a professional to do this, but there are several tools that you can use to do it yourself.


What Exactly is Indoor Air Quality?

Indoor air quality is the pureness of your home’s air in regard to your personal health. Some of the most common pollutants that effect air quality include: molds, allergens, bacteria, asbestos, and carbon monoxide. Some of these pollutants can develop naturally inside of your house in Gaithersburg, while others may occur from flaws such as a gas leak.


The dangers of poor indoor air quality can range from minor eye and throat irritation, to serious sickness or poisoning. Overexposure to mold or asbestos can result in respiratory congestion, and eventually chronic respiratory diseases.


All of these potential threats sound very intimidating, but don’t fret. It’s not too late to test your air and evaluate whether or not you need to hire professional help.

How You Can Measure Indoor Air Quality Yourself

There are various easy-to-use tools that can be bought or rented for testing air quality yourself, but there are also more obvious indicators of poor air quality.


1. Trust Your Senses

Before purchasing an expensive tool, you can follow your basic senses to evaluate your air quality.


The smell of your home’s air is the most obvious indicator of poor air quality. We tend to stop noticing the smell of our home when spending a lot of time in it, because our sense of smell adjusts. Try leaving the house for an hour or two and then smelling the air upon your return.


Mold tends to have a musty smell, similar to soggy wood or something stale. If you smell this, inspect the crevices in your home. Mold often hides in areas that are exposed to moisture or humidity – sometimes within your insulation.


Asbestos’ smell is often compared to the smell of tar, like a newly-made road. Asbestos is common in homes in Gaithersburg built before 1980 and is found in many places such as ceiling and floor tiles, insulation, boilers, pipes, ducts, or furnaces. If you smell asbestos but are unable to locate it, seek professional help.


2. Watch for Symptoms Caused by Pollutants

Other pollutants like carbon monoxide actually have no odor or taste, so you’ll have to detect them by other means. Beginning symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and blurred vision.


Inspect your heaters to detect carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely serious, so please contact an HVAC professional to repair your unit if you’re experiencing this.


Itchy eyes or throat can indicate the presence of mold or allergens. Respiratory issues can also indicate those pollutants, and many others. Individuals with asthma are particularly subject to noticing respiratory issues from poor indoor air quality.


Use your common sense and listen to your body to rule out any obvious sources of poor indoor air quality. If you detect something, take the next steps by hiring a Gaithersburg HVAC professional or looking into an air quality measurement tool.


3. Use Devices for Measuring Indoor Air Quality

There is a wide range of products used for different aspects of air quality. Some tools are more general, covering multiple areas, while others are used for more specific chemical compounds, like carbon dioxide.


The best device for making general air quality measurements is a volatile organic compound (VOC) meter. Volatile organic compounds include a variety of harmful gases emitted by various sources.


Certain VOC meters have different features, but they generally are able to detect molds, bacteria, and other airborne chemicals such as formaldehyde. A VOC meter is a great tool to start with for general indoor air quality measurement.


Certain chemical compounds such as carbon dioxide and radon call for more specific devices dedicated to detecting just them. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from natural substances such as soil or rocks breaking down. Radon may not be detected by your VOC meter, so it’s recommended that you install a radon detector instead.


Other substances like asbestos or lead require testing kits to be discovered. If you discover a suspicious substance, a kit will allow you to analyze it and will determine if it’s harmful.


These are some of the most common devices and methods for measuring air quality, but there are many other devices used for more specific chemicals. New devices are always coming out with new features. The smart home technology movement has brought about many air quality measurement tools such as monitors, which can be installed to constantly track your Gaithersburg home’s air quality.

What Now?

If you discover a pollutant in your home through your own senses or through a device, take action as soon as possible to get it removed. You could try to remove it yourself, but we recommend that you hire a professional.


The dangers of poor air quality are too serious to risk making a mistake by doing it yourself. You may not completely remove the substance or could risk only removing one section of it if it has spread to other parts of the house.


Hire a Professional HVAC Company

Located in Gaithersburg, Rod Miller provides the services needed to ensure that your home’s air quality is safe for you and your family.


Your heater could be due for a repair, causing it to leak carbon monoxide. Don’t try to fix this yourself, as it can be dangerous, and you may not fix it properly. Hire Rod Miller for this, a professional HVAC service company. Poor ventilation is also a common cause of mold, bacteria, and allergens. If you suspect this is the issue, request an evaluation or your air ducts, or schedule an air duct cleaning service.


At Rod Miller, we can meet all of your HVAC needs without trying to sell you something you don’t need. If you’ve already hired a Gaithersburg professional to discover the source of your airborne pollutants, consider hiring Rod Miller to get a second opinion.


Our goal is to treat our customers like family by honestly providing only the services that are best for them. If you feel that your indoor air quality needs improvement, please gives us a call or get in touch with us online.


We promise to provide the highest quality service to create a safe environment for you and your family.


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