It can feel like cruel punishment that as soon as the weather starts to improve, your sinus symptoms and allergies start to increase. But for those that seem to experience seasonal allergies in more than one season, the cause may be more than just the surge in blooming plants. Taking a closer look at how your home is performing, and how clean your indoor air is, may uncover that your symptoms can be resolved with some targeted home improvements. Here is what you need to know about indoor air quality and allergies.
How Contaminated is Indoor Air?
A helpful thing to remember when thinking about indoor air quality is that the EPA estimates indoor air to be twice as contaminated as the air outside - and that’s considered the low end of their estimate! In reality, indoor air can be up to five times more contaminated that the air you breathe outside. This is due to the fact that it's easy for contaminants to get into your home, and harder to get them back out.
How a Home Traps Contaminants
Homes are rarely built air-tight, and even if they are, they can develop leaks and cracks over time. These air gaps, along with open windows and doors throughout the home, will allow outside air to infiltrate at will, bringing with it contaminants and particles. Once these contaminants enter the home, they are sucked into the intake of your heating and cooling system and recirculated multiple times. This provides multiple opportunities for these contaminants to irritate your sinus and respiratory system, causing allergy-like symptoms.
Types of Indoor Air Contaminants
There is a long list of contaminants we look for, some of the most common being:
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - chemicals found in products like paints, cleaning supplies, and building materials.
Radon - a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can enter homes through cracks and openings in the foundation.
Carbon monoxide (CO) - an odorless, colorless gas produced by incomplete combustion of fuels, such as gas stoves or furnaces.
Mold and mildew - fungi that grow in damp or humid conditions, releasing spores that can cause respiratory problems.
Dust mites - microscopic insects that thrive in household dust and can trigger allergies and asthma.
Tobacco smoke - a mixture of gasses and particles released from burning tobacco products, containing numerous harmful chemicals.
Pollen - microscopic particles from plants that can enter homes through open windows and doors, triggering allergies.
Pet dander - tiny flakes of skin shed by animals that can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Sensitivities to these contaminants, even at low levels, can cause symptoms like post nasal drip, congestion, headaches, coughing, wheezing, fatigue, and more.
Start Improving Indoor Air Quality With an Energy Audit
The smart way to begin enhancing your indoor air quality is by scheduling an energy audit with our team here at Energy Smart Home Improvement. An energy audit is a comprehensive assessment of your home's energy performance, which also evaluates indoor air quality. By identifying areas where air sealing, insulation, ventilation, and HVAC system improvements can be made, you can target and rectify the root causes of poor air quality. By implementing our recommendations, you can not only improve your home's energy efficiency but also create a healthier and more comfortable living environment for years to come.