Back to Blog

How (and why) to Improve Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality with HVAC Systems

9 min Read
Best Indoor Air Quality Company | Malvern, PA
“More than half of the body’s (air) intake during a lifetime is air inhaled in the home.”        National Library of Medicine 
Last Revised: March 8, 2024
Read Time: 5 min.

 

When you think about pollution, images of urban smokestacks, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and chemical runoff water come to mind. Yet the indoor air pollution right in our homes can pose just as much of a threat to our health as these seemingly larger outdoor concerns. 

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, household air pollution was responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths during the year 2020. While that number may seem drastic, it demonstrates how poor indoor air quality can lead to all sorts of health problems. 

Addressing indoor air quality with a holistic approach will not only make your home a healthier place to live, it’ll also improve comfort and add years to your HVAC system’s lifespan. 

At Mattioni, we specialize in setting up residential air quality solution systems. We’re happy to be here to educate and assist you as you take the first steps in improving your home’s air quality. 

Here’s an overview of what we’ll be covering in this article: 

  1. Where Indoor Pollutants Come From
  2. The Health Benefits of Improved Air Quality 
  3. 3 Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality with HVAC Systems 
  4. How Improved Air Quality Supports Your HVAC System 

Let’s start by identifying the source of indoor pollutants, also known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 

 

1. Where Do Indoor Pollutants Come From?

There are several factors at play when measuring a home or building’s indoor air quality at any given moment. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are harmful molecules that stay in the air and are unhealthy to breathe. They find their way into our homes through many different sources and are sometimes out of our control entirely.  

One big source of VOCs is an unsafe cooking device, which most commonly includes open fires, kerosene stoves, or coal used to heat food. The byproducts of these burning devices linger in the air long after the fire is out and can be harmful to inhale. 

Chemicals are another VOC that contribute to the poor breathing quality of indoor air. Seemingly harmless things like carpets, hardwood floors, plywood, drywall, and paint are all manufactured using different chemicals that slowly dissipate into the air around them. These chemicals, along with those from hairsprays and cleaning products, also can take some time to completely filter out of a home.  

VOC Indoor Contaminants | Indoor Air Quality Company | West Chester, PA

Other contributing VOCs are pet dander, mold, and radon. Altogether, there’s a suite of potential VOCs that can silently pose a threat to your health if left unchecked.

2.   The Health Benefits of Improved Air Quality

The most noticeable benefit of improving your indoor air quality by addressing VOCs is a renewed sense of freshness and comfort. Any existing stuffiness or smells currently infiltrating your home will be eliminated relatively quickly. 

You’ll also notice an improvement in dust accumulation and pet dander, which will particularly help breathing conditions for individuals with severe pet allergies or asthma. In fact, if you have pet allergies, a quality indoor air-cleaning system may be able to allow you to bring a pet into your home without suffering an allergic reaction.

Not only does addressing your home’s air quality improve breathing conditions, but it also makes your home a far healthier place to live. Poor air quality can lead to many health issues like headaches, nausea and increased stress levels. By eliminating the VOCs that cause these problems, your home will be a healthier, more comfortable place to live.

 

How Serious Can Air Quality Threats Be? 

According to The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, exposure to VOCs can also lead to more serious health effects including cognitive decline, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and in severe cases, cancer. 

Among the most worrisome health risks stemming from indoor air quality is radon. 

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that forms as uranium in rocks, soil, and groundwater decay. It can silently seep into a home through cracks in the foundation and pose a serious health threat. In fact, Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, according to the EPA. 

Radon exposure is usually out of a homeowner’s control, but investing in a radon detector and completely sealing any cracks in your home’s foundation is a sensible start to keeping your home safe from serious dangers associated with it. 

 

Who’s at the Greatest Risk of Health Problems? 

The air in our homes can become a cocktail of VOCs that puts anyone exposed to them at risk for a long time. Unfortunately, however, some people are more susceptible to the effects of poor indoor air quality than others. 

Young children, elderly adults and those who already suffer from respiratory or cardiovascular disease are the most likely to experience health problems from VOCs.  

Staying mindful of our exposure to VOCs by limiting their influx and running air-cleaning HVAC systems, we can protect our most vulnerable loved ones. 

 

3. 3 Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality

For anyone looking to set their home up with a holistic and long-lasting system that maintains healthy indoor air conditions, there’s a three-pronged solution.  

    1. Install a Whole-House Air Purifier

      By connecting an air purifier directly to your home’s ductwork, you’re setting the stage for an immediate improvement in your indoor air quality. Air purifiers are a thorough layer of added filtration that traps VOCs, dust, pet dander and other contaminants that have been targeted by devices like air scrubbers.

      More sophisticated indoor air quality systems are only as good as the air filter that they work alongside, and a whole-house air purifier provides housing for the highest-quality filters. 

       

      Whole-home air purifiers cost between $600 and $3,000 to install into your existing HVAC system and are the first step to setting up a holistic home air cleaning system. Air Purifier | Best Air Filter Company | Coatesville, PA

       

      A 5” filter that has a MERV rating of at least 13 can truly set up your system for optimal performance. 

      Installing a whole-house air purification filter system will set up your HVAC system for immediate air quality improvement, and will also bring the best out of the next device in our three-pronged approach to holistic home air cleaning.

    2. Install an Air Scrubber

      Air scrubbers are devices that directly address the VOCs already in your home’s air. These appliances use a combination of specialty filters and UV light to trap and kill pollutants. The best air scrubbers are also capable of cleaning air at a molecular level. 

      To understand how a molecular air scrubber functions, it’s first important to know that most VOCs are positively charged ions. Molecular air scrubbers therefore send negatively ionized molecules out into the air, which then cling to VOCs. When this happens, the VOCs clump together and either land on a surface or are caught in your HVAC system’s filter.  

      This process takes microscopic VOCs and gets them to a size that can be cleaned either through surface sanitation or air filtration. Air scrubbers are installed directly into your home’s ductwork near the furnace or air handler. 

      Whole-home air scrubbers cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to install into your existing HVAC system and are the second step to setting up a holistic home air cleaning system. 

    3. Install an Energy Recovery Ventilation System (ERV)

      If your first thought to help your home’s air quality was to open your windows to let fresh air in, you’re on the right track. Did you know, however, that there are systems designed to accomplish this much more effectively and autonomously? 

      Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems (ERVs) are air exchange devices developed to replace stale, indoor air with fresh outdoor air. They utilize a simple 6” hole that draws in outdoor air and is piped directly to your return ducts. ERVs are hooked up to an electric damper so that they can pump in fresh air when turned on. 

      Energy Recovery Ventilation System (ERV) | HVAC Air Quality Company | Phoenixville, PA

      The effect that this system has is a constant and subtle flow of fresh air into your house. Investing in this air exchange system costs between $3,000 and $6,000 and is the final step in our holistic air cleaning solution.

 

When an ERV and air scrubber are installed alongside an air purifier, your entire HVAC system is set up to effectively fight and trap VOCs while keeping your home’s air fresh so that you can breathe easy.

 

4. How Improved Air Quality Supports Your HVAC System

 

An added benefit of setting up a holistic air quality solution in your home is a significant improvement in your HVAC system’s health.  

When all contaminants have been eradicated from the air, it takes much longer for dust and debris to build up in your system. This decreases the strain on individual components of the system and allows for better heat transfer and airflow. In turn, this leads to improved energy efficiency, performance, and a prolonged system lifespan.  

Homes that operate air cleaning products like air purifiers, air scrubbers and ERVs can expect fewer interruptions in the quality of their heating and cooling systems. Staying mindful of how air quality impacts HVAC systems is the first step to setting up your heating and cooling systems for longevity. 

 

Where Do I Start with My Indoor Air Quality? 

Air quality is an often-overlooked aspect of home ownership, but by addressing it you’re taking a pivotal step to keeping your house a safe place to live. Turning a blind eye to the ramifications of poor indoor breathing conditions can lead to a wide range of adverse health effects. 

We know that solving your home’s poor indoor air quality can be overwhelming, and taking the first step is usually the hardest part. When you’ve completed your research on devices like air scrubbers, air purifiers and ERVs, you may still have questions. This is when a Mattioni Expert can step in to help you with your decision. 

High Quality Air Filter | Best HVAC Company | King of Prussia, PA

The HVAC team at Mattioni is here to be a resource for you in your home ownership journey. We want to understand your indoor air quality priorities so that you can rest assured there are no unseen dangers in your home. 

If you still have questions about how to make this upgrade to your home’s ventilation system, call us at 610-400-8510 or schedule an appointment to speak with one of our HVAC Professionals. 

 

Proudly Serving Southeastern Pennsylvania Mattioni's Pennsylvania service area Downingtown | Kennett Square | Villanova |
Malvern | Newtown Square | And surrounding areas
Mattioni's Pennsylvania service area