What is Indoor Air Quality?

According to EPA statistics, the air quality indoors is on average as much as two to five times more polluted than outdoor air—and can even be as bad as 100 times more polluted. Unfortunately, this is a problem that affects everyone. And of course in Jacksonville, Florida we spend a lot of time indoors in the air conditioning. Poor indoor air quality can be a minor annoyance, of course, but it can also lead to some serious consequences including asthma, headaches, fatigue, lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and even lung cancer.

Poor indoor air quality is the fourth largest environmental threat in the United States. From dust mites and pollens to mildew and mold, contaminants are all around us. You may think that if you have a newer, modern home you are immune. However, this is not the case. Tightly sealed, well-insulated constructions are often the worst, as stale air is blown throughout every room of the structure. This means that something must be done—but what?

5 ways to improve the Indoor Air Quality inside of your Home:

  1. Air Filtration – Standard filtration functions only to capture large particles from the air before it enters your indoor coil to help keep it clean without restricting air flow. Fine particles can pass right through a standard filter. But it is not recommended to use highly restrictive filtration in place of your standard main air filter, as it will reduce the AC systems performance and can even cause expensive AC system failures. MERV 8 is ideal for airflow, and we recommend not exceeding MERV 11. A HEPA filtration system installed remotely to avoid obstructing your AC Systems air flow is the best way to improve living space air particle filtration.
  2. Air Sanitizing – We add a lot of extra stuff into the air where we eat, sleep and live. Hairsprays, chemical cleaners, micro-organisms, skin dander, virus’s, odors and so on. The things that our homes are made with and that we place into our homes, also contribute to poor indoor air quality from off gassing volatile organic compounds into the air (VOC’s). When VOC’s combine with other contaminants, bad air can become worse. We recommend U.V. based air sanitizers to destroy odor causing bacteria, micro-organisms & virus’s like Covid-19 or the flu, VOC’s and even allergens.
  3. Surface Sanitizing – We should all keep Floors, furniture, and other surfaces clean where we live, but don’t forget about Air Ducts and the inside of your AC system. All the surrounding air that you breathe can circulate through your AC system many times every hour. After you have your ducts and the interior surfaces of your indoor unit cleaned, we recommend installing an Ultraviolet light inside of the indoor unit to help keep your indoor unit coil, blower wheel and other interior surfaces clean.
  4. Dehumidification Systems – We all know that Florida is a very humid climate where micro-organisms, mold and algae thrives. AC systems remove moisture from indoor air when they are in cooling mode. But they only remove a random amount of moisture depending on how long it runs. Adding a whole house dehumidifier not only remove more moisture than an AC system alone, but it can give you more year-round control of how dry you would like to maintain the inside of your home. This especially applies to the mild seasons when it is not hot or cold enough outside for the AC or heat to run very long. Maintaining a less humid indoor climate can greatly reduce odor causing micro-organisms and even unwanted visible pests that cannot survive in less humid climates. Consider adding a whole house dehumidifier to improve the indoor air quality of your home.
  5. Ventilation – Indoor air can be stale and full of contaminants that build up over time. Outside air can also enter your home through nooks and crannies that allow dust, humidity, and other contaminants to draft in with it. Exhausting stale air out and/or bringing fresh air in, can produce tremendous results for your indoor air quality. It’s all about air exchange and/or assisting the indoor environment to be in a state of a minimum negative pressure, or even a positive pressure, when compared to the outdoor barometric pressure. Adding fresh air to your home alone can drastically improve your indoor air quality.
  6. Building Performance – Many people don’t think about how the structure of a home and it’s building materials play a major role with indoor air quality. Invisible and sometimes visible cracks occur all around the building envelope, including door and window seals, under sinks, behind electrical outlets and appliances, etc. These areas can be a source of infiltration where outside air and unwanted contaminants enter the living space or allow indoor air to escape. Blower Door Testing determines how much air leakage is taking place with your home and there are a variety of building envelope sealing solutions that solves these types of issues. Duct leakage testing can determine how much energy and air loss that is occurring with a degraded duct system. Flex duct systems typically last 10 to 20 years depending on several differing variables. Sealing or replacing leaky duct systems can improve your indoor air quality by increasing the living space positive pressure.

6 reasons that you should have your air ducts cleaned:

Here are some of the main reasons the EPA recommends having a professional duct cleaning.
1. Renovation:

If your home has been remodeled – especially if there was asbestos abatement, lead paint removal, mold remediation, or significant construction dust. Ducts should be sealed off during most renovations, but if they weren’t, dust or other debris may have found a home inside of your duct work.

2. Animals or Vermin:

If there is evidence of a pest infestation or nesting in your ducts or HVAC system, we suggest having the animals removed, then cleaning the ductwork and HVAC unit. If rodents have chewed or clawed into a helix flex duct system, the internal damage is usually so extensive that it warrants a full duct replacement.

3. Mold:

If there is visible mold growth inside of the air conditioning system or duct work.

4. Contaminants:

If noticeable debris, pet hair, odors, or other contaminants are coming from the air registers.

5. Illness:

If someone in your family is suffering from an unexplained allergy-related illness, and you’ve taken every other possible step to decontaminate your home.

6. Time:

Over time your air ducts can accumulate dust, bacteria or other contaminants that must be physically removed. (Air McCall recommends that you have your ducts cleaned every 3 to 5 years.)

Indoor Air Pollution and Health:

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.

Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.

Immediate Effects

Some health effects may show up shortly after a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution if it can be identified. Soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of some diseases such as asthma may show up, be aggravated, or worsened.

The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors including age and preexisting medical conditions. In some cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated or high-level exposures.

Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the time and place symptoms occur. If the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from the area, for example, an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of outdoor air coming indoors or from the heating, cooling, or humidity conditions prevalent indoors.

Long-Term Effects

Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.

While pollutants commonly found in indoor air can cause many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants. Further research is needed to better understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes and which occurs from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of time.

Why is particle pollution a cardiovascular health concern?

Cardiovascular disease accounts for the greatest number of deaths in the United States. One in three Americans has heart or blood vessel disease. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one in every three deaths is attributed to cardiovascular disease, and expenses related to cardiovascular disease represent 17 percent of overall national health expenditures (Heidenreich et al., 2011).

Traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as male gender, age, increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking account for about 50 percent of cardiac events. Other factors acting independently, or together with established risk factors, likely contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Air pollution exposure is one such risk factor and is known to exacerbate existing, and contribute to the development of, cardiovascular disease.

Evidence linking ambient particle pollution exposure and adverse effects on cardiovascular disease is particularly strong (Newby et al., 2014). The AHA concluded both that exposure to increased concentrations of fine particle pollution over a few hours to weeks can trigger cardiovascular disease-related mortality and nonfatal events and that exposures of a few years or more to increased concentrations of fine particle pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular mortality and decreases life expectancy (Brook et al., 2010).

On an individual level, the risk of cardiovascular disease from particle pollution is smaller than the risk from many other well-established factors. At the population level, acute and chronic exposure to particle pollution can increase the numbers of cardiovascular events, including

hospitalizations for serious cardiovascular events, such as coronary syndrome, arrhythmia, heart failure, and stroke, particularly in people with established heart disease.

Your patients with cardiovascular disease, including those who have angina, heart failure, particular arrhythmias, or that have risk factors for heart disease (e.g., those who are smokers, obese, or older adults) may be at greater risk of having an adverse cardiovascular event from exposure to fine particles. Unlike some risk factors that contribute to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, people can take steps to reduce their exposure to particle pollution. Ninety-two percent of patients with cardiovascular disease are not informed of health risks related to air pollution (Nowka et al., 2011). Reducing population exposure to fine particle pollution has been shown to be associated with decreases in cardiovascular mortality (even within a few years of reduced exposure) (Pope et al., 2009; Correia et al., 2013).

Air Cleaners and Air Filters in the Home:

One of the most effective ways to improve your indoor air are to reduce or remove the sources of pollutants and to ventilate with clean outdoor air. In addition, research shows that filtration can be an effective supplement to source control and ventilation. Using a portable air cleaner and/or upgrading the air filter in your furnace or central heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system can help to improve indoor air quality. Air purifiers or air sanitizers can be attached to a Central Air Conditioning System to treat the air throughout a home. Portable air cleaners and HVAC filters can reduce indoor air pollution; however, they cannot remove all pollutants from the air.

What is an Air Filter MERV rating?

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values, or MERVs, report a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns (µm).

· This value is helpful in comparing the performance of different filters

· The rating is derived from a test method developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) [see www.ashrae.org EPA WEBSITE].

· The higher the MERV rating the better the filter is at trapping specific types of particles.

MERV Rating Average Particle Size Efficiency in Microns
1-4 3.0 - 10.0 less than 20%
6 3.0 - 10.0 49.9%
8 3.0 - 10.0 84.9%
10 1.0 - 3.0 50% - 64.9%, 3.0 - 10.0 85% or greater
12 1.0 - 3.0 80% - 89.9%, 3.0 - 10.0 90% or greater
14 0.3 - 1.0 75% - 84%, 1.0 - 3.0 90% or greater
16 0.3 - 1.0 75% or greater

HEPA is a type of pleated mechanical air filter. It is an acronym for “high efficiency particulate air [filter]” (as officially defined by the U.S. Dept. of Energy). This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm). The diameter specification of 0.3 microns responds to the worst case; the most penetrating particle size (MPPS). Particles that are larger or smaller are trapped with even higher efficiency. Using the worst-case particle size results in the worst-case efficiency rating (i.e. 99.97% or better for all particle sizes).

All air cleaners require periodic cleaning and filter replacement to function properly. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations on maintenance and replacement.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MOLD & INDOOR AIR QUALITY:

Dust, pet dander, and smoke are common indoor pollutants, but did you know that other, more sinister things are blowing through your vents as well? The indoor air of even the cleanest homes can be contaminated with mold, mildew, bacteria, and fungus that can proliferate inside of air ducts, particularly in Florida where the warm and humid climate creates the perfect conditions for rapid mold growth. Living organisms can settle into the build of air duct debris and dust and rapidly multiply. It is important to have your air ducts cleaned every 3 years to 5 years. UV surface sanitizing lamps and air sanitizers should be considered after a duct cleaning is complete. UV helps keep surfaces and/or air cleaner to improve indoor air quality directly and/or indirectly.

If Mold is suspected inside of my Air Conditioning System, should I have the air ducts in my home cleaned?

  • The key to mold control is moisture control within a living space or its surroundings.
  • Suspected mold spores found thriving within an Air Conditioning Systems normally sources from or comes from indoor air as it is circulated through it. An AC system contains a wet evaporator coil that is an ideal environment for many mold spores to collect and spread very rapidly, causing odors and potentially other negative consequences. The lower that you keep your cool settings, the more an indoor coil will be wet and promote suspected mold growth. Restricted air flow from a dirty filter will also cause your indoor coil to be colder and wetter.
  • If mold is a problem in your home, you should determine the source and eliminate the source of the problem and clean up the problem as soon as possible.
  • It is important to dry water-damaged areas within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:

There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

  • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so be sure to schedule regular maintenances and ask your service provider to show you any suspected mold they say exists.
  • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. An AC Contractor can only suspect that mold exist based on its visible appearance.
  • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy, it most likely cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the source and conditions causing any mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will most likely continue.

HOW TO IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY:

In addition to dealing with general HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance services, Air McCall Heating and Air wants homeowners to understand the importance of indoor air quality. We can complete an air quality evaluation to better understand the best course of action for your home in the Jacksonville area. Our team will provide several practical options to help improve the air you and your family breathe every day.

  • Humidity control systems – installation and maintenance
  • UV surface sanitation systems – installation and maintenance
  • UV air sanitation systems – installation and maintenance
  • Advanced air particle filtration systems – installation and maintenance
  • Air duct cleaning – every 3 to 5 years
  • Air filter cleaning or replacement’s
  • General HVAC maintenance
  • Vacuum Indoor Carpets Regularly

LICENSED INDOOR AIR QUALITY EXPERTS IN JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA:

There are many reasons why you may want to consider Air McCall Heating and Air to work with you on your indoor air quality issues. 

Germicidal UV Light Systems:

These systems emit high-intensity UV beams to reduce bacteria, mold, and viruses from surfaces within your air conditioning system. A UV surface sanitizing lamp contributes to cleaner indoor air by reducing the build-up of micro-organisms at your indoor evaporator coil. Which also contributes towards better energy efficiency and heating and cooling capacity. A UV air sanitizing lamp treats the air itself by neutralizing things like microorganisms, viruses, and volatile organic compounds. Which improves what you are breathing and what is circulating throughout your AC and air duct systems.

Whole-Home Dehumidifiers:

Whole house dehumidifiers improve occupant comfort and can improve an indoor environment by reducing the moisture in the air that mold and mildew are attracted to. We all know that Florida is a very humid climate where micro-organisms, mold and algae thrives. AC systems remove moisture from indoor air when they are in cooling mode. But they only remove a random amount of moisture depending on how long it runs. Adding a whole house dehumidifier not only remove more moisture than an AC system alone, but it can give you more year-round control of your indoor air moisture levels. This especially applies to the mild seasons when it is not hot or cold enough outside for your cooling or heating to run for long, if at all. Maintaining a less humid indoor climate can reduce odor causing micro-organisms and even unwanted visible pests that cannot survive in less humid climates. Consider adding a whole house dehumidifier to improve the indoor air quality of your home.

Ventilation Systems:

Installing a ventilation system into your home can help keep indoor air from turning stuffy with a buildup of indoor living contaminants and helps to control building envelope infiltration, that brings in dust, humidity, and other surrounding contaminants from sections of a structure that are not entirely sealed. A fresh air intake combined with an actuated damper is one of the simplest ways improve the indoor air on an existing building design, by improving a positive pressure within the living space and by mechanically filtering, dehumidifying, and controlling a percentage of incoming outdoor air before it gets distributed throughout the home. Air exchange systems work great and bring in more air than they exhaust. But should only be installed on newly designed homes during construction, since more air conditioning tonnage may be required to overcome additional heat loads caused by its operation.

Air McCall Offers a Variety of Indoor Air Quality Solutions

Now, more than ever, people are seeking cleaner indoor air.

Air McCall’s Heating & Air Conditioning team members work hard to always keep homeowners and their comfort top of mind. We know you’re concerned about your home environment, and there are ways we can assist you when it comes to the health of your indoor air. As home comfort specialists, we can provide you with indoor air quality products that can help contain and diminish the spread of microscopic living organisms and viruses.

Air Filters

Top Tech Air Filtration Unit

Air McCall recommends filters that protect your AC system by improving the removal of airborne particulates. The Top Tech filter is designed for use in the return air duct of a forced air heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, and also has a very low airflow resistance, placing the least possible strain on system performance. We typically install this filter on most new AC systems. It provides a greater surface area, allowing it to collect dust and debris from the air. It offers MERV-8, MERV-11, and MERV-15 filtration – with up to 14 times more effective than a standard one-inch filter. And it can last 4 to 6 times longer than a standard one-inch filter, allowing you to replace it every 6 to 12 months versus monthly or quarterly changes. We recommend using a MERV 8 filter media on existing homes as existing duct systems tend to be undersized

Whole-Home Germicidal Air Filter & Purifiers

This Air Filter and Purifier is designed for use in the return air duct of a forced air heating, cooling, and ventilation system. The power supply is a highly reliable, dual voltage compatible, state-of-the-art, solid-state device and is proven for 96% germicidal/deactivation of human influenza virus, common cold virus, and streptococcus bacteria. It combines superior MERV 15 filtration efficiency with pathogen-killing technology to deliver maximum air purification and is designed to require minimal maintenance lasting between 6 to 12 months. Maintenance is limited to the replacement of the air purification cartridge and inspection/brush cleaning of the io Frequency of air purifier cartridge replacement and cleaning of the ionization array may vary depending on ductwork design and local environmental conditions.

April-Aire 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner

The April-Aire 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner has been rated #1 three years running by a leading products ratings magazine for some very good reasons: It electronically charges particles and traps them like a magnet better than any other air cleaner - using 72 square feet of Aprilaire-branded filtering media. This super-efficient whole-house cleaner removes: - 99% of airborne pollen, mold and spore-sized particles, - Eliminates 98% of airborne bacteria-sized particles, - Removes 94% of respirable dust that can trigger asthma, - Captures 80% of airborne particles the size of tobacco smoke, - Removes up to 80% of airborne virus-sized particles - something no other air cleaner in the industry can do! installs as part of your HVAC system and can be configured to run independently or each time your system conditions your air. Easy to maintain - it requires infrequent replacement of filtering media every 9 to 15 months and wiping down of ionizing wires, a process that can be completed in less than 20 minutes.

Ultraviolet (UV) Air Purification System

Sanuvox Ultraviolet Air Purifier

The Sanuvox R Max represents the new evolution in UV air purifier system. The high-efficiency patented design destroys airborne bio-chemical contaminants while providing important user information on the 3” LCD display. Installed into the return or supply plenum, the Sanuvox proprietary process maximizes contact time between the air and UV energy. It can kill viruses like Covid-19 and the flu. I has been used in government buildings for years because it can kill Anthrax. Thanks to its new Cobalt Catalyst Oxidation, VOCs, or volatile organic compounds are destroyed. With the ability to treat homes up to 4,000 sq.ft., the Sanuvox R Max represents the best in UV Air Purification.

Ultraviolet (UV) Surface Sanitizer

Sanuvox Ultraviolet Surface Sanitizer

The Saber Magnet 24V 16″ is an interior surface and coil cleaner using UV energy. This coil cleaner is designed to prevent and destroy bio-chemical contaminants on interior surfaces and air conditioning evaporator coil surfaces. A coil with bio-film (a coating of microbial growth) acts as an adhesive, attracting dirt and coating the fins of the coil. This results in an odor emanating from the equipment and a loss in energy efficiency as the equipment must work harder to pull air through a blocked airway. The Saber Magnet improves air conditioning efficiency, indoor air quality and the health of living space occupants. One bulb can be used to be practical, but it is more effective to use two bulbs inside of an indoor AC unit that contains an “A” shaped evaporator coil.

More Indoor Air Quality Products for the Jacksonville area

Dehumidification

– During those humid Florida summers, we’ve all heard that it’s not the heat that makes it unbearable, but the humidity. It is a fact that air conditioning does provide some dehumidification, but it just isn’t enough with our hot and often wet summers. When high humidity levels are externally high, the most powerful and effective solution is usually a central dehumidifier that can be integrated with your HVAC system. A central dehumidifier can use the ductwork of

your heating and cooling system to provide relief to all the areas of the home and can be configured to work even when the air conditioning is not running and there are many sizes available to properly fit your indoor space. We install them with features that allow the system to drain automatically, and to shut down in the event of a drainage malfunction so that you don’t have to worry about drainage buckets or plastic drain lines.
We’re not offering the following services yet …

Duct Sealing

– You may not think your ductwork should be a consideration for resolving indoor air quality, but unfinished or faulty ductwork can cause major deficiencies. Air McCall Heating and Air conditioning recommends air Leakage testing the ductwork in your building as the first corrective action. This will identify faulty, leaky, or incomplete ducts that might allow allergens to enter the home. Leaky ductwork in attics and crawlspaces can draw in unwanted contaminants, cause pressurization issues in your home, and reduce the efficiency of your central HVAC system. We have the equipment and the training to properly test duct systems and determine if there are leakage levels that need to be identified, sealed, and protected for years of worry-free operation. Once sealed, we will perform another air leakage test to prove and ensure the expected positive results.

Building Envelope Sealing

– The design and structure of your home plays a vital role in air conditioning performance, indoor air quality, and other environmental conditions. Air McCall Heating and Air Conditioning recommends building envelope air pressure testing to help determine if a surrounding building envelope is causing negative results within a living space. Therma imagers are also used to test the building material surfaces.

Call us today to schedule a visit with one of our professional service technicians.
(904) 288-6110

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