Ken Kontra started his career in heating and cooling services 42 years ago, and has since branched out in both the HVAC and electrical trades, building an arsenal of knowledge and experience. He has been working with Haller for over 20 years.
Not sure what’s lurking in the air around you — or how it might be impacting your household? Never fear, Ken is here with a wealth of knowledge and advice when it comes to improving indoor air quality. We sat down with him to get his take on what homeowners should know, and how you can safeguard your health with good indoor air care.
Q: What can (and can’t) travel through my indoor air?
A: There’s a lot more floating around you than you might realize. That’s part of what makes indoor air quality (IAQ) such a sneaky issue in our homes — the invisible pollutants!
Some common contaminants are allergens like pollen and dust, germs, gas (like carbon monoxide), bacteria, and viruses, including the coronavirus (COVID-19). While you can’t always shine a light on these hazards, you can sidestep them with a careful routine.
Q: Is my system helping or hurting?
A: Your heating, cooling, and ventilation systems can certainly help improve indoor air quality, but only if they’re properly cared for. Regular system maintenance is key if you expect it to keep your indoor air clean and fresh.
There are also a few IAQ-specific systems that can be installed to amplify your effort against indoor air pollution, like:
- Air purification systems
- Whole home humidifiers and dehumidifiers
- Recovery ventilation systems
- Smart thermostats
Some additions and improvements to your existing systems can also help. Air filters in heating and cooling systems can help filter pollutants out of your home’s air. The size and type of filter impacts how well it can work, so make sure you’ve chosen the right one.
The next step up is an air scrubber: If you have an HVAC system with ductwork, an Air Scrubber by Aerus a great addition that helps remove contaminants, gasses, germs, and bacteria from your air.
Q: Is there an easy way to tell if my air is good or bad?
A: There are a couple ways to tell if your indoor air quality is up to par: looking out for indoor air pollution symptoms and testing your home’s IAQ.
Watch for respiratory symptoms, headaches and dizziness, and worsening allergies, especially during allergy season. These are clear markers of air quality issues.
When you suspect your IAQ isn’t great, the best thing to do is test it. A DIY route is to either use an always-on IAQ monitoring system or separate testing devices for each of the various pollutants. But consider having a professional inspection at least once or twice a year — in either the spring or fall, when the seasons are changing. Experts can catch something you miss.
Q: How does poor air affect my family? Are my children at higher risk?
A: It probably comes as no surprise that the air your family breathes on a daily basis will affect their health, and children can be at greater risk for a couple of reasons.
First, young lungs are still growing, which can leave them vulnerable to airborne risks. Kids also tend to spend a great deal of time indoors, and because they’re closer to the ground, the air they breathe is more likely to contain dust, dirt, and other pollutants that hide in your floors and carpets.
Regular cleaning is important when there are little bodies crawling and playing on the floors.
Q: What’s the best thing I can do for better indoor air?
A: Improvements fall into two buckets: what you can do yourself, and what your systems and professionals can do to help.
There are regular steps that you can take yourself to improve the quality of your home’s air. Try to get into the habit of practicing IAQ-conscious behaviors regularly to see long-term benefits, and talk to a pro about the systems and devices that can take you to the next level. Humidifiers, air purifiers, and even smart thermostats are excellent places to start.
Q: What can I do to improve the air in my office or commercial space?
A: To take care of your air in a larger space that’s used by plenty of people (and contains plenty of devices and compounds), turn to HVAC professionals to keep your systems tested, cleaned, and maintained. They can help determine which system additions or new technology like touchless devices would be a wise investment for commercial IAQ in your facility.
Think of three crucial goals when it comes to improving air quality: purification, circulation, and ventilation. Make this your mantra, and you’ll help keep you and those around you healthier and happier, especially as you spend more time inside together.