Clean Indoor Air May Improve Health

According to recent studies by the Environmental Protection Agency and American Lung Association, the air in our homes can be up to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. Because a majority of our time is spent indoors, exposure to these pollutants can have a negative impact on our family’s health.

healthy living air qualityOver the past two decades, the demand for energy-efficient homes has contributed to poor ventilation, thus increasing the number of pollutants circulating within our indoor air. By not allowing air to flow through the home, harmful particles become trapped, putting its occupants at a higher risk of developing respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and COPD.

In most instances, homes that with indoor air quality problems tend to have a specific (sometimes obvious) pollution source that can be identified and removed, or at least controlled. Some of the most common pollutant sources include: high particulate levels (dust, smoke, pet dander), the off-gassing of VOCs from furnishings and building materials (formaldehyde, benzene, etc.), and elevated mold spore levels. And because the average person spends a great deal of time indoors inside inhaling these concentrated airborne contaminants, potential health hazards exist as a result.

One of the most common and most serious threats to health caused by airtight housing is the exposure to toxic mold. When moisture becomes trapped inside the dwelling, mold growth usually occurs. Once black mold contaminates a home, it is difficult, if not impossible to remove. Health issues resulting from breathing in mold cells include chronic headaches, fatigue and respiratory infections. In some cases, mold-related health problems can be deadly.

HEPA Air Purifiers Help Clean the Air

HEPA filtration is the best and most effective solution for cleaning the indoor air. Many individuals who have suffered with allergies and respiratory illnesses have experienced significant relief due to breathing clean, filtered air from the use of a HEPA air purifier. Eliminating most of the concentrated airborne contaminants from the indoor air leaves the airstream much cleaner and healthier for those living in energy-efficient homes.

In the 1940s, during the Manhattan Project, the U.S. Atomic Energy created HEPA filtration for the sole purpose of removing toxic radioactive dust contaminants. Since then, HEPA air purifiers have been used widely in environments where clean air is a necessity, including operating rooms, pharmaceutical labs, as well as homes and offices. HEPA filtration can effectively remove particles and allergens as tiny as 0.3 microns, including mold spores, dander, pollen, soot, and smoke. In addition to increasing ventilation within your home, the use of a HEPA air purifier is a good investment for providing you and your family with safer, cleaner air to breathe.

Author Profile:

clean air plusThis guest blog post on indoor air quality was provided by Todd Clark of Clean Air Plus. Mr. Clark sells HEPA air purifiers for medical, commercial and residential applications.

Offering only the finest, most effective air purifier brands in the industry, Clean Air Plus has served both U.S. and Canadian customers since its inception in 2003.

Putting Your Indoor Air Quality to the Test

The EPA claims that people spend about 90 percent or more of their time indoors which, while it may seem like a safe place to be, may end up doing you and your family more harm than good. The quality of the air inside your home can actually be up to five times more polluted than what blows in from outside.

improve air qualityUp to 15,000 children are hospitalized annually due to respiratory infections, many of which are caused or aggravated by poor indoor air quality.

Several factors go into making indoor air quality, IAQ for short, potentially harmful, ranging from simple things like pet dander, mildew and even dry cleaning chemicals to what is known as the Deadly Three: carbon monoxide, secondhand smoke and radon gas.

To help fight these elements, you need to first examine your own home’s indoor air quality. This can be done in many ways, the most common being do-it-yourself kits that can cost from $50 to $1,600 depending on the amount of pollutants to be checked for and the overall breadth of the test.

Many are widely available on the Internet and these at-home kits involve relatively simple instructions on how to collect samples of air quality throughout your home. For these tests, you’ll want to keep all windows closed for up to 24 hours prior as well as maintaining indoor air circulation via ceiling fans during the testing period.

After the samples are collected they are mailed off to a specified testing facility that will analyze the results and send their report back to you. Of course, if DIY home maintenance seems too difficult or time-consuming, and some of these kits can be, there are plenty of professionals in your local area who can test your IAQ for you.

Other Ways to Monitor and Improve Your Air Quality

  • Install a CO detector – Carbon monoxide kills 400 people and sickens thousands each year. If you have a garage, make sure never to idle the car or use other fuel-burning machines with the garage door closed.
  • Test for Radon – DIY kits are available through the mail and in many hardware stores. They are easy to use and relatively inexpensive, but make sure to get ones that are either state-certified or approved by the National Radon Proficiency Program.
  • Check any asbestos-laden materials for damage, water and wear, but be careful not to touch or disturb them: asbestos is at its most dangerous when airborne. If anything looks suspicious, get a professional’s help to remove them.
  • Always maintain a high level of ventilation throughout your home.
  • Ban all smoking indoors.
  • Get rid of dust mites – clean carpets and upholstery regularly with a HEPA-filtered vacuum, and launder bed linen in super-hot water every two weeks.

Important Air Quality Facts

pet allergiesThere’s no such thing as a “hypoallergenic pet.” With dander, hair shedding, urine, saliva and feces as breeding grounds for allergies, no animal is ever completely allergen free. Make sure to brush your pets outside if possible, and allow them ample time outdoors. This goes especially for birds, and their cages, if you want to avoid respiratory issues.

Countless households contain some form of air filter or purifier nowadays, but it’s important to know their limits. Many dangerous particles are too heavy or fine to be trapped by these purifiers, so don’t rely on them alone to cleanse the air in your home.

To find out more ways to monitor, test and improve the air quality in your home, visit the Environmental Protection Agency online at, and see how you can best safeguard your home and family.

Dryer Fire Statistics

dryer fire firefighters

Dryer fires are a cause of house fires that is more common than many home owners realize. Proper cleaning and maintenance of clothes dryers is the best way of avoiding this not so rare tragedy.

Every year in the U.S., there are an average of 13,000 house fires caused by clothes dryers. There are also approximately 370 injuries, ten deaths and $97 million dollars in property damage. Most of this damage and destruction is preventable by having the dryer duct cleaned regularly and the dryer serviced when it is not running correctly.

Causes of Dryer Fires

dryer lint buildupTypical consumer drying machines can be electric or gas; both types are susceptible to fire due to the combustible nature of accumulated lint build-up (see right). A dryer works by removing water from all the fabric placed inside the appliance. This process creates lint, which becomes compressed overtime in the ducts of the appliance.

A dryer has a motor that rotates the drum and a flame, or electric heating element, that dries clothing, towels and fabric. Both generate substantial heat (in addition to consuming large amount of electricity).

Good ventilation of this heat is needed so that the dryer will operate efficiently, as well as for safety. And if lint is causing a blockage, ventilation becomes virtually nonexistent.

Inadequate Ventilation

Unfortunately, dryers are typically installed in a tight location, such as in a closet or pressed up against a wall, which restricts access and ventilation. Obstruction of the dryer duct is the biggest cause of these fires. This problem accounts for over one third of all dryer fires. Lint is the biggest culprit for obstructing a duct. This is most common with flexible tubing, especially ones that are long, or have bends in them. Most homeowners assume that by simply cleaning out the lint trap after every cycle, they’ve eliminated all lint caught up in their machine. This is not the case. Lint, dust and debris builds up in the ducts as well as in and around the lint trap and is not easily removed. At least, not without the proper tools.

Clogged Ducts

Flexible ducts are prone to sagging, leading to a pile up of lint which then prevents the hot air from getting out. A blocked duct can cause overheating of the motor, which can then ignite lint and lead to a fire. This is especially true for condominiums and multi-story apartment complexes.

Bird Nests

bird nest in dryer ductBirds and insects are often attracted to openings in the outside of buildings and choose these locations for nest building. As with lint build up, nests will keep air from flowing properly and the motor can overheat igniting material that has accumulated underneath the dryer.

Damaged or missing lint screens can also result in lint being drawn into the interior of the dryer and be another route to fire. Thermostats and limit switches that are malfunctioning are another source of fires, along with flexible ducts that get crushed.

How to Prevent a Fire

Indications that a dryer is not working right in ways that could lead to a fire include:

  • The dryer taking longer and longer to dry clothes;
  • Clothing that is still damp or extra hot when removed from a normal drying cycle;
  • A duct flap that does not open when the dryer is operating;
  • A low amount of air exiting the duct when the dryer is running.

The best ways of preventing a dryer fire are cleaning the lint trap every time the dryer is used and having the duct that leads outside cleaned and inspected at least once a year. More frequent cleaning might be needed if the dryer is used a lot. Replacing flexible tubes with ridged metal ducts makes it harder for material to build up and will also make cleaning easier. If there is a fire, metal ducts are more likely to contain it.

Do-It-Yourself Dryer Vent Cleaning

Removing lint and reducing a fire hazard in your home is by no means difficult to do by yourself. For $20 to $30 bucks you can pick up a vent cleaning kit from your local hardware store, which typically contains a wire, circular brush, some rods, and some vacuum attachments. The video below is a great walkthrough for how to clean and maintain your dryer ducts by yourself.

Having the dryer duct cleaned is also good for the life of the dryer. It will last longer and cost less to run. Most importantly, it will greatly reduce the chances of your house becoming a dryer fire statistic. If home improvement is not your forte, give us a ring and we can come out and clean your dryer vents for you. Our duct cleaning company charges only $69 for a thorough, professional cleaning, no mess, no fuss.

Need your ducts cleaned as well? Contact us about our $99 Platinum Air Duct Package. This offer includes dryer vent cleaning, air duct and coil cleanings, a complete duct system diagnostic, and complimentary organic deodorizing. For more information, contact our friendly customer service department at (561) 404-0340.