Is Your Furnace Impacting the Indoor Air Quality in Your Home?
Your home’s heating system is intricately linked to your home's indoor air quality. When your heating system is operating at peak efficiency and is maintained properly, it should keep you and your family comfortably warm and healthy.
When it's not working as it should, your furnace can decrease your indoor air quality. Many homeowners deal with the adverse effects of indoor air quality and don’t realize what the cause is. Some obvious signs that you’re struggling with low indoor air quality are exacerbated allergies, coughing and sneezing, dry skin and hair, and fatigue. You may also notice excessive amounts of dust in your home.
How Things Work
It helps to have a little background on how the heating component of your HVAC unit works. Your gas furnace receives a low-voltage electrical signal from the thermostat when the temperature in your home drops below the setting on the thermostat. That signal causes the motor to purge any leftover gas from the main component of your furnace and then, after a quick warm-up, the gas valve opens and ignition of the burner occurs. Heat is created around which air flows and as the furnace heats up, the blower pushes the heated air through the ductwork and out into your house.
Once the air temperature in your home matches the setting of the thermostat, the gas valve closes and the burners shut off. The furnace blower continues to run for a bit so all the warm air sitting in the ducts is distributed before the heating cycle ends. Many of these components of your HVAC system will benefit from annual maintenance. That being said, there are things you can do to boost the indoor air quality of your home.
Change the Air Filter
The air filter that’s in your furnace is the first step in removing dirt, debris, and contaminants from your system, your air ducts, and eventually your lungs. There are a number of factors that can lead to buildup in your air filter including pet dander, pollen, and dust mites. If the air filter is clogged and dirty, it restricts the airflow through the unit. This situation can do everything from impacting your home's indoor air quality to reducing the energy efficiency of your system and shorten its lifespan. The air filter in your furnace should be cleaned or replaced at least every three months.
To further boost indoor air quality, upgrade to a higher quality air filter featuring tighter weaves. These filters can help trap smaller contaminants, resulting in cleaner air and a healthier home environment. Top-quality filters can be identified by their MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). You should consult an HVAC professional prior to upgrading the air filter on your furnace to ensure filter compatibility.
Have Your Ducts Cleaned
Having a professional HVAC company clean your home’s ducts is one of the easiest ways to boost your indoor air quality. Your home’s ductwork is a vital part of the HVAC system. Neglecting your air ducts allows contaminants to gather in your system and remain there, cycling through your home. Dust, pet dander, and cobwebs in your ducts can get pushed out into the air circulating in your home so it’s a good idea to have your ducts cleaned to keep your indoor air quality high. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you have your air ducts cleaned every 5-7 years or as needed while the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) recommends every 3-5 years for cleaning.
Integrate an Air Filtration System
Another way to increase your home’s indoor air quality is with a whole-home air filtration system. One example of a whole-house air purifying system is the Perfect 16 from IQAir. This product includes high-performance, high-quality filters and provides excellent coverage for your entire home. GV’s Heating and Cooling is an authorized dealer for IQAir and can help you learn more about how a whole-house air purifying system can be integrated into your HVAC system.
Add a Whole-House Humidifier
A whole-house humidifier can be installed on your heating system to add moisture to the warm air being distributed throughout your home, making you more comfortable. Higher humidity levels make it feel warmer, allowing you to be more comfortable at lower temperatures. Because your heater doesn’t have to work as hard, it saves energy which results in lower heating costs.
Some will point out that humidifiers only work when your heating system is running which is only a fraction of the time. Variable-speed furnaces and heat pumps that operate on lower settings can improve your humidifier’s performance. A licensed HVAC professional can help you understand what the best options are for your home.
Bottom line, you’ll want to take proactive measures in regards to your heating system. Change your air filters regularly and have your ducts inspected and cleaned if necessary. Talk to your HVAC service about options for whole-house purifying systems and humidifiers. Be diligent about scheduling your annual furnace inspection to make sure things are running cleanly and efficiently. Call immediately if you suspect that your furnace is functioning improperly.
Residents in the Chicago North Shore area have trusted GVs Heating and Cooling for all of their HVAC needs for almost 30 years. GV’s offers annual maintenance service to help you be proactive in finding problems early and emergency service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To learn more about improving your indoor air quality, to schedule a maintenance visit, or for questions about your HVAC system, contact the experts at GV’s Heating and Cooling.