The Impact of Indoor Air Quality & How HVAC Can Help

With the Canadian wildfires last summer turning the air in the Midwest into a hazy, smoky mess, we’re all-too-familiar with how the quality of outdoor air can affect our breathing and ultimately our health. The same is true for indoor air quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency tells us poor indoor air quality can cause dizziness, headaches, eye and throat irritation and a whole host of other short-term symptoms. Long term exposure to indoor air pollutants can result in more serious health problems, having been linked to respiratory diseases like asthma and even heart disease. Older adults, kids and people with certain health conditions may be more vulnerable than others.

What causes poor indoor air quality, what can homeowners do about it, and how can the right HVAC system help? Let’s look at this topic in detail.


The two major causes of poor indoor air quality are pollutants and ventilation problems.

Pollutants can be any of a whole host of things – smoking, cooking with gas, personal care products (if you have a teenage boy who uses body spray, we feel your pain), pet dander, mold, and much more.  It can also include things like new furniture, paint or carpeting. Smoggy, smoky outdoor air can waft into our homes through open windows. And the most dangerous indoor air pollutants, radon and carbon monoxide, have no smell but can be deadly.

Ventilation problems can occur in new, tightly-sealed buildings or be the result of clogged or blocked vents, poor airflow throughout the house, and other issues.


What homeowners can do

What are some simple fixes your customers can do to improve their air quality? Here are some ideas.

Ventilate the home. When the outdoor air quality is good, let that fresh air in! It’s especially important when you’re cooking, cleaning with chemicals, painting or doing something particularly stinky.

Use less harsh cleaning products. Try non-toxic, more natural cleaners that won’t give off that chemical smell.

Banish mold. Mold thrives in humidity, so a dehumidifier is a must if you’ve got a wet basement. But make sure to have adequate fans and ventilation in bathrooms where people shower, too.

Install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. Make sure to change the batteries every six months.

Test your home for radon. Radon is naturally occurring and can be in homes of any age. If you’re not sure how or where to get a test, here’s a link from the EPA with resources.

Get an air purifier. Room air purifiers are simple to use – plug ‘em in and change the filter periodically – and they work great to help purify individual rooms. 

All of these simple fixes will improve indoor air quality. For more permanent solutions, that’s where HVAC comes in.


How HVAC can help

As an HVAC pro, you can help your customers improve their indoor air quality in a variety of ways. Here are some HVAC solutions to suggest. 

Whole-house air purifiers. Also called in-duct purification systems, these units can be installed directly into existing HVAC ductwork near the furnace or air handler. They purify the air by trapping dust and other particles. An added plus, they help the HVAC system itself work better, too.

HVAC filters. All standard systems have filters, but many newer systems can accommodate upgraded models like pleated or HEPA filters that can capture finer allergens and pollutants.

Venting inspection and upgrade. Some indoor air quality problems can be due to poor venting of things like bathroom or kitchen fans, or even appliances like dryers. An inspection of the home’s venting and ductwork is a good idea, and might uncover opportunities to install proper ventilation systems.

New HVAC system. If the home’s existing HVAC is a dinosaur heading toward extinction, suggest a system that comes equipped with a sophisticated, powerful air purification component.

With these simple steps, everyone can breathe easy.

Brand Spotlight

  • delta logo
  • moen logo
  • ruud logo