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Winter IAQ Testing Is Vital to Heating and Cooling Services

Heating and cooling services should target IAQ (indoor air quality) testing as a major winter prerequisite for two main reasons. While there are a number of different kinds and sources of pollutants, there are only a few factors that significantly magnify their impact over the winter months.

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IAQ Testing During Winter – Reason #1

There is increased restriction in the exchange of fresh air and overall airflow. All buildings, new and old, naturally restrict airflow and provide places and conditions for a number of very diverse contaminants to accumulate. But during the winter months, this is magnified due to a few key contributing factors:

  • Winter is a time when doors and windows are usually shut tight to keep heat in the home.

  • Current building practices have taken insulation and vapor barriers, window and door construction, and other refined practices to extremes, where little or no air is allowed to flow between inside and outside during winter months.

The consequence is that air quality suffers, as the same air is retained and re-circulated, along with its contaminants. There are technologies to combat this, but they must be adequately employed and maintained. The best way to assess the situation in your home is to include IAQ testing as an integral part of your annual heating and cooling services.

Winter IAQ Testing – Reason #2

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  • Along with winter comes a significant increase in available moisture to all homes.

  • The issue is magnified since moisture is less likely to evaporate during wet and cool weather. This extends not only to the water vapor in the air, but to that of unknown leaks that may have occurred.

  • Moisture is also more likely to be trapped in the tightened enclosure of the home.

  • Long-standing roof and weather leaks reactivating with new rain can aggravate already existing mold, bacterial or viral growth.

Heating and Cooling Services: Hazards Exposed by IAQ Testing

  • Mold: Probably the first thing many people think about these days, due to the emphasis placed on it in citing respiratory concerns.

  • Bacteria and Viruses: Be aware that the same conditions that support mold can also promote bacterial and viral growth.

  • Since a number of small animals, such as rats, mice and other vermin tend to come indoors to escape the weather, they can bring in diseases, as well. If the biological leavings of these animals are apparent, you should take steps to rid yourself of the animals and their evidence.

  • Chemical Odors: Chemical evaporation (or “off-gassing”) can come from a plethora of sources: toys, clothing, drapery, foam cushions and mattresses, wallboard, carpets, fire retardants in fabrics and even computer casings. An IAQ test will give you an opportunity to become aware of the degree of chemical evaporation in your home and make some decisions as to how you may want to handle it. It is especially critical in winter to identify and respond to any such conditions due to the tendency for chemicals to accumulate more readily in a tightly sealed home.

There are steps that can be taken through improved ducting, filtering, repairs and other heating and cooling services that will improve the quality of indoor air. Remember, many potential air quality hazards do not smell and are not otherwise readily seen or sensed. Only a thorough indoor air quality test conducted by experts in heating and cooling services will reveal the true nature of your household air. Contact a trained and experienced HVAC technician and ask for this test.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Alley and Co. Heating/Air and a clickable link back to this page.

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