Your indoor air quality (IAQ) is a year-round concern. This is especially true if there are people with chronic respiratory ailments living in your Bastrop, TX, home. While keeping your HVAC air filter clean will limit airborne contaminants, summertime brings many season-specific IAQ concerns. These concerns make it worth investing in air purification devices that will benefit your home not only during the summer but throughout the rest of the year as well. Read on to learn why air purification is important during the summer months and what you can do to make improvements.
Understanding the Limitations of Your HVAC System
Central heating and cooling systems have multiple purposes. They regulate indoor temperatures, but they also control indoor humidity and filter out allergens and contaminants. With a clean air filter, your HVAC system can extract a fair amount of dirt, dander, pollen, and other particulates from your indoor air. If you choose to upgrade your standard HVAC air filter to one that has a higher maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating, it will capture and retain a larger variety of contaminants and reduce the presence of indoor pollution.
The most important thing to know about HVAC air filters is that they exist to protect HVAC equipment. The limited IAQ benefits they provide are a pleasant side effect of their primary function. Regularly replacing air filters helps them keep dust and other particulates from settling on internal components, such as your air conditioner’s evaporator coil and blower fan. In this way, clean and high-functioning filters prevent overheating, condensation, short cycling, and many other common HVAC problems. With equipment protection as their ultimate goal, standard air filters allow many micro-fine contaminants to pass right through them.
To a degree, the limitations of HVAC air filters even extend to the different upgraded options that exist. As MERV ratings go up, filtration capabilities increase. However, airflow at the interior of HVAC systems experiences a relative decline. Choosing the highest-rated filter that you can find might mean having fewer contaminants in your living environment, but it can also leave you with an under-performing air conditioner.
Filters with incredibly high MERV ratings sometimes create humidity regulation problems that result in building interiors feeling damp and heavy. This unfortunate consequence of increased HVAC air filtration actually limits the ability of consumers to use certain high-rated filters without having their HVAC systems modified first.
Whole-house air purifiers are designed to pick up the allergens, pathogens, and contaminants that standard and even upgraded air filters cannot. Best of all, they can do so without causing significant AC system stress or creating indoor humidity concerns. These air purifiers are installed directly onto HVAC ducting, and they’re streamlined to seamlessly coordinate with the activities of heating and cooling equipment. If you want to improve the quality of your indoor air during the summer months, having a whole-house air purifier installed is the safest and most effective way to go.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Having an Airtight Home
Spring in Bastrop is a great time to open your windows and doors and ventilate your home. Periodically letting outdoor air flow through the building clears out contaminants that would otherwise remain. However, during the heating and cooling seasons, it can be beneficial to maintain an airtight home. In addition to shutting all windows and doors, you should consider sealing up cracks and gaps in building materials, adding insulation, and taking other efficiency measures. This can prevent conditioned air from escaping outdoors, which has the potential to reduce your home energy bills, decrease your carbon footprint, and reduce HVAC system stress. Unfortunately, an airtight home can also increase indoor air pollution.
In summer, outdoor pollen counts can be very high. The ground is drier, and loose dirt is more likely to get kicked up. The density of pollution inside buildings rises as these allergens and contaminants increase in abundance, especially when airflow throughout homes is reduced. Having supplementary IAQ measures in place is highly recommended.
What Air Purifiers Can Do That HVAC Air Filters Cannot
Air purification and air filtration are two different things. Although air purifiers can remove the same airborne particulates that air filters can, they also clean indoor air. Air purifiers can remove pathogens and viruses that cause illness. They can eliminate chemical contaminants that come from burning candles and using chemical-based cleaners and solvents. Air purifiers can even eliminate the chemicals that are released by unsealed particle board, paint, flooring and furniture adhesives, and general building materials.
It’s important to note that although off-gassing, cooking, and surface cleaner use are year-round contributors to IAQ concerns, they can have a much greater impact on your indoor air quality during the summer. The chemicals that float through your indoor air can become more prevalent based on the humidity levels, which are often an issue during the summer months.
Who Benefits Most From Proactive IAQ Measures in the Summer?
The installation of integrated IAQ equipment like whole-house air purifiers, air scrubbers, and media filters is guaranteed to benefit everyone in your household throughout the summer. This equipment can eliminate common and season-specific indoor contaminants that are left unaddressed by HVAC air filtration. However, proactive IAQ improvements can be especially beneficial for aging adults, those with terminal illnesses, infants, and small, vulnerable pets. These building residents are less resilient against constant exposure to indoor contaminants. However, they often benefit from the use of cooling equipment when temperatures start to rise in the summer.
For residents with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and allergies, the elimination of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), exhaust chemicals, allergens, and off-gassed chemicals often results in symptoms that are both less frequent and less severe. It’s also important to note that even if your HVAC air filter is removing pet dander, pollen, and other common allergens, an air purifier will have the capacity to remove even more throughout the heat of the summer when you’re keeping your windows closed more often.
Summer Brings a Heightened Risk of Wildfires in Bastrop
Although only 25% of Bastrop has a moderate to high wildfire risk, these natural disasters affect the air quality of everyone in the area when they occur nearby. The smoke and contamination that result from a fire don’t remain contained to a limited area. During wildfires, residents are advised to shelter in place and use their air conditioners for cooling only after they’ve closed their air intake dampers and set their units to recirculate the air indoors. Turning air conditioners off when temperatures are in the upper 90s can be uncomfortable and downright dangerous.
Unfortunately, even efforts to prevent the intake of contaminated outdoor air won’t protect air conditioners or building residents from the effects of wildfires entirely. Although massive wildfire events don’t occur every year, having an air purifier in your home can make life a lot easier when they do. Whole-house air purification systems can eliminate the airborne contaminants that both standard and upgraded HVAC air filters cannot. They can also limit the impact that smoke and smoke odors have on home cooling equipment.
Bastrop’s massive wildfire of 2011 was a lesson in preparation. Increasingly high summertime temperatures and frequent drought conditions make it important to streamline your home for safety and comfort before the unexpected occurs.
We’re committed to helping residents of Bastrop, TX, improve and protect their indoor air quality. In addition to advanced indoor air quality solutions, we also provide air conditioner, heat pump, ductless mini-split, and furnace services. To find out more about the benefits of air purification or to schedule an appointment, contact Blue Ribbon Cooling & Heating today.