Indoor Air Quality IAQ



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Indoor Air Quality

What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ for short)?

First if you got here from the duct cleaning page welcome. If you haven't seen the duct cleaning page you should check it out as it is related to this page.

Okay on with the show. IAQ is simply the quality of air inside a building such as your house, office building, store, etc... Usually when somebody mentions IAQ they are talking about pollution or the lack of such as dust, pollens, mold spores, viruses and other allergens. In my opinion it includes everything such as temperature, humidity, simply air movement as well as pollution. On this page I will discuss IAQ in the terms of pollution and humidity. Temperature and air movement can be found in the furnace and Air conditioning pages.

Why is IAQ important?

The EPA and its Science Advisory Board have ranked indoor air pollution as one of the top five risks to public health (Wigle, 2003)
The EPA has a ton of information here

There are literally thousands of websites with information on IAQ. Just go to and search for indoor air quality health concerns. You will find discussions on mold, mildew, radon, allergens, bacteria, viruses and plenty of other things.

Why is it a concern now and wasn't 20-30 years ago? As we strive to build tighter, more energy-efficient houses, we’ve created a problem that is affecting the health of thousands of men, women and children daily …

  1. We have much tighter construction in today's homes than homes of the past so there are less air changes from outside to inside so pollutants have a greater chance to build up and become more concentrated in our homes.
  2. A lot more people have air conditioners so our doors and windows remain closed much more today than in the past therefore less indoor air is exchanged with outdoor air allow pollutants to become more concentrated indoors than outdoors.
  3. Whether as adults we are spending more time working indoors or children playing indoors more than outside it is a fact as a nation we spend more time indoors than we have at any time in the past.
  4. For what ever the reason there are many people who have asthma and allergies than in the past. This added to the fact we spend more time indoors in tightly constructed houses makes indoor air quality that much more of a concern.

What can we do about IAQ and indoor pollution specifically?

While it is a growing concern and we will never have perfect air inside or outside there some steps we can take that may help.

  1. Spend more time outside, quit smoking and all the overused cliched other personal choices you have to make etc...
  2. Weather permitting we can open our doors and windows to "air out the place"
  3. More importantly how can Hot 'n' Cold help you improve your indoor air quality:
  1. Get your furnace, air conditioner, air purifier, humidifier cleaned/serviced at least once a year. An AC cleaning by Hot 'n' Cold will include cleaning your indoor AC condensing coil. The coil is major collector of dust and possibly mold, mildew, bacteria and virus. (not a major concern if you have it properly cleaned every year). If you suffer from allergies or other concerns you may consider adding an AC coil cleaning to your fall furnace cleaning for small extra charge.
  2. Install a whole house air purifier. These attach to your existing furnace/air handler and clean your air when ever your furnace or air conditioner is running. We can even set it up so that blower stays on continuously so you always have the air filtered. (Generally you need a newer furnace with a blower designed to run continuously. These new systems are HEPA rated and filter up to 99.98% of particles .3 micron or larger. There are a few different brands and types that work differently and the ratings fluctuate but the whole house air purifiers work so much better than any room purifier could hope to. (Those 1" filters that most of you have in your furnaces now are only there to protect the furnace insides and they do not appreciably filter the air as far as air quality goes. There are 1" filters that claim to filter the air for quality but these can be bad for the furnace as they can restrict air flow through the filter too much.)
  3. Install a whole house humidifier to add moisture to the air. No this won't improve pollution but air quality is more than just pollution. Here in Colorado we have thinner drier air than the rest of the country. In the winter it is the worst and can cause health problems such as dry eyes, dry skin, nose bleeds etc. A humidifier can help alleviate this.

    A humidifier will add moisture to the air going through the furnace every time it runs as long as the controls tell it that the humidity is low. Most of the humidifiers that we install include a humidistat where can set the humidity level you want but some are just a dial with high thru low. When you bought your house your home inspector may have mentioned a humidifier if there was one existing in the house at the time as being bad (mold, mildew, moisture in the furnace often being cited as reasons) and suggested to remove it. In my opinion this is totally unjustified. If properly installed and maintained you will minimize any chance of water leaking into the furnace and causing problems. The moisture issue is also a non concern as the highest you can set the humidistat to is 45% humidity which is the low side of what is considered comfortable. (45-55% being the generally accepted normal comfort zone.) What does that mean? It means you are not going to add enough moisture to your air to have mold/mildew issues or cause problems in the furnace due to moisture content of the air. Whew that was a long explanation. Some more info on humidifiers here.

  4. This may sound like I am pulling your leg and probably belongs with the air purifier section but I am adding it here. (It is legitimate but might not be reason enough alone) If your furnace and/or air conditioner are not properly sized upgrading to a new furnace/air conditioner can help your indoor air quality. I know right about now you are saying, "Now he is just trying to rip me off" but honestly I am not. If your equipment is improperly sized it will not run the way it was designed to do. When a furnace and/or AC is oversized they may short cycle. (basically they turn on and off too much) While this is bad for the equipment and will shorten the life of your equipment, it also impedes air quality. If you have a humidifier or air purifier that is connected to your furnace and is reliant on it running to work properly then a properly designed furnace that runs like it is supposed to will as a side benefit make your humidifier/air purifier much more effective. As side note a short cycling oversized furnace can cause your indoor air to stratify quicker. (The warm air will go to the ceiling/upstairs quicker because of improper mixing due to a furnace that is too powerful causing your comfort level to drop.) Am I suggesting you call us and replace perfectly good equipment (other than being oversized) just for humidity or the air purification? No but if you have a decision to repair or replace your existing equipment then it can be another reason for replacing rather than fixing..





For furnace repairs or problems call us at:
(720) 383-4468



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