With various pollutants posing a threat to your home, you must pay attention to your indoor air. Knowing how to measure air quality in your home is the first step toward combatting pollutants that could take their toll on your family’s health.
You must know your enemy when fighting indoor air pollution. With proper testing, you’ll know exactly what pollutants are present in your home and their levels. From there, you can take steps to restore your indoor air quality.
Testing indoor air quality is a crucial step to ensuring healthy and breathable air for your home. Take note that polluted indoor air doesn’t always feel stuffy or smell foul. Always remember that the likes of the deadly carbon monoxide don’t have an odor.
To prevent any of these harmful particulates, gasses, and pollutants from wreaking havoc in your home, you should start testing using the steps below.
How to measure air quality in your home
Measuring your home’s indoor air quality can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. To help you out, here are some of the steps you can take to know what your indoor air quality is like:
1. Check your family’s health
The first thing you need to do is monitor your family’s health. Do your kids have coughs and colds that don’t seem to go away? Are you feeling under the weather when staying indoors for hours?
If so, your indoor air quality might be highly polluted already. While this isn’t an absolute mode of measurement, it will give you a preview of the air you’re breathing.
Moreover, polluted indoor air can cause sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, headaches, and skin itchiness. All of these can worsen or trigger allergies in many people.
Take note that young people, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable to indoor pollution. If they tend to suffer from respiratory irritations, it’s best to proceed to the next step.
2. Use an air quality monitor
The best way to measure your indoor air quality is to use an air quality monitor or meter. This device is equipped with electrochemical sensors that detect particulates, gasses, and other airborne matter. The features depend on the specific model you’re going to purchase.
Most of the time, an air quality monitor can detect carbon monoxide, radon, and particulate matter. It also sends an alarm or notification in case the reading in your home is beyond the normal or tolerable level.
If you’re looking for an air quality monitor, you should consider the Airthings View Plus. This device can monitor seven pollutants: radon, volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon dioxide (CO2), pressure, temperature, humidity, and particulate matter (PM).
To access the readings, you need to connect the device to the Airthings app available on both Android and iOS platforms. Aside from that, you can also operate this monitor through IFTTT, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
The good thing with air quality monitors is that these devices are also programmed with the maximum safe levels. Once the readings are beyond these numbers, the detector will sound an alarm or send push notifications to your mobile device.
Aside from that, it has a wireless operation that will last for two years. Overall, it’s an excellent investment for your family’s health.
3. Install a carbon monoxide detector
Aside from an air quality monitor, you should also install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. These devices will sound off once it detects harmful levels of CO in your home.
If you’re looking for the best low-level carbon monoxide detectors, feel free to check our full review here.
Take note that carbon monoxide detectors are lifesavers. It’s because carbon monoxide doesn’t have an odor, which means you can be poisoned to death without you knowing it.
By the time you become aware of a potential CO poisoning, you’re already suffering symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, confusion, feeling sick, and stomach pain.
The good thing is that carbon monoxide detectors are often designed with a smoke detector in one device. So if you’re replacing your old smoke alarms, you might as well get one with a CO detector in it.
It’s also important to put one carbon monoxide detector in every sleep room of your home. This is because CO poisoning during sleep is very fatal.
4. Use a radon tester
Next, you should invest in a radon tester. This device detects harmful levels of radon, a radioactive type of gas that can cause lung cancer.
Like carbon monoxide, radon is a silent killer. It’s odorless and colorless, not to mention that it’s naturally occurring as a by-product of decaying uranium in the soil. Also, almost all soils have uranium in them waiting to decay and release radon.
When radon is released from the soil, it moves up from the ground and seeps through the cracks of your home. Over time, radon levels in your home will accumulate.
But unlike CO, it takes years of radon exposure to see serious symptoms. However, if you’re experiencing persistent coughs for no reason, you may want to check your home for this noxious gas.
For accurate readings, I recommend the Airthings Corentium Radon Detector. This device is one of the first battery-operated of its kind. With this, you can place it anywhere in your home and even use multiple units for close measurements of indoor air quality.
This radon detector has a screen that shows long-term and short-term average readings. From there, you can compare the readings to the safe radon levels, which are around 2.0 to 4.0 pCi/L. The lower the better, of course.
5. Hire professional help
If you want a more accurate and in-depth measurement of your indoor air quality, a professional is the best person to call.
Indoor air quality testing specialists will take various samplings and perform different tests in your home. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Dust particulate air sampling. A professional will use a calibrated meter that will push air into a filter paper within a specific airflow rate. The specialist will then compare the amount of dust to the acceptable levels recognized in the industry.
- General indoor air testing. General indoor air testing is often done in commercial spaces, but it’s also an option for residential properties. An air sampling equipment will be used to detect the presence of various pollutants like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and more.
- VOC testing. Owners of newly built or renovated homes should consider professional VOC and formaldehyde testing. A specialist will use a Photoionization Detector or PID to check the levels of off-gassing compounds in the air. It delivers instant measurements, together with the actual concentration levels.
- Mold testing. Every home can benefit from professional mold testing, especially if the owners are always dealing with recurrent infestations. This is done through mold testing and sampling, which can identify dozens of mold types. The sample will be studied in the lab and a report will be given to you.
Overall, professional air testing provides an accurate reading of how safe your indoor air is. The specialists can also guide you on how to fix the problem. They can even refer you to a professional service that can help restore healthy indoor air quality.
How to restore the air quality of your home
If tests show that your home has poor indoor air quality, the next step is to eliminate the pollutants. This way, you and your family won’t suffer from the potentially life-threatening effects of airborne matter.
At home, here are the steps you can take:
✔️Use a high-grade air purifier
First, you should use a high-grade air purifier to remove airborne particles in the air. You should invest in a unit that uses a HEPA filter and if possible one with an extra carbon filter. These two filtration layers will help clean the air and neutralize malodors.
✔️Run a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture
Excess moisture allows molds to thrive. If your home has abnormally high humidity levels, a dehumidifier can easily fix the situation. Just make sure that you use one with a built-in humidistat. This will allow the unit to shut down once the target humidity has been reached.
✔️Boost your home’s ventilation
It’s crucial to improve your home’s ventilation to help dangerous gasses dissipate. Opening your windows and using an exhaust fan are two of the most effective ways to do this. The goal is to have your indoor air changed regularly, so gasses won’t linger and accumulate.
✔️Have your air ducts cleaned
Dirty air ducts can cause your HVAC components to overheat and release carbon monoxide. Also, the dirt clinging to the duct walls will recirculate and trigger severe respiratory issues. Overall, your ducts should be professionally cleaned every 3 to 5 years.
✔️Avoid burning fuel indoors
It’s time to say goodbye to your indoor wood stove. Burning fuel like wood, kerosene, butane, and propane can release carbon monoxide into the air. So if you’re cooking, make sure that you use a vent. For wood stoves, you should use them outdoors.
✔️Clean up your basement and attic
Neglected attics and basements are often the harborage of molds, VOCs, and harmful gasses. It’s important to keep these two areas clean and well-ventilated all the time. Aside from cleaning, you should also inspect for sources of indoor pollution like old insulation, leaks,
✔️Stop smoking indoors
One thing that many homeowners are guilty of is smoking indoors. Take note that cigarettes release a ton of toxic fumes, which can stick to the surfaces of your home. This can increase carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter levels in your home drastically. So for your own sake, puff it outdoors or simply quit it altogether.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the symptoms of unhealthy indoor air?
A: Unhealthy indoor air can trigger symptoms like coughing, runny nose, respiratory irritations, and even chest tightness. For those with asthma, indoor air pollution can trigger frequent attacks. Overall, if members of your family are getting sick for no reason, you may want to get your indoor air quality checked.
Q: Is the air in my home making me sick?
A: If you always get colds, coughs, and skin irritations indoors, it’s possible that the air quality of your home is to blame. Elevated levels of pollution indoors can make you and your family sick. And unless the pollutants are addressed, you’ll continue to experience a sickness cycle in your own home.
Q: Can my phone measure indoor air quality?
A: Technically, there’s no mobile phone app yet that can measure the particulates in your home. If you want an accurate way to test your indoor air quality, you should purchase an air testing kit instead. These devices are programmed to detect various particulates and gasses in the air that mobile phones aren’t capable of doing.
Q: What factors increase my home’s poor indoor air quality?
A: Poor ventilation is one of the notorious culprits behind poor indoor air quality. Also, off-gassing from indoor items like carpets, insulation, mattresses, and new furniture contributes to your home’s air pollution. Aside from that, inadequate cleaning will also contribute to indoor pollution as the dirt lingers in your home more.
Q: Should I stay inside if the air quality is poor?
A: If your home’s indoor air quality is already concerning, you shouldn’t just stay inside without doing anything. It’s important to test your indoor air quality and perform steps that will eliminate the pollutants. This way, you won’t have to leave your home and stay somewhere else.
Knowing how to measure air quality in your home can save you from the life-threatening risks of pollution. But aside from knowing what’s in the air, you should also take steps in removing and avoiding the pollutants.
Overall, DIY methods work, but if possible, you should also consider hiring a professional. This will guarantee accurate readings and proper removal of the pollutants. In the long run, it will also benefit your family’s health.
Home Air Quality is founded by Bernard K to provide information on Indoor Air Quality in Homes and enlighten people about what they need to know about creating and maintaining a comfortable and healthy home environment.
We believe that “Quality air brings a healthy life.”