Tips to Improve Your Montgomery County Home’s Indoor Air Quality

In June of 2023, the air quality of Montgomery County and the surrounding areas was severely impacted by Canadian wildfires, particularly from Alberta and British Columbia in Western Canada. The state of Pennsylvania was compelled to declare a Code Red Air Quality Action Day across the entire state once the smoke infiltrated the area. Shortly after, Philadelphia issued a code orange, indicating that air pollution concentrations were potentially harmful to vulnerable groups. The air quality was so poor that people were strongly advised against outdoor activities and even spending time outdoors.

Occurring in the hot summer, with our HVAC units running endlessly to combat the heat, the polluted outdoor air worked its way into our homes, putting us at risk of mild to long-lasting health conditions. Poor air quality doesn’t just come from wildfires, however, and there’s a chance you’ve been living with pollutants this whole time. Luckily, there are ways you can improve your home’s indoor air quality.

Montgomery County’s Air Quality and How it Affects Your Home

Montgomery County’s air quality has returned to good about a year after being under siege from harmful polluntants. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it and your home are healthy.

Montgomery County is geographically located near industrial activities and dense urban centers, making it susceptible to various air pollutants, including ozone and particulate matter. The County’s varied climate can exacerbate air quality issues throughout different seasons.

Your HVAC is Important, But It Brings in Polluted Air

The air quality outside doesn’t stay outside. External pollutants from vehicle emissions, industrial byproducts, and even agricultural activities can find their way into your home.

During the summer, for instance, high ozone levels, driven by heat and sunlight, work their way into your home through your cooling system. Due to the hot summers Montgomery County faces, HVAC systems are constantly running to provide cold air into your home. To do that, it removes heat from a space and circulates cool air throughout it by using refrigerant to change the liquid refrigerant from liquid to gas.

So, as your home is being filled with refreshing cold air, it’s also being filled with potential pollutants.

Related Article: Understand Your HVAC Unit More with HVAC Terminology

Health Affects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Living with indoor air quality problems has potential health repercussions.

Short-term effects: Immediate responses to poor air quality can manifest as various irritations and respiratory symptoms. A potential health risk is allergies, including eye, nose, and throat irritation, which is often your body’s first reaction to pollutants like smoke, dust, or chemical vapors.

Additionally, you may experience allergic reactions characterized by sneezing, coughing, and nasal congestion, especially during high pollen seasons in Montgomery County. Respiratory issues such as asthma exacerbation or difficulty breathing are also prevalent when indoor air is contaminated with particulates and other irritants.

Long-term effects: Chronic exposure to poor air quality can have more severe health consequences. Prolonged inhalation of polluted air can contribute to the development of chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic bronchitis, and even emphysema.

Beyond the lungs, air quality can also impact cardiovascular health. Studies have linked long-term exposure to particulate matter and other air pollutants to an increased risk of heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes.


Tips to Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

For starters, if you’re unsure about the quality of your home’s air quality, test it with a free indoor air quality assessment.

If you’ve come to the conclusion it could be improved, here are some practical tips.

1. Give Your HVAC System Regular Maintenance

Make sure your local HVAC contractor in Montgomery County checks your system at least twice a year. This helps identify potential issues affecting its efficiency and air-cleaning capabilities.

In those check-ups, be sure to regularly change your system’s filter, which can quickly compile pollutants and affect your system’s ability to provide clean air. High-efficiency particulate air filters are especially good at trapping fine particles and allergens, thereby reducing pollutants circulating in your home.

2. Use Natural Air Solutions

Opening windows and doors to let in the fresh air can do wonders, but only do so when the county’s air quality is healthy. This allows fresh air to circulate throughout your home and dilute indoor pollutants that accumulate over time.

Another way is hiding in plain sight — turn on your bathroom and kitchen exhaust vents. These areas are hotspots for humidity, cooking fumes, and other pollutants. By turning on your exhaust fans while cooking or after a shower, you actively remove these contaminants right at their source, helping to keep the air in your home clean and fresh.

3. Plants?

Yes, plants! They’re more than just greenery inside your home; they act as another natural air purifier.

Best Plants for Air Purification

Not just every plant will do the trick; some are better than others. The spider plant, for instance, is a champion at absorbing carbon monoxide and xylene. Another great option is the snake plant, which is particularly adept at night-time oxygen production, making it ideal for bedrooms. The peace lily, while beautiful to look at, is also a powerhouse that can tackle ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

For maximum benefit, place these plants in areas where you spend a lot of time such as living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms. The peace lily thrives in high-humidity areas and can be a perfect addition to your bathroom, where it can also help in controlling mold levels.

Care Tips for Indoor Plants

Maintaining indoor plants for air purification isn’t just about watering them; it requires specific care so they can continue to improve your home’s air quality. Overwatering is a common mistake many new plant owners make, which can lead to root rot and decreased plant health. Clarify and understand the watering needs of each type of plant, as some may require more frequent watering than others, while others thrive on minimal water.

Another tip is to regularly clean the leaves of your indoor plants. Dust can accumulate on the surface, which not only detracts from their beauty but also impairs their ability to absorb gases effectively. Gently wiping the leaves with a damp cloth every few weeks can help maintain their health and purification capabilities.

Avoid placing your plants in areas with extreme temperature changes, such as those that are too close to air conditioning units, heaters, or drafty windows. Such conditions can stress the plants and reduce their ability to purify the air effectively.

Breathe Cleaner in Montgomery County

Indoor air quality in the home is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. By making sure your home’s air quality is clean, you can prevent potential harmful polluntants living alongside you.

Follow these tips for healthy living.