How To Check the Air Quality in Your Home

clean indoor air with common home pollutants concept

You'd be surprised to learn that the concentration of some pollutants indoors is two to five times greater than the concentration outdoors.

Since most of us spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors, indoor air quality is something we can't overlook. Fortunately, no matter how polluted your indoor air quality, there's always a way to improve it.

However, before you can start improving your home's air quality, you first have to know the current quality. If you use your nose or gut to gauge your home's air quality, you might not get the most scientific results. So how to check the air quality in your home should be your first concern.

There are quite a few test kits that you could purchase online to test the air quality at home. However, not all of them give accurate results. So how do you tell your home's air quality?

Keep reading as we highlight foolproof ways to test your home's air quality and also debunk some common air quality-testing myths. 

1. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a leading house pollutant that comes from many of the appliances you use in your home every day. Stove and fireplaces are the most usual culprits. But even grills and water heaters produce a considerable amount of carbon monoxide.

The thing without carbon monoxide is that it's odorless and colorless. So the only way you can tell if you have carbon monoxide in your home is if you have a few carbon monoxide detectors. The trick is to place them in rooms all around the house for ultimate protection from CO.

Also, note that at high levels, carbon monoxide is a metabolic poison. That's why it's so important to have a few detectors around the house. Place a loud detector near your bedroom to indicate carbon monoxide presence when you're asleep.

At least 430 people die every year in the U.S. from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you don't want to be a statistic, then ensure your home has a few working carbon monoxide detectors. Also, make sure you replace their battery as needed.

2. Mold Tests

Carbon monoxide aside, mold also compromises your air quality. In three to four days, mold can produce millions of spores, which lead to a host of respiratory complications. You can't see mold spores, so you'll have to use a mold test to know if your house has spores.

A simple way to test for mold is by using a petri dish and potato dextrose. Potato dextrose is the substance that permits mold growth. You have to cap the petri dish and leave it for some time uninterrupted.

If mold grows on the potato dextrose, then you have mold inside your home, if it doesn't, then you're on the safe side.  

However, note that just about any air you test will have at least some mold spores. You only have a problem when there are high levels of mold spores in your air. 

Here are a couple of situations that definitely call for a mold test.

  • There's a musty odor that pervades the entire house
  • You have issues with your plumbing systems, like leaks
  • You see something that looks like mold in the house
  • You're having allergic reactions with no signs of any allergens
  • You want to buy or sell a house
  • To provide your landlord or tenant evidence that there's no mold in your home

Once you discover the presence of mold in your home, the next thing you should do is identify the source of the mold. Mold thrives in warm, damp environments. That's why if you have a water leak, you most likely have mold. 

If you have a professional over for the mold test, they should also be able to identify the source of the mold. The professional should also tell you what type of mold you have in your home.

The most common type of mold is black mold, which is also toxic. Make arrangements to get rid of the mold to improve your indoor air quality.

3. Do a Radon Test

Radon is a gas like carbon monoxide. It's also colorless and odorless like carbon monoxide. However, radon isn't toxic like carbon monoxide, but it is after long term exposure. In fact, long term exposure to radon exposure can cause cancer.

Radon isn't a by-product of using your home appliances. Instead, it occurs when uranium deposits deep in the soil start to break down. The gas permeates into your home through gaps and cracks in your foundation, floor, or walls.

Radon usually reaches your home at its lowest concentration, because it transverses from deep in the soil upwards. Short-term exposure to radon isn't dangerous, but long-term exposure is. The only way you can test for radon is by using a radon-specific test kit.

Electronic radon tests are the easiest ways to test for radon in your home. All you have to do is to place the test kit on the area you think likely has radon for some time. Later, you'll check the test-kit and know whether you have radon in your home.

4. Indoor Air Quality Monitor

An indoor air quality monitor does exactly what the name says it does. This is a device that measures the air quality of your home. The device tests for humidity, chemical pollutants, particulate matter, and the likes. Anyone can use these indoor air quality monitors effortlessly.

Some air quality monitors can also check for temperature, carbon monoxide, and even formaldehyde for labs. Expect to spend about $200 for a decent indoor air quality monitor. You can find cheaper variants for about $50, but they may not do as good of a job.

Most air quality monitors have small displays that indicate to you the levels of each pollutant in the house. Note that particulate matter includes dust, pollen, and the like.

The displays will show you the real-time values of the specific pollutants. Others instead have LED display lights that show the level of air pollution in your home or average IAQ. The latest air quality monitors send readings straight to your smartphone.

The best way to know your general air quality is by purchasing one of these devices. Most hardware stores will have an air quality monitor, or you can buy one from Amazon. However, don't purchase any of those knockoff brands that are rife in the market today.

However, if dry air is what is compromising your air quality, then get an ultrasonic humidifier. That way, you can keep your air humid enough to be comfortable but not so humid that it encourages mold growth.

Why Is Air Quality So Important?

What's all the fuss with air quality, and why should you be concerned about it? Aside from comfort, there are tons of other reasons why home air quality is so important. Here are a couple of reasons why you shouldn't overlook air quality.

You're Mostly Indoors

As mentioned earlier, the average American spends about 90% of their life indoors. Plus, with indoor air quality being significantly poor than outside, you'll be doing much damage to your health. 

Health Reasons

Poor air quality has adverse effects on your health, especially with long-term exposure. Unfortunately, people most susceptible to these health complications spend the most time indoors. For instance, elderly and sickly people are often the ones who spend the least amount of time outside.

Increase in Indoor Air Pollutants

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of indoor air pollution. This has been brought about by the increased use of synthetic building materials. Stuff like pesticides and insecticides have also contributed to the increase in indoor air quality pollution.

Home's Comfort

Poor indoor air quality can make your home feel stuffy and uncomfortable. In severe cases, you may start feeling light-headed or very tired. To make your home comfortable and habitable, you must make sure your home's air quality is excellent.

How to Check the Air Quality in Your Home

Hopefully, you now understand how to check the air quality in your home.

Remember, proper air quality is more than just the physical comfort in your house. It's also vital for your health. With these few methods, you should be able to know the quality of air in your home.

Knowing the air quality of your home is one important thing to learn, but there are many others too. For more "how-to" articles, be sure to check out the other pieces on the site. 


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