Most people have to spend the majority of their time indoors and breathe air that could be filled with pollutants. Long-term exposure to poor air quality has been linked to the development of asthma, respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and lung cancer. The most severe immediate impacts are felt by people who already suffer from respiratory illnesses, bad allergies, or weak immune systems.
Getting a professional indoor air quality test is an important step towards cleansing the air and making your home a safer and more enjoyable environment for everyone. The process of testing air quality requires several steps to ensure that every problem area is detected and treated effectively.
Determining When to Call a Professional
All homes benefit from improving their air quality, but not every home needs to have a professional indoor air quality test performed. In order to determine if you should hire a professional to test the air quality in your home, one of the first things you need to consider is if the air indoors is already causing negative health effects. Does anyone in the home experience breathing difficulties, sore throat, itchy eyes, coughing, or otherwise feel ill when entering the home? Are there any rooms in which anyone feels more severe symptoms than the others? Are there certain times of day when the symptoms are worse?
If you believe the quality of the air in your home is affecting the health of you or your family at all, it’s best to call a professional to get a thorough indoor air quality test performed. The longer you wait, the more serious any harmful health conditions may become.
The answers to these questions also help pinpoint sources of poor air quality in your home. For example, if you feel more ill in one room specifically, it may be indicating that there is a lack of proper airflow, too much dust, mold, or other issues in that room that need special attention.
If you feel worse at night than during the day, it might indicate that the humidity level in the house is too low, your bedding is not being adequately cleaned, or you don’t have proper ventilation in certain rooms at night. Finally, anyone who has recently had renovations done or moved to a new residence would also greatly benefit from having a professional come out and evaluate the air quality within the home.
Starting the Process
Once a professional has been hired and arrives at your home for the test, they will ask you several questions regarding if there are any health issues you or your family are experiencing, any problems the home has recently had such as leaks or damage, any persistent odd odors, if you’ve had new carpeting installed and other similar subjects. The technician will then go around the house and close the windows and doors to ensure that the test isn’t being influenced by external pollution.
At this point, most technicians will do a quick visual inspection of the home to spot anything you may have overlooked such as:
- Water damage
- Standing water
- Indications of mold
- Dirty ducts
- Pollen buildup
- Lack of ventilation
- Insect activity
- Droppings from rodents
The order in which most air quality tests are done differs depending on your situation and the preferences of the technician, but a good place to start is a mold test. While many instances of mold can be detected visually, there are just as many mold infestations that are hidden or invisible and require other forms of testing to detect. Mold tests are performed in one of two ways. The first and most common method is called non-viable air sampling.
With non-viable air sampling, the technician takes a sample using tape and analyzes it at the site with a microscope for any indications of spores. This is the fastest way to detect hidden instances of mold in your home since you get results almost immediately.
The second and more accurate testing method is called viable air sampling. When using viable air sampling, the technician will collect a sample in a petri dish and send it to a laboratory for a more thorough examination. After a few days have passed and mold colonies have formed within the dish, it will be analyzed under a microscope to determine the exact genus and species of mold. This information is extremely helpful in determining how dangerous it is and how to properly eliminate the mold from your home, but it takes several days to a week to get results back.
The most frightening aspect of radon is that you can be affected by it without realizing it for numerous years. Radon naturally develops in the ground as a result of deteriorating uranium. The gas is radioactive and is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. It can seep into homes through cracks in the basement or foundation without any indication. Radon gas is invisible, odorless, and tasteless, making it impossible to detect without proper equipment.
Unlike home radon testing kits, professional indoor air tests for radon are much more thorough. They will not only test the air indoors, but they will also test the soil surrounding the home as well as the water. In order to get an accurate reading on any radon test, the minimum waiting time is usually 48 hours or more. Short-term tests last around a week while long-term tests can go on for as long as a year.
Electret tests are some of the most common radon tests used by professionals. These tests involve leaving an electrically charged plastic disk in your basement for several days. If radon hits the disk, the static starts to dissipate. The difference in electrical levels between when the disk was placed and when it is analyzed determines the radon levels in your home.
Volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, cause several harmful health effects, such as difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea, organ damage, and even cancer. VOCs come from sources like cleaners, gasoline, paint, and other strong chemical products.
Testing for high levels of VOCs requires a specially certified summa canister that is opened in the affected area for at least eight hours. The canister is then sealed and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Results of the test are typically sent back within a week.
If you want to improve the air quality within your home, you can trust our skilled technicians at Christian Brothers Air Conditioning Plumbing Electrical to provide you with professional service. We provide high-quality UV air sanitizer and air filtration system services, air conditioner filter replacement, and air duct cleaning. We also provide installation, repair, and maintenance services for furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, electrical and plumbing systems, and water heaters. You can turn to us for duct repair and insulation services as well. To learn more about improving the air quality in your home in or around the Glendale, Arizona area, contact us at Christian Brothers Air Conditioning Plumbing Electrical today.