4 Common Air Polutants Gathering in Your Home (And What to Do About Them)

Clean, high-quality indoor air is vital to our health. So, it may surprise you to know that the air in your home may contain pollutants at higher levels than outdoors. How does this happen? Well, there are many ways that contaminants and toxins can be brought indoors or produced inside and held in the air that you breathe. Here are four common air pollutants that may be gathering in your home and what to do about them.

1. From the Outdoors In — Radon

Uranium is present in many soils, and as it breaks down, it forms radon gas, releasing it into the atmosphere. Radon’s radioactive properties make it a contaminant to be excluded from the home as much as possible. The gas is implicated in thousands of lung cancer cases in smokers and non-smokers every year.

Radon typically enters homes through cracks and holes in the foundation and gaps in walls. Poor ventilation can then allow the gas to build up to dangerous levels. Radon exposure occurs in every US state.  

How to Remedy

While you cannot eliminate radon from your home, you can reduce it to safe levels. Inexpensive home testing kits are an easy, quick option to show the amount of radon in your home. An unsafe gas level is four picocuries per liter of air (4 pCi/L) and above. Professional technicians can seal problem areas in the house and install venting systems to bring radon to a safe level.

2. The Dangers of Particulate Matter

Eliminating and reducing common air pollutants in your home is a constant chore. This is especially so if you have an open fireplace or use unflued gas or kerosene heaters. As fuel burns, it releases what’s called particulate matter — a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles floating in the air. Smoke, soot, and ash, for example, are frequently found in particulate matter.

When these noxious chemicals are inhaled, they are detrimental to health, especially those who suffer from respiratory illnesses, such as asthmatics.

How to Remedy

You can minimize particulate matter caused by burning fuel by making sure fireplaces, chimneys, and flues are regularly inspected and cleaned. Air duct cleaning is also important in maintaining good air quality in your home.  

3. Molds are Common Air Pollutants

Molds travel through indoor and outdoor air constantly, and in low concentrations, don’t usually cause health problems to people. However, if they find a damp, dark area in your home, attach themselves, and start growing, then that’s a different matter. Mold can spread rapidly, covering large surface areas and damaging the underlying material they are growing on.

From a health perspective, molds can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.

How to Remedy

Mold can be removed with water and detergent and wiped or scrubbed off the surface. Vinegar can also be used by spraying the affected area, leaving for an hour, and then scrubbing off. However, to permanently stop mold, you must find the source of the dampness and fix the cause. For example, if a leak causes the moisture, get that repaired. If the air in your house is too damp, then improve the ventilation and consider investing in a dehumidifier.

4. Inhaling Dust Mites Cause Allergic Reactions

A common cause of allergies in many people result from exposure to dust mites. These microscopic spidery bugs feed off the skin shed by people and burrow into household dust, bedding, carpets, and other fabrics. They are present in most homes, breeding quickly in warm, humid environments.

While live mites themselves aren’t usually in the air we breathe, their waste and dead body parts are. It’s these particles that are inhaled and trigger allergies and asthma.

How to Remedy

The prevalence of dust mites makes them almost impossible to eliminate. However, their numbers are reduced by keeping humidity in the home low. Cleaning sheets weekly, airing blankets and bedcovers, and reducing dust levels in the house will help significantly. Certified asthma and allergy vacuum cleaners can trap more airborne particles stopping dust mite waste from getting into the air.

Local Air Duct Cleaning in North Virginia

The duct and filter components of HVAC systems operate to trap airborne particles, remove stale air and exhaust air and moisture into the outdoors. Therefore, one of the most important ways to eliminate or reduce common air pollutants is by regular air duct cleaning.

You will receive expert peace of mind service by engaging Six Penny Chimney in North Virginia to inspect and clean your chimneys, fireplaces, and HVAC air ducts. Get in touch for a free quote and speedy service to meet all your expectations.

How to Prevent Dryer Vent Clogging and Potential Fire Hazards

Sometimes, it’s the most innocuous things that can spell disaster for households. One of these is the humble air dryer, a commonplace piece of laundry equipment in millions of homes. Across the U.S., more than 15,000 fires a year have been said to be caused by laundry dryers. Most of these fires are attributed to poor dryer vent cleaning. See how to prevent dryer vent clogging (and potential fire hazards) and keep your home safe.

Why Do Laundry Clothes Dryers Catch Fire?

Laundry dryers move and roll wet clothes around inside a dryer drum like the action of a washing machine. However, instead of water, air is drawn into the equipment through vents located on the outside of the machine. Heated and blown through the dryer by fan action, hot air soon dries out the clothing items. During the drying cycle, air continuously flows into the machine, is blown through a lint screen, and vented outside through a rear duct.

Lint, dirt, and fibers are forced from the clothes during the drying process due to the tumbling action and the blowing hot air. As a result, grime and material specks build up within the lint trap and the rear vent duct and, when dry, are highly flammable. As debris builds up, it clogs up the vents, reducing airflow. At best, this buildup slows the time to dry clothes properly. At worst, overheating of the dryer can occur with the lint sparking a fire.

While there are variations, for example, there are ventless dryers, overall, this is the process resulting in a very high percentage of home fires.

How Often Should You Clean the Clothes Dryer?

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) provides some startling statistics, showing that up to 92% of home fires have been associated with clothes dryers. Furthermore, the leading cause of these fires has been identified as inadequate dryer vent cleaning.

So how often should the dryer be cleaned? According to Consumer Reports, a non-profit organization that provides independent product reviews, there are two cleaning tasks with dryers:

  1. Clean the lint filter after every clothes load is finished, and
  2. Clean the vents and the rear exhaust duct at least once a year.

Aside from preventing fires, regular maintenance cleaning will minimize clothes drying time and subsequently keep your energy costs lower. 

How to Properly Carry Out Dryer Vent Cleaning

Cleaning the rear exhaust duct thoroughly every year can be a little tricky due to the location. First, after disconnecting the power, the dryer usually must be moved away from the wall. Next, you must manually disconnect the duct from the back of the machine and then use a vacuum to remove as much lint and debris as possible. Finally, you must reconnect the duct, tighten the clamps or other fasteners, and move the dryer back against the wall.

Contact your local service provider if it looks like you’ll need help with dryer vent cleaning.

Some Tips for Preventing Dryer Fires

Aside from regular cleaning, here are a few extra tips to help reduce the odds of a dryer fire in your laundry.

  1.     If you have to go out, don’t leave the dryer on at home while you’re gone. Many dryer fires have happened when the owner has stepped out, causing significant damage before being noticed.
  2.     Never place clothing items that contain plastic or rubber pieces in the dryer. These substances can melt in the heat of the machine and combust.
  3.     Keep drying loads within recommended limits. Overloading dryers puts strain on the motor and may cause overheating.
  4.     Ensure the dryer vents are kept clear of items that may restrict airflow. Again, this may cause overheating and a potential fire to start.
  5.     Pay attention to any burnt smells coming from the dryer when it’s operating. The motor may have overheated, or lint be in a state ready to combust.
  6.     Be extra careful with any clothing soiled with flammable elements, such as gasoline, grease, or oil. It’s best to wash these a couple of times if necessary and hang them on a line to dry. These are substances you don’t want to get into the dryer.

Expert Dryer Vent Cleaning in North Virginia

At Six Penny Chimney, we provide the highest quality cleaning services for chimneys, fireplaces, and clothes dryers. So, if you haven’t checked the dryer lint trap or exhaust duct for some time, it’s probably time to call us in. If you reside in North Virginia, let us give you a free no-obligation quote on our cleaning services.