Why Is My Home Air Quality Bad? How Can I Improve It?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Home is where the heart is, but it can be detrimental to your health if you don’t pay attention to your surroundings. Indoor air quality affects everything from your mental health to your lungs, skin, and eyes. Many homeowners understand this but ask the question: Why is my home air quality bad?

The air quality in your home is likely bad if you have dirty air ducts or use cleaning products without airing the room out. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in paint fumes and air fresheners can also lead to bad air quality in your home. Use radon detectors and look out for mold if you have bad air quality, as mold and radon can lead to respiratory diseases.

Avoid smoking indoors if you are a smoker, as the smoke leaves behind a residue that contains tar. Follow along as we explore why the air quality in your home is bad and ways you can improve it.

9 Causes Of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Whether it be insecticides and air fresheners or smoke and mold, several factors can reduce the air quality in your home. Let’s look at the most common causes and fixes for poor home air quality.

1. Dirty Air Ducts

Not only do dirty air ducts increase your electric bill, but they also decrease the air quality in your home. When your ducts are dirty, your air conditioner will struggle to circulate air. You will also notice lots of dust throughout your home as the blowers will spread it through the air and onto the surfaces in your home.

This problem will only continue to get worse over time, so you must clean your air ducts. Never wait longer than 3-5 years to clean your air ducts. The problem can become dangerous if you wait any longer than that, and it won’t get any easier to fix.

It typically costs between $300 and $700 to clean air ducts, depending on how many ducts and vents you have. However, it’s worth the cost to hire an HVAC professional as it requires special equipment and can be quite difficult to do properly.

2. Excessive Cleaning Products

Cleaning products are often necessary, but they can also negatively impact the air quality in your home. They typically feature strong chemicals that hang in the air for long after you use them. Ideally, you should air out a room for 10-20 minutes or longer after you use cleaning products.

This is especially necessary if you use aerosol sprays that spread throughout your home. Some cleaning products and sprays can even work their way into your HVAC system. The harsh chemicals may spread throughout the system and lead to poor air quality and respiratory problems.

Run a fan or two and leave the door open if possible after you use cleaning products in a room. That way, the chemicals won’t be so concentrated, and they will dissipate much quicker. It also helps to open a window for up to 20 minutes or longer if needed.

3. Smoke

If you or someone in your home smokes cigarettes, it will quickly lead to poor indoor air quality. Even the smoke from cooking and accidentally burning food can lead to poor air quality. Be careful when cooking and quickly run a fan and open a window if you burn something.

If you’re a smoker, consider going outside each time that you want to light up. Not only does cigarette smoke affect air quality, but the residue the smoke leaves behind can also damage your wallpaper and furniture. In some cases, you may experience poor air quality for a while when you move into a home where the previous resident was a smoker. You must air the home out frequently until you get a better air quality reading in that case.

4. Mold

Mold is dangerous and expensive to remove, but it’s necessary to get rid of it if you have bad air quality in your home. The spores that mold produces travel through the air, and they even spread when the air conditioner is turned on. This can cause respiratory problems, and that is dangerous, whether you have asthma or not.

However, it’s critical to call a mold remediation professional if you find the mold and you have asthma or COPD. The situation will only get worse over time if you don’t treat it, and in some cases, it can be deadly.

5. Asbestos

Most modern homes don’t have asbestos anymore, but some older homes still do. Asbestos is quite dangerous and even deadly, even though it was used as a common building material for decades. Inhaling asbestos can cause serious lung damage.

It is also likely to make its way into your water, where you will unknowingly ingest it. Asbestos is linked to several types of cancer as well as long-term respiratory illnesses. Never attempt to remove asbestos without professional help, as it requires special safety equipment.

It costs an average of $30 per cubic yard to remove asbestos when you hire a professional. They wear respirators, cover their skin, and know how to remove it without releasing too much into the air.

6. Radon

Radon is another old material that was quite common in American homes. The biggest danger of radon is that you can’t see or smell it in the air. That’s why it’s important to put at least two radon detectors in your home so you know if you’re in danger.

Visit the National Radon Program Services website if you detect radon. They can help you find resources to remove the radon in your home and improve indoor air quality. Unfortunately, it costs an average of $1,500 to remove radon, but it’s worthwhile, as your health is the most important thing.

7. Pesticides and Insecticides

Pesticides and insecticides are quite helpful, but they can be dangerous to use indoors. The chemicals within them are meant to kill pests and bugs, but they are also dangerous to humans. Pesticides can stay in the air for anywhere from 16 to 90 days whether you smell them or not.

They may dry within 2-4 hours, but movement, moisture, and temperature changes can cause the chemicals to stir back into the air. Use natural remedies like lavender, clove, and eucalyptus instead of chemicals because they won’t negatively impact your home’s air quality.

8. Fresh Paint

Fresh coats of paint release volatile organic compounds that are harmful to inhale. The organic compounds will remain in the air for at least 48-72 hours, depending on how much paint was used. If possible, leave the windows open for several hours or even days after painting.

Only apply as many coats of paint as necessary. Otherwise, applying excessive coats of paint will lead to more volatile organic compounds that take longer to dissipate.

9. Air Fresheners

Air fresheners may smell great, but the chemicals within them are often detrimental to your home’s indoor air quality. Like fresh paint, air fresheners often feature volatile organic compounds that are harmful to inhale. They also contain harmful chemicals like benzene, toluene, and even formaldehyde in extreme cases.

Your best bet is to stick to candles that feature organic materials. It also helps to use essential oils with ingredients like tea tree oil and mint, which don’t release harmful chemicals.

Is The Air Quality In My House Making Me Sick?

Poor air quality in your home can make you sick. Upper and lower respiratory problems are common when there is too much dust on the surfaces and air ducts within your home. Serious air quality problems due to mold can also cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and eye and lung irritation.

Harmful materials like asbestos can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer. Visit a doctor if you detect a bad air quality reading and experience dizziness, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, and chest pain.

Summing It Up

Clean your air ducts if they are overdue and you detect a low air quality reading. Avoid using excessive cleaning products and coats of paint and open a window for a few hours to avoid poor air quality. Harmful materials like radon and asbestos can explain poor indoor air quality, and remediation is necessary, as they can lead to diseases like lung cancer.

Air fresheners, pesticides, and insecticides can also lead to serious respiratory problems. Monitor your home for signs of mold, as the spores spread quickly and can cause major health problems.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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