83mmx technician doing lab tests

How Can I perform an Air Quality Test?

There are many things that may cause you to become concerned about your indoor air quality (IAQ). Most people take IAQ for granted most of the time, until something noticeable happens.

Common problems of poor IAQ can include:

  • Too much dust in the air
  • Too much moisture
  • Not enough fresh air
  • Mold
  • Bacteria
  • Radon
  • Sewer gases
  • CO, CO2
  • Chemical off gassing (VOC)

These problems may cause symptoms such as:

  • Repeated headaches
  • Breathing difficulties, asthma, or respiratory infections
  • Excessive coughing or the feeling of not getting enough air
  • Repeated congestion or sinus infections
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Strange odours
  • Skin irritations or rash
  • Eear and eye infections

If you notice a potential IAQ problem inside your home or workplace, it would be prudent to do a bit of investigating yourself before you consider doing any air quality testing.

Air Quality testing used to involve hiring a professional IAQ specialist or environmental company to come in and conduct several tests, and this would generally cost in the range of $2,500 to $3,000. They would take samples from key locations inside your home and then have these analyzed by a laboratory.

There are, however, several less costly do it yourself test kits that are now available and they have been shown to be 80-90% as accurate as having a professional doing the work for you.

The test kits range in price from $80 to $200 depending on what it is you want to specifically test for. There are different test kits available for each of the following items: formaldehyde, VOCs (gases), mold, allergens, etc. Figuring out which one(s) you really need may not be all that easy, and for the average homeowner this may be hit or miss.

So what you would do once you have your kit is follow the simple instructions, take some samples with the sticky tape provided, and then mail those all back to a laboratory. The cost of the lab testing is normally included in the price of the kit.

It is also important to keep in mind that not every air quality investigation will necessarily turn up anything wrong, even after expensive lab testing. The results will also not tell you where the cause of the problem is, or what to do about it.

This is why we would suggest doing that investigative work yourself before looking at the air sampling. Is the problem something new? Has it been going on for a long period of time? What has changed in your home or office lately that may be causing you to have symptoms?

This summer we had a customer who told us that whenever she walks through her front door she smells a musty odour. It was not something that she would smell always, but just when she came into the house.

That one didn’t take long… did you just start using your central air conditioner? Yes, she had. I told her we’d come over and wash her air conditioning coil for her. We did that and also cleaned her ducts. That problem was easily solved.

It won’t always be just so easy to figure out. It depends on what the problem is.

Consider these items as well…

1.  Do you or a family member have allergies, asthma, or any respiratory ailment?
2.  Is your home new, energy efficient, or recently weatherized (new windows, insulation, caulk)?
3.  Does anyone in the house have hobbies that involve chemicals, glues, paints or fragrances?
4.  Is there a smoker in the house or do you burn candles?
5.  Do you have concerns about airborne dust, pet dander, pollen, bacteria, viruses, etc.?
6.  Do respiratory illnesses cost you and your family time and money?
7.  Does your home ever smell stale or musty?
8.  Do you have pets in the home?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, talk to your City Duct Cleaning trusted advisor for a customized indoor air quality (IAQ) solution.

Note that we do not do indoor air quality testing ourselves. We generally refer this to an outside company as the need arises. We do, however, provide many of the solutions to the problems that are being caused and in many cases we can help you narrow down what is causing the problem in the first place and then figure out a plan to deal with it.

The video below explains that the EPA breaks down potential indoor air quality issues into 5 danger levels, and what those are. It can help you to learn more about what is in the air and what could possibly cause an indoor air quality problem in your home.

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