How Is An Air Quality Test Performed?

Air quality tests are one of the most important parts of maintaining an HVAC system. If the air quality dips below healthy standards, it’ll worsen asthma, increase cancer risks, and cause numerous respiratory problems. Fortunately, you can hire a professional or perform your own air quality test at home.

An air quality test is performed by checking the radon and carbon monoxide levels in the air. Air quality monitors check for hazardous particulates in the air, including mold and various contaminants. It’s also important to look for visual signs, including mold, dust, and buildup in the air filter.

Throughout this post, you’ll find out how air quality tests are performed and what you can do with the results. Enjoy!

Carbon Monoxide Inspections

Carbon monoxide poison is one of the most well-known problems related to poor indoor air quality. It’s often caused by gas leaks. Most building codes require carbon monoxide detectors, especially around kitchens, water heaters, and all other appliances that deal with gas.

SciJinks shows you should always check your carbon monoxide detector to ensure the air quality is in good condition. If there’s too much carbon monoxide in the air, you need to hire a professional to check for gas leaks. You should also open the windows and doors to let as much carbon monoxide escape as possible.

Here are a few symptoms of excess carbon monoxide in the air:

  • Excessive fatigue or tiredness
  • Gas-related odors (carbon monoxide is odorless, but it has a unique scent added to it to let people know if there’s a gas leak)
  • Frequent headaches or eye pain
  • Chest pain

Many air quality monitors check the carbon monoxide levels, but they typically don’t check the box of having a CO detector in a living space. Ensure you have the necessary detectors, especially if you intend to have a professional air quality technician inspect your house. That will likely be the first thing an HVAC tech tells you about.

Read: Can Black Mold Grow In Window Air Conditioners?  

Using an Indoor Air Quality Monitor

Indoor air quality monitors are all-around universal test kits that check your home’s air quality. They’re used by professionals and at-home DIYers alike. Safewise recommends that everyone uses an indoor air quality monitor frequently. They’ll let you know what’s too high, what needs to be replaced, and how you can maintain your home’s air quality.

For the most advanced system, try the Smart Air Quality Monitor by Amazon. It’s compatible with Alexa and tests the air quality in multiple rooms. You can connect it to the provided app on your smartphone to analyze VOCs, humidity, ambient temperature, and carbon monoxide levels. This device also lets you check the air’s particle density.

VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are added by various scented products and almost anything that uses harsh chemicals. They’re known to cause cancer and many other respiratory issues. You can get rid of the VOCs in your home by getting rid of these products and ventilating your home with a high-quality HVAC system for optimal filtration.

That being said, there are a few other things you should consider aside from VOCs and carbon monoxide. Read on to learn about a naturally-occurring element that can cause disastrous health conditions if it’s left unchecked.

Read: Should You Give Your Air Conditioner A Break?

Radon Tests Throughout the Building

Radon is naturally found in the soil around your home. It evaporates into the atmosphere, which means it can’t cause any health issues. However, Second Nature claims your home can trap radon gas, which is known to cause lung cancer. For this reason, radon testing is an irreplaceable element of air quality tests.

Try the First Alert Radon Test Kit. Place it near the lowest point in your home, such as the garage or basement. These kits check how much radon is in the air, letting you know if you need better HVAC systems or improved ventilation. You can open the windows in your home to release radon buildup.

You can also seal any loose caulking and cracks throughout the home, especially those around your plumbing and anywhere that touches the soil. Cracks and broken seals are only two of the visual signs you’ll notice when the air quality is poor in or around your home. Below, I’ll discuss a few more things you can keep an eye out for while performing an air quality test.

Read: Is It Cheaper To Run A Portable Air Conditioner Or Central Air?

Visual Inspections

Titan Enviro explains visual inspections are some of the easiest and most essential parts of air quality testing. When the air quality is bad enough, mold, mildew, and bacteria can develop. Not only are they gross and dirty to look at, but they’ll also cause health problems.

Here’s what you should look for when performing an air quality test:

  1. Check windowsills and air vents. Mold and bacteria can grow around these areas because they’re the most common places for moisture and particles to build up. You can remove them with a mixture of vinegar and warm water. However, it’s important to use air quality monitors to prevent them from coming back.
  2. Fogginess in the air is a huge issue. When the air looks cloudy or hazy, it could mean there are lots of dangerous particles floating around (especially when you’re testing indoor air). Your ventilation system should remove the contaminants, but it’s best to look for the source of the air density.
  3. Constant dust buildup typically shows your HVAC system isn’t working properly. It should remove dust and debris from the air. While a little bit of dust is expected, you shouldn’t have to remove dust every few days from the same spaces.

If you find a lot of mold or mildew around your house, business, or property, it’s worth checking the humidity. In the following section, I’ll show you the two things you need to know about inspecting and managing the moisture content in the air around your home.

Read: Should An HVAC Zone Damper Bleed Air?

Hygrometers and Air Filtration Systems

According to HVAC Boss, testing your HVAC system’s humidity is an integral part of the maintenance process. Not only does it tell you if you need to use a humidifier or a dehumidifier, but it also lets you know if there’s going to be mold in the air. On that note, you should also check and clean or replace the air filter in your HVAC system as recommended by the manufacturer.

The ThermoPro TP50 Hygrometer checks the ambient humidity if your home’s thermostat doesn’t have one. It also shows the temperature and how far your home’s temperature and moisture are from feeling comfortable. Each kit comes with two of them, so you can safely place them on opposite sides of the house.

Quick Note: Make sure your air filter is facing the correct direction. Many of them have arrows to let you know which direction they should go. Pointing it the wrong way will keep dust and debris in the air, reducing the air quality.

Final Thoughts

Air quality tests ensure you’re always breathing healthy air that’s free of dangerous particles. If you don’t monitor the air quality regularly, you could end up with discomfort in your eyes, lungs, throat, and skin. It can also worsen pre-existing medical conditions.

Carbon monoxide, humidity, VOCs, and radon are the primary components to look for during an air quality test and inspection.