How to Identify Poor Indoor Air Quality

If you own a commercial building, you’ve probably got a lot of things on your plate at any given time. There’s a lot of stuff to take care of and manage, so it wouldn’t be surprising if indoor air quality wasn’t always at the top of your list. However, it’s important not to neglect what’s happening in your HVAC system, because if left unchecked, the indoor air quality of a commercial building can seriously deteriorate. At first, it may just cause minor annoyances, but as the problem gets worse, it can become the cause of dangerous health hazards.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to recognize that you have poor air quality. It’s often something you have to go out of your way to check, because unless it’s extremely bad, it’s probably something you’ve been experiencing on a day-to-day basis for weeks or even months. Changes in air quality can be so subtle that you don’t notice them as they come.

Want to figure out how good or bad your indoor air quality might be? Here are some questions to ask yourself.

How Humid Is It?

One of the easiest ways to get a lead on bad air quality is to check the humidity. Humidity levels aren’t a result of bad air quality, but they can be the source of it. Ideally, you’ll want your commercial building’s humidity to be around 35-50%. When your humidity is too low, you’ll end up with excessively dry air. This can cause the typical irritations you’ll find from dryness, such as itchy skin. But dry air can also make it easier to get an upper respiratory infection, which is something that’s just better off avoided.

Meanwhile, if your building’s air is too humid, it’s going to be ripe for all kinds of nasty and unpleasant growth. Moisture-heavy air is where mold and mildew thrive, and you can bet you’ll be getting some if you don’t keep an eye on your humidity levels. Humid air also attracts bugs and pests more than dry air does. But make no mistake — mold is the biggest enemy to air quality. Mold is insidiously hard to get rid of, and its spores will make their way into people’s lungs like it’s nothing.

If your air is too dry or too humid, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your air quality is bad. But it can be a good starting point to start looking for other problems. If, for example, it’s sitting at high humidity, it would be prudent for you to do an exhaustive mold checkup.

Are Sicknesses or Allergies Flaring Up?

Another good starting point for diagnosing air quality is to consider how the people inside your building are doing. Do allergies seem to be exceedingly common? Are people coughing a lot? Does it seem like a new cold or flu passes through the building every two weeks?

It’s really easy to look at this kind of behavior and just assume that there’s a bug going around. And indeed, that may be true — the common cold tends to flare up during certain seasons, but it’s very possible that if you have bad air quality, you’re making it far easier for pathogens to get around.

If your air is really bad, it could be a phenomenon exclusive to your current building. So it’s also useful to note the behavior of people in your other circles. Is there a cold that’s “going around” at everyone’s work? Or does everyone seem to be fine and dandy except for the poor suckers in your building? If it’s the former, it’s time to investigate your indoor air quality.

Is the Air Being Distributed Equally?

This is one that we know all about at Comfort First Products. Basically, you’ll want to investigate the air flow in your building. While small apartments and homes typically don’t have major problems in air distribution, it’s much different in commercial buildings and offices, which have massive HVAC systems that often cover several floors and thousands of square feet. Unless the building’s vents have impeccable design, it’s more than likely that air distribution is uneven in certain spots.

Why is this important? First off, it could be indicative of HVAC problems — if air isn’t reaching certain areas, there could be blockage in your system or it could be working at weakened power. Obstructions in your vents can decrease air quality, while a weakened system may not be doing a very good job at filtering out gunk from outside.

But even if your HVAC is in perfect condition, uneven airflow is still possible due to vent design, and that’s why, at Comfort First, we offer a variety of air diffuser and vent deflector products. When you install one of our air diffusers or vent deflectors where the air usually comes out, you can redirect the air to distribute more freely. You can either have it flow into four different directions, or redirect it to take a trajectory of your choosing.

Uneven airflow isn’t ideal because it can make certain regions of your office more susceptible to bad air. An area with excessive airflow may become disproportionately humid, causing mold, and the opposite can be true too, with certain parts of the office being too dry. It can also cause temperature fluctuations, which is a cause of discomfort.

Is There Dust Building Up?

If you have a regular cleaning crew, it’s possible that dust isn’t an issue in your building, but if you don’t, it’s something you need to be proactive about. Most people are good at preventing dust buildup on their desks and common areas, but pay attention to the windows, blinds, and unused areas of your building. If there’s a lot of dust forming, it doesn’t bode well for the air quality in your building.

Dust is one of the biggest culprits of poor indoor air quality. It dissipates into the air until it’s visible and before you know it, everyone is unknowingly breathing it in, potentially with a good dose of coughing and wheezing. If you start to see a lot of dust, get to work fixing it ASAP.

Does It Smell?

One of the biggest giveaways of poor air quality is a bad scent, but this, surprisingly, can be pretty hard to identify. Smells can be subtle, and when we spend enough time in their presence, it’s easy to become desensitized. Even some of the nastiest smells can feel “invisible” after a while, so it wouldn’t be surprising if you have a funky smell and don’t even realize it.

One of the best ways to get a good reading on the smell of your commercial building is to step outside and then back inside multiple times. Pay careful attention to what you’re smelling — does the building smell like a “normal” indoor space, or is there definitely something funky in the air? If you can safely say that it’s the latter, it’s time to look for indoor air quality solutions!

Improve Your Air Quality With Indoor Vent Deflectors and Air Diffusers

At Comfort First Products, we offer a variety of indoor air quality solutions. Our vent deflectors and air diffusers go a long way towards creating more equal air flow in your building, and they’re equipped with high-quality filters which will help to trap harmful particulates. Want to make sure no one in your building is breathing in nasty air? Browse our selection of products today!