An HVAC contractor discusses an air treatment system with two homeowners in their kitchen.
Trade Talk

IAQ: How to answer your customers’ air quality questions

For homeowners and businesses alike, concerns about indoor air quality, or IAQ, have stayed significantly elevated as a result of the pandemic. Heating and cooling contractors are uniquely positioned to serve as IAQ solution providers for their customers, which can also be beneficial for HVAC businesses. Help your customers understand how and why improving indoor IAQ is important.

How can you improve indoor air quality?

Understanding why improving indoor air quality is important will empower you to talk to your customers about IAQ solutions. From conducting a home air check to using an HVAC HEPA filter and maintaining IAQ equipment, explore top air quality questions and answers below so you can meet your customers’ demands for cleaner indoor air.

Why should I care about how to reduce indoor air pollution?

Indoor air is up to five times dirtier than outdoor air, and people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. Breathing unclean air can lead to long-term negative health effects and respiratory issues but improving indoor air quality isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

Do you know how to check air quality indoors?

Conducting a home air check can happen around the clock with an IAQ monitor. These sensors detect particulate levels, pollen, dust and formaldehyde, among many other indoor pollutants. For customers wanting to know how to measure air quality at home or in their business, you can present a range of options at different price points.

What indoor pollutants are in my home?

The most common indoor pollutants include asbestos, mold, bacteria, viruses, dust mites, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide (CO2), formaldehyde, lead, nitrogen dioxide, pesticides, radon, indoor particulate matter, secondhand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke, volatile organic compounds and wood smoke.

What causes high CO2 levels in a house?

Day to day, using a fireplace, burning plastic, smoking and/or a lack of ventilation can cause high CO2 levels in a house. In addition, a malfunctioning heating or cooling unit can lead to CO2 releasing into the home. While a lot of homeowners understand the importance of carbon monoxide alarms in the home, carbon dioxide detectors are also critical to IAQ monitoring.

What are volatile organic compounds, or VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are chemicals typically created by humans and usually involved in paint, refrigerant and pharmaceutical manufacturing. They can have a negative impact on health, and customers will find these in the ingredients of many household products they use every day. These are often the reason the air inside homes can be more polluted than outdoors.

What is a HEPA filter or MERV filter ratings?

HEPA means high-efficiency particulate absorbing. The Centers for Disease Control defines a HEPA filter as an air filter that removes more than 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns or larger at a specified flow rate of air.

MERV filter ratings refer to minimum efficiency reporting values, a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. A higher number means the filter is better at trapping specific types of particles, with 16 as the highest MERV filter rating.

Because an HVAC HEPA filter can be so dense, using it in a residential home may reduce air flow. Let your customer know which filter would work best to meet their needs without straining their specific heating and cooling system.

Is there a product that can purify both air and surfaces safely?

Active ultraviolet (UV) products from certain manufacturers filter and then create supercharged molecules that break down contaminants both in the air and on surfaces. You could support your customers by calculating the size of their homes and helping them choose the UV product that fits their needs.

For all IAQ products, check the manufacturer’s guidelines and the capacity of the mechanical equipment to help determine the size of the device needed for your customer’s home or business.

What is photocatalytic oxidization, and how does it work to purify the air?

Photocatalytic oxidization, or PCO, purifies air by using energy from a high-intensity UV bulb that then reacts with a metal catalyst or absorption bar to neutralize odors and VOCs.

What type of IAQ equipment maintenance is required?

Some equipment is self-cleaning, but typically, bulbs, filters, pads and cells need replacing every six to 18 months, depending on the manufacturer. This is a good time to discuss service contracts for you to inspect and maintain equipment as needed.

Where is professionally installed IAQ equipment placed within an HVAC system?

Most products are installed in the blower fan cabinet on the mechanical equipment or in the ductwork of the system, so your customer can enjoy the benefits of cleaner air without a lot of products cluttering their space.

Which portable IAQ devices are the best?

Devices that are classified as FDA Class II have been tested and can provide valid scientific evidence collected from human clinical trials showing they are safe and effective for their intended use.

What’s the best location for portable IAQ equipment?

Portable devices can be wall-mounted or placed on a table or shelf. They’re sized based on the square footage they can treat, and multiple units can be spread out in high-traffic areas or located on opposite sides of a room.

Ferguson can help with your IAQ questions

Do you need more answers before discussing IAQ with your customers? As one of the nation’s leading HVAC/R suppliers, we back our expansive inventory with expert product knowledge and support.

To learn more about improving indoor air quality for your customers at home or at work, explore our IAQ solutions and contact Ferguson to discuss customized support.