Deciphering HVAC Terms: VOCs and IAQThe HVAC industry uses plenty of abbreviations as shortcuts, and when you run across IAQ and VOCs, they’re definitely discussing indoor air quality and volatile organic compounds. The two are closely related. The quality of the air indoors depends on the concentration of volatile organic compounds in the air. Although there are other factors, like the amount of dust, pollen and dander indoors, it’s the VOC load that impacts IAQ the most.

What Volatile Organic Compounds Are

A VOC is a gas that comes from products made from petroleum. Unless you make an effort to avoid them, your home may have plenty of these gases inside. They come from common cleaning products, anything perfumed, tobacco smoke, construction and remodeling materials, vehicles and yard equipment, dry cleaning, makeup, soaps, and plastics.

VOCs’ Impact on IAQ

As products that contain volatile organic compounds age, they release these gases that are known to cause minor to serious health problems, like cancer, organ failure and nervous system damage. They have a serious impact on IAQ. Some people are more sensitive to VOC exposure than others. Headaches and sore throats are the least serious, but prolonged exposure may lead to crippling illnesses.

Managing IAQ

The best way to manage the VOC load indoors is to avoid VOCs altogether. Plenty of options are now available for low-VOC products for home remodeling or construction. PEVA shower curtains are a good replacement, and natural cleaning products like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are safe for IAQ.

You can also install UV (ultraviolet) lights inside your HVAC system to lower the VOC load, or use heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) to lower the VOC concentration. HRVs are balanced ventilation systems that use heat exchanger technology that minimizes the cost of conditioning incoming fresh air. As the stale indoor air exits, the heat exchanger traps the energy in the air and conditions the fresh incoming air.

If you’re concerned about VOCs in your home’s air, contact the pros at Detmer and Sons. We proudly provide HVAC and IAQ services for Dayton-area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Dayton, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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