5 Tips on How to Improve IAQ with Pets: How Pets Affect Air Quality
December 30, 2022
Published by:Andrew Ardianto
How do pets contribute to indoor air pollution? For all the fun and love your furry family members might bring to your life, they unfortunately also contribute to the pollution inside your building. On the other hand, there are things you can do to improve indoor air quality, which helps everyone, four-legged or human, breathe easier. You can do some of these on your own, or you can utilize our HVAC engineering services.
How Pets Affect Indoor Air Quality
How do pets contribute to indoor air pollution? As it turns out, there are quite a few ways. The three primary considerations are odors, particulates, and allergens.
Certain pets are going to produce allergens. You might never know which ones will do it, much less which people will be affected. In rare instances, pets can actually trigger allergies in other pets.
In the case of dander, things can take time. Cat dander, in particular, happens to be so fine that it might float around in the air for several days before getting inhaled deeply in someone's respiratory system. "Sticky" dander particles that settle on surfaces prove very stubborn to clean, so they're active allergens for quite some time.
Dust load isn't helpful either, and it can happen from litter, food bits, dirt, dandruff, and feathers. All these are great sources of food for dust mites or various other critters that wind up producing even smaller particulates. Many are allergens, and all negatively impact air quality.
Odors are another problem. They can be a part of the overall chemical load in your building's air. These odors can come from bedding, droppings, respiration, and bodily odors.
Human noses get used to smells quickly. It happens so fast, sometimes, that you might not be aware of the odors if they happened gradually. Guests and visitors might notice but not want to bring it up in conversation.
If you want to improve indoor air quality, then you should know what an HVAC system is and does for the building that it's installed in.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Facilities with Pets?
Unhealthy air quality and pets are never a good mix. Fortunately, indoor animals don't have to suffer when you know how to improve indoor air quality in facilities with pets.
#1. Conduct More Thorough Cleanings
If you notice symptoms of bad air quality pets might cause, suffer from, or both, then you might panic and think you need to run out and buy a pet air conditioner or something. In truth, the process of responding to this can be much simpler. If you have an HVAC system and use it, then just be sure that the air ducts are cleaned on a regular basis. Replace the air filters routinely to make sure that you have great air quality for dogs and cats alike. Just doing household chores will keep everything clean and sanitary. Emphasize vacuuming and dusting regularly to remove debris or allergens that might irritate furry members of the family.
#2. Improve the HVAC Sealing
Does an air purifier help with cat hair? It probably can, but you might also want to implement sealing strategies. A large part of that involves making sure that your HVAC system is properly sealed. Cracks and leaks can be entry points for allergens and irritants, but they can also mean they might not get cleaned out of the system properly. For that matter, system efficiency can go down. Also, keep litter boxes and various other pet-related accessories away from HVAC mechanical rooms. Walls and penetrations should be sealed between the majority of a building’s interior and where pets sleep. You might even want to do the same for the offices of allergy sufferers.
#3. Increase the CFM
Increasing the whole-house rates of ventilation makes sense when pets are involved. Pets mean more occupants, so more ventilation is necessary. The design ventilation rate for each cat is anywhere from 30 up to 40 CFM, whereas dogs range from 15 up to 25 per pup. In order to control dust loads and odors for every occupant, a building should have an ERV or HRV with a capacity equalling the number of people living there plus 15 CFM times the number of dogs and 30 CFM times the number of cats.
#4. Modernize Your HVAC System
Modernizing the HVAC system of your facility goes a long way toward healthy air when pets are around. An indoor air quality monitor can help you keep track of levels of air pollutants and allergens inside. You can't always easily tell if indoor air quality is good or not, but technology can. Dander is something microscopic, so you need help finding out how much there is. A whole-building active air purifier is another good move that removes many air pollutants and allergens. The right model can free the air of a considerable amount of crud you'd rather not have anyone breathing on a regular basis.
#5. Get a Better Filter
Filters are an easy move, and they can do a lot of the work in getting rid of pollutants from your pets. However, it's easy to overestimate how much they will help. Quality filters will deal with many particle sizes under 2.5 microns, but they might not prevent cat allergies. A lot of dust in facilities doesn't actually move through the HVAC system so much as it lies on the floor or sticks to furniture and walls. Changing filters more frequently can work just as well as upgrading the filters.
How to Improve Your HVAC System for Pets?
You probably see the presence of your pets as a great factor in your environment. At the same time, you might see the dust and dander they create as a downside of living with them. Fortunately, there are things you can do to tip the balance towards better indoor air quality, and these will help people, pets, and even your HVAC system in some cases:
- Avoid VOC products: look over your cleaners to see if any of them have VOCs. When possible, choose natural alternatives or something that is at least a bit safer.
- Clean filters and ducts: make sure your air ducts get cleaned regularly and change the filters at regular intervals to keep your system in great working order.
- Clean Often: dust, dander, and debris can pile up fast. They can also get embedded in everything from clothing to carpets. The more often you clean, the less you'll have to deal with all of this.
- Get pet-safe plants: plants usually help with air purification since their respiration is different from animals. Just make sure the plants aren't toxic to animals that might get curious about them. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a toxic plants list that's a good place to start.
- Manage the humidity: strike the right balance. Too dry is uncomfortable but too moist is a breeding ground for pests and bacteria.
- Open the Windows: open the windows and doors every once in a while to get fresh air in. You might even want to set up fans near open windows to blow the pollutants out of the place. Opening windows in two different rooms can also give you a nice draft to get air flowing in and out.
- Run your HVAC: HVAC does more than regulate the temperature in your building. This technology also ventilates your premises and helps filter pollutants out.
- Skip artificial air fresheners: free your place of these, and just deal with underlying odors or scents instead. Find naturally scented products that won't prove toxic to pets.
- Smoke outdoors: smoking indoors will get into the air and everything else. Don't smoke around your pets, ever, even when you're outside. Not smoking at all is best.
- Test the air: you can do this with a permanent monitor or by having a technician do a test. Knowing what's wrong with your air and how bad it is can prove crucial to finding solutions.
- Utilize air purification: air purifiers are unlikely to free your air of all pollutants, but they can get quite a bit in conjunction with your HVAC system and other techniques. Portable purifiers might help in pet-specific rooms.
- Wash your pet: bathe pets when you can do so safely to free them of particulate matter they might pick up. This will minimize both inhalation and skin irritation.
These changes are rather small in terms of each individual step. However, they can collectively make a tremendous difference in the indoor air quality of your building. That will help the health of pets and humans.
Pets and indoor air quality can go both ways. Your pets can contribute to your facility or home's indoor air pollution, but they can also be motivated to address the issue. Now you know several steps you can take to improve respiratory matters for both people and pets.
If you're in our service area, then our Calgary HVAC engineering company can help you. Contact us right away to get started with the process of improving air quality in your building so everyone can breathe easier and enjoy life more.
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