It’s important for IAQ experts and technicians to run an IAQ assessment on every job. If a home doesn’t already have IAQ upgrades installed, it’s likely you will find some issues with the indoor air quality. This isn’t just an opportunity to upsell, it’s an opportunity to improve the air they breathe. The reality is almost 2 million people per year die as a result of indoor air pollution. Your IAQ expert assessment could be the difference between a good or poor quality of life. Learn what indoor air quality assessments are, how to evaluate air quality, and why you should have an IAQ inspection checklist to refer to when you’re out in the field.
What are Indoor Air Quality Assessments?
An indoor air quality assessment helps you identify any potential problems and also assess the resiliency and mitigation options of any home. Homeowners can run their own IAQ tests, but they will never be as thorough as the one you can perform for them. These are comprehensive tests that assess the quality of the indoor air through surveying an entire dwelling for these sources:
- indoor particulate matter
After the assessment, you’ll be able to walk your client through your IAQ testing results and recommendations to improve their air quality.
How Do You Evaluate Indoor Air Quality?
To properly evaluate indoor air quality, you must run a series of tests and check areas of the home that are often overlooked. Homeowners are relying on your evaluation to determine if they have any IAQ problem areas, if these problems are acute or chronic, and your recommendations to improve them. Every home is different, but the approach to conducting an evaluation should be the same.
1. Indoor Relative Humidity Levels
Indoor spaces should have an indoor relative humidity (RH) between 40 – 60%. Using a hygrometer, you can check the temperature and humidity levels in each room. If you notice the humidity levels are particularly high, inspect the area for mold. Germs thrive in indoor spaces when the RH is below 40%. Depending on the overall RH of the dwelling, you can either recommend a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier solution.
2. Test for Radon
Testing for Radon is not just a good idea, it’s the law. In fact, all 50 states require that any building with four or more units test for Radon and disclose that information. There are no safe levels of radon exposure – even low levels can pose health risks to occupants who spend hours each day in the same space as high concentrations of radon gas without realizing its presence (and danger).
The best radon testing available exclusively to you are the passive electret test and active tests. The Teflon disc in a passive electret test allows ions from atoms to reduce the electrical charge, which occurs during decay. Active tests use a device with continuous monitoring that records your levels throughout the period of the test.
Should the test results show radon levels exceed 4.0 pCi/L, recommend the installation of a radon mitigation system.
3. Inspect the Entire HVAC System
The source of bad IAQ can be the HVAC system. Especially if the system was poorly designed or it hasn’t been maintained in a long while. The coils, ducts, filters, registers, grilles, and everything in-between must be inspected for signs of harmful indoor air pollutants. Allergens, bacteria, germs, and mold thrive in areas that are dark and wet and the HVAC system could be spreading these pollutants around the home whenever it’s being used.
4. Ventilation and Filtration Matters
Every room in a home will produce varying levels of pollution. A bedroom will emit different pollutants than a kitchen or bathroom. An empty living room versus a fully occupied living room will produce more pollutants. Pets and children add even more pollutants to an indoor space. Measuring and factoring in these pollutant levels will tell you what the air exchange rates and filtration needs to be. If you find pollutants are too high, a home’s filtration or ventilation might need to be upgraded. Whole-home mechanical ventilation and the highest possible MERV-rated filters should be your recommendations.
Indoor Air Quality Inspection Checklist
Technicians and IAQ experts should always refer back to an IAQ inspection checklist whenever doing an assessment. Many PDF checklists can be found online, but technicians should also consider creating one that works for their company. These will help them go through all of the things they need to keep an eye out for during each job. By following these strategies, technicians can complete an IAQ assessment and help the occupants avoid any issues related to indoor air quality.
We created this downloadable PDF IAQ inspection sheet here for you to use. This IAQ Home Inspection checklist covers everything, including:
- Household information
- Air monitor report
- Main living space
- Basement and crawlspace
- Mechanical system
- Air filtration
- Humidity control
- Air control
Using this IAQ inspection sheet will guide your technicians or IAQ expert through each home. They will know exactly what they need to watch out for in order to produce a successful assessment and make air quality recommendations.