Help me breathe easier!
January 15, 2011 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Can you advise on how best to test/improve the air quality of my home?

I live in Minnesota, so opening windows isn't an option in the winter.

Have you used a great service/kit/product that tests air indoor air quality?

Have you bought a device that filters/purifies/cleans indoor space with wonderful results?

Do tell!
posted by LittlePumpkin to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If your home is reasonably well sealed, a heat recovery ventilator might be a good option. It doesn't clean your indoor air, but it does replace your indoor air with outdoor air, transferring heat from one to the other in the process. Basically, it is the energy-efficient equivalent of opening a window.
posted by ssg at 10:38 PM on January 15, 2011

I have a Whirlpool Whispure 510 that I use for seasonal allergies, and it makes a huge difference. It also runs quietly enough not to keep me awake. YMMV if you're trying to filter something other than pollen.
posted by neal at 12:51 AM on January 16, 2011

You could get one of the air purifying plants identified by NASA in its research on air quality for space stations.
posted by daisyace at 5:01 AM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

A home energy audit (link is to a fluffy NYTimes article about the process) should include a blower door test, which will tell you how often the air in your house is being exchanged already. In other words, your air may not be as stale as you think it is. The smart solution in cold places is usually to tighten up the house (by caulking, insulating, etc) and then add efficient ventilation (perhaps a heat recovery system) to compensate. In the midwest, you might want to get a radon test, as well.
posted by Forktine at 5:27 AM on January 16, 2011

There are some good purifiers mentioned above, but depending on what you're worried about, it also helps if you simply don't use a lot of oven cleaners and their ilk and keep your household hazardous chemicals somewhere that you don't spend a lot of time breathing (keep the pesticides in the garage or basement). This pamphlet looks like a nice introduction to the important issues regarding indoor air quality.

If you know of a source of contamination, Summa Canisters are often used to test indoor air quality. But as the pamphlet above notes, they're expensive and unnecessarily if you're just looking to overall improve normal indoor air.

Do test for radon and get a CO detector!
posted by ldthomps at 6:30 AM on January 16, 2011

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