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IAQ an Important Service for the HVAC Contractor to Add

IAQ an Important Service for the HVAC Contractor to Add
Cecille Adams / iStockPhotos.com

Today more than ever homeowners are concerned with energy savings and efficiency, being green, and keeping indoor air free of contaminants to protect the household residents.

“Poor IAQ is ranked as the #4 biggest environmental threat in the U.S. and having a healthy home is the #1 concern for U.S. homeowners,” said Jeff Klonowski, national IAQ sales, manager, Panasonic Eco Solutions North America.

IAQ generally falls into three categories of contaminates:

  • Odors and chemical vapors from cleaning supplies, paints and solvents, and organic compounds from offices machines such as copiers, printers, and computers. Other sources can include insulation, paneling, carpeting and furniture, which may emit formaldehyde unless properly aired out.
  • Particles such as pollen, dust mites, dirt and pet dander.
  • Bioaerosols such as bacterial viruses, mold spores and fungi.

If air is not ventilated properly, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems, such as headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, cough, sneezing, eye, nose and throat irritation, skin irritation, dizziness and nausea and aggravate allergies and asthma.

Contractors need to be educated about the importance of IAQ, Klonowski said, citing the following statistics:

  • Pediatric asthma rates have jumped 72 percent and is the leading serious chronic illness of children. Numerous indoor air pollutants have been directly tied to causing or increasing the risk of asthma developing in children.
  • Women who work in the home have a 54 percent higher death rate from cancer than women who work outside the home.
  • The EPA has stated that air quality indoors has been found to be up 70 percent more polluted than air outdoors.
  • 40 lbs — the average amount of dust in a six-room house collects in a single year and the dust can be laced with up to 45 different chemicals.
  • 87 percent of homeowners in the U.S. do not know how polluted the air in their home is, and have never had it checked.
  • 90 percent is the average amount of time in a single day that the average America spends indoors, and breathing possibly contaminated air.

More than ever before, powerful ventilation is required to meet code, minimize the risks of callbacks, warranty issues and liability,” Klonowski said. “Installation of ventilation equipment, including a bathroom fan is incredibly important to the performance. Done poorly, with long duct length and multiple elbows and the system fails. This is why it is important to test the performance of every system after installation is complete.”

Tighter Houses Mean Less Natural Air Exchange

Since the 1980s, homes are built tighter, better insulated, and have much less uncontrolled leakage of air through floors, walls, and ceilings. But tighter houses mean less natural air exchange, so unless homes are well ventilated, pollutants and moisture are trapped once they enter.

“As homes continue to get tighter and tighter, more and more emphasis is being put on ventilation,” said Luke Nelson, corporate HVAC product manager for First Supply. “Many states now have building codes that reflect the importance of homes with the proper number of air exchanges.”

The 2015 Minnesota Residential Energy Code requires a total ventilation rate based on the total square footage and the number of bedrooms there are in a home. A minimum of 50 percent of the total ventilation rate must be met by a continuous and balanced whole-house mechanical ventilation system.

“Even without code, smart contractors are pushing whole home ventilation solutions to their homeowner customers,” Nelson said. “We are also seeing a major shift in the desire for homeowners to be able to control not just their temperature remotely via smartphones, but also their homes overall indoor air quality (specifically humidity levels).”

Air that is too dry causes problems such as skin irritation and respiratory problems. If it’s too humid, the homeowner may notice window condensation, odor, discoloration of painted surfaces or a general feeling of dampness.

Opportunities to Expand Your Business

“Homeowners WANT to improve their indoor air quality; however, they don’t know to specifically ask for a whole home humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilation system or even an upgraded filter,” Nelson said. “It’s our job in the professional channel to make sure our homeowner customers are aware of the solutions we offer and how they can improve their quality of life. Offering IAQ solutions is also a great way for a contractor to differentiate themselves from their competition.”

Nelson suggests contractors promote their expertise on IAQ. “Brand yourself (and make sure you back it up) as an indoor air quality expert — you aren’t just offering heating and cooling; you are offering a healthier home for your customers.”


  • Become educated about the importance of indoor air quality.
  • Open a dialogue with your customers so you can share your knowledge with the homeowner. The homeowner is reliant on the contractor to be the expert, to know what is available in the market, and how available products can positively impact their family’s health and comfort.
  • Be observant and listen to the homeowner. For example: if the homeowner has a single-room air cleaner or humidifier, offer whole house options. If the homeowner asks about duct cleaning options or better filters, respond by offering the best IAQ technology available in the market.

The market is there. It’s the contractor’s job to offer the best possible choices to the homeowner.