8 Simple Home Improvement Projects that will Improve Indoor Air Quality

home improvement projects to improve indoor air quality

Our homes are often the place we spend the  most time. Studies have shown that the average person spends about 80% of their day indoors, at home.  While often times we hear how horrible this can be for the health of our bodies, I want to encourage you to change your own thinking about this fact.  How great is it that we can actually improve and change the air within our homes to be healthier. With spending 80% of our day in a healthy and low toxin environment, we can actually drastically improve not only the environmental health of our home, but our bodies as well.  

Often times we think of DIY projects at home to be creating a feature wall or using spray paint to freshen the look of a piece of furniture.  Today, I’m sharing with you some home project ideas that can actually improve the feel and environment within your home. Some of these will add some aesthetic appeal to your home as well, but mostly these are incredibly practical improvements to your home that will improve your indoor air quality (IAQ).

These DIY home projects are simple and easy to take care of in one weekend with the proper planning.  The goal for each of these projects is to restore health to your home and reduce indoor air pollutants as much as possible.

Upgrade Bathroom Vent Fans

This is a great way to improve the indoor air quality in your home for a few different reasons.  Having a properly functioning bathroom fan is a great way to pull excess moisture out of the air.  We know that a home environment with high amounts of moisture can be environments where mold and mildew thrive and where dust mites run rampant.

 

By improving the amount of moisture and air that’s pulled out of your bathroom, you can improve the quality of air as well. You’ll want to make sure that your vented fan does in fact vent to the exterior of your home and not an indoor space when you complete your installation.  And then best practice is to use your vented fan (using it with opened windows is a bonus). Keep as much moisture pushed out of your home as possible.

HEALTHY HOME IDEA:

Vented fans hidden in recessed lighting for a sleeker look and improved indoor air quality.

Great for bathrooms, laundry rooms and other high-humidity areas.

Clean Your HVAC System & Filter

While this isn’t a glamorous home improvement project by any means, it can really help improve the indoor air quality at home.  First you’ll want to make sure that you remove as much dust and debris from the inside of your HVAC unit as possible. You’ll also want to make sure that the flame inside your furnace is burning blue (as opposed to orange or yellow).  A blue flame indicates your system is burning clean and reduces the potential of high carbon monoxide levels.

Once your looking in your HVAC unit, ensure there is no moisture or water present.  If there is it’s time to call in the professionals to assess proper repairs.

If you have a filter that you can clean, this is a great time to do that.  Otherwise you can replace it with a healthier option, which I’ll talk about a bit later in this post).

Add Waterproof Coating to Foundation Walls

If you have exposed foundation walls in your basement that are not covered by building materials such as drywall or insulation, it’s a great idea to add a waterproof coating to prevent condensation and moisture from migrating through the concrete into your living spaces.  

As we know, excess moisture anywhere in the house is a recipe for disaster.  Excess moisture due to any sort of moisture intrusion (leaks, condensation, etc.) not only creates an environment for mold to grow, but it also increases the indoor humidity levels. When indoor humidity levels are higher than 45% or so, we see VOCs and chemicals off gassing at a much higher rate.  

Safecoat is my pick for a non-toxic brand you can trust to add a waterproof coating to the foundation walls: 

Install a Smart Thermostat to Improve Air Flow and Track Humidity

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, the humidity levels in your house are extremely important to the health of your indoor environment.  Keeping your home’s relative humidity somewhere between 35% and 40% is the ideal level. This not only is a comfortable level to the human body systems, but it also creates an ideal environment to reduce mold and mildew growth as well as preventing the production of dust mites.  You can read all about how to keep the perfect humidity levels in your home here.

Obviously there are many different thermostats you can choose from when it comes tracking humidity.  If you’re not wanting to get a smart thermostat, you can also use an Awair Indoor Air Quality Monitor to track the humidity inside as well as other indoor air contaminants.

Add an Indoor Garden Box to Purify Air

We’ve been told that air fresheners are the way to clean our indoor air from the living room to our musty basement.  But air fresheners do absolutely nothing to purify our air, in fact they actually contribute to the indoor pollution problems our homes face.

While there are many ways to naturally purify your air at home, the most natural and most beautiful in my opinion is by adding some purifying houseplants.  

Meghan at The Organic Goat Lady has a pretty extensive list of 25 plants you can have at home to help purify the air.

indoor garden box to improve indoor air quality

Install Activated Charcoal Filters

Have you seen activated charcoal showing up everywhere?  There’s a reason this natural product is making its way back into our homes.  If you’re needing to replace your furnace filters, then I highly recommend you consider changing over to activated charcoal filters as opposed to the standard pleated filters.  Activated carbon can actually remove allergens and impurities such as dust, mold, smoke, household chemicals and benzene and VOCs. It traps them within the filter and then you remove them when you replace your filter.  Normal filters allow gasses and small particles to pass through the HEPA filter, but charcoal attracts these contaminants and traps them.

While this isn’t necessarily a home improvement project, it will certainly improve the indoor air quality within your home. Below is my top brand picks for Activated Charcoal Filters:

Create a Mud Room Space

Many newer homes have spaces designated for dropping all the stuff we carry around with us all day.  And there’s definitely a reason for this and a practicality about creating a mudroom. Mud rooms are a great place to leave shoes without tracking them throughout the entire home.  Shoes that we wear all day go in and out of public bathrooms, schools, stores, grass treated with pesticides, etc. We then bring these shoes into our house and allow the germs, bacteria, chemicals and toxins to get trapped within our carpet and rugs.  Once it’s in our house, it can be very difficult to eradicate completely. The toxins travel through our air and ducts and get pushed from room to room.

Creating a mud space or building shoe shelves or installing hooks for coats and purses can be a great way to keep these things at bay and out of the main living spaces of your home.   It’s a great way to stop unwanted contaminants from entering your home. Here are some of my top picks for shoe storage and trays:

shoe tray

IMPLEMENT A "NO SHOE" POLICY TO KEEP UNWANTED TOXINS OUT OF YOUR HOME ALL TOGETHER.

Reseal Caulking and Grout

Again this is a far from glamorous home improvement, but it’s inexpensive and very effective in terms of preventing unwanted indoor air quality issues.  Caulking and grout around sinks, tubs, showers and toilets is there to protect porous surfaces from water intrusion. Once the grout or caulking becomes loose or begins to deteriorate, those porous surfaces begin to come in contact with water.  

Water that sits around for long periods of time and gets trapped behind caulking or inside small areas quickly becomes a breeding ground for mold.  By removing and replacing grout every few years, you can prevent mold from overtaking those areas. Mold spores that enter the air can be almost impossible to get out of your home completely.  Even bringing in fresh air won’t completely remove these spores from the inside of your home. It should also be noted that the health effects of these spores can be life altering when proper precautions are not taken.

Luckily sealing and replacing caulk and grout are relatively easy and inexpensive.

A brief recap of how you can improve your indoor air quality:

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality with Simple Home Projects

  1. Upgrade Bathroom Vent Fans

    By improving the amount of moisture and air that’s pulled out of your bathroom, you can improve the quality of air as well. You’ll want to make sure that your vented fan does in fact vent to the exterior of your home and not an indoor space when you complete your installation. And then best practice is to use your vented fan (using it with opened windows is a bonus). Keep as much moisture pushed out of your home as possible.

  2. Clean Your HVAC System & Filter

    First you’ll want to make sure that you remove as much dust and debris from the inside of your HVAC unit as possible. You’ll also want to make sure that the flame inside your furnace is burning blue (as opposed to orange or yellow). A blue flame indicates your system is burning clean and reduces the potential of high carbon monoxide levels.

  3. Install a Smart Thermostat to Improve Air Flow and Track Humidity

    Keeping your home’s relative humidity somewhere between 35% and 40% is the ideal level. This not only is a comfortable level to the human body systems, but it also creates an ideal environment to reduce mold and mildew growth as well as preventing the production of dust mites. You can read all about how to keep the perfect humidity levels in your home here.

  4. Add Waterproof Coating to Foundation Walls


    Keeping your home’s relative humidity somewhere between 35% and 40% is the ideal level.  This not only is a comfortable level to the human body systems, but it also creates an ideal environment to reduce mold and mildew growth as well as preventing the production of dust mites.  You can read all about how to keep the perfect humidity levels in your home here.

  5. Add an Indoor Garden Box to Purify Air

    While there are many ways to naturally purify your air at home, the most natural and most beautiful in my opinion is by adding some purifying houseplants.

  6. Install Activated Charcoal Filters

    Activated carbon can actually remove allergens and impurities such as dust, mold, smoke, household chemicals and benzene and VOCs. It traps them within the filter and then you remove them when you replace your filter. Normal filters allow gasses and small particles to pass through the HEPA filter, but charcoal attracts these contaminants and traps them.

  7. Create a Mud Room Space

    Shoes that we wear all day go in and out of public bathrooms, schools, stores, grass treated with pesticides, etc. We then bring these shoes into our house and allow the germs, bacteria, chemicals and toxins to get trapped within our carpet and rugs. Once it’s in our house, it can be very difficult to eradicate completely. The toxins travel through our air and ducts and get pushed from room to room.

  8. Reseal Caulking and Grout

    Water that sits around for long periods of time and gets trapped behind caulking or inside small areas quickly becomes a breeding ground for mold. By removing and replacing grout every few years, you can prevent mold from overtaking those areas. Mold spores that enter the air can be almost impossible to get out of your home completely. Even bringing in fresh air won’t completely remove these spores from the inside of your home. It should also be noted that the health effects of these spores can be life altering when proper precautions are not taken.

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