When it comes to many indoor air quality (IAQ) issues, we're the specialists of choice and our primary goal is to provide top quality services and products to our customers. One way to call attention to your IAQ services is to offer your customers a checklist of preventative measures that they can take to improve the air quality in their homes.

Many IAQ problems can be managed without the aid of professionals. The following is a checklist of practical actions that you and your customers can take to improve and maintain the environment in homes or other buildings.

You may chose to include these steps in a leave-behind marketing piece for service technicians to use, or you can include these ideas in a newsletter article. However you choose to use them, you’ll find them practical and valuable in the eyes of your customers.

  • Eliminate moisture sources. Most spores, molds, and bacteria require high levels of moisture to reproduce. Repair any minor plumbing leaks, calk around showers and baths. Seal all tile grout annually. Be certain the floor coverings near moisture sources are watertight. Check for roof, flashing, window, and siding leaks in the building. Grade the flowerbeds so that rain and irrigation water falls away from the building.
  • Good housekeeping. If you have some mold-like growths, clean them weekly with a solution of 10% bleach and 90% warm water. This treatment is inexpensive and effective. Check color fastness before using.
  • Ventilate frequently when moisture-laden air is present. Open windows when the outside conditions are comfortable. Fresh air dilutes the buildup of indoor pollutants. Clean the blower of small exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms. This can increase the capacity of these small fans by up to five times.
  • Investigate unpleasant smells. Remove the sources of the odors or clean up the conditions causing them. Simply follow your nose. Your nose will become accustomed to the smell after a few minutes of hunting. Stop for 20 minutes, and then resume the search.
  • Change air filters between regularly scheduled air conditioning and heating system services. Air filters capture airborne pollutants in your home. These are removed as you change your air filter. Contact NCI to be certain the filters you use are not too restrictive. Change filters only when the fan is off to avoid spreading the particles caught in the filter. Place the used filter in a garbage bag to contain the pollutants lodged in the filter.
  • Leave windows open and fans running when painting or installing new carpets or furniture, the first couple of days to dilute airborne Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are released from these sources. This will eliminate the burning eyes and runny nose symptoms.
  • Change vacuum bags outdoors and avoid breathing the dust in the bags as much as possible. Like air filters, dust bags are a collection point for pollutants.
  • Wash and dry wet towels and rags immediately after each use. Mold can grow in just 72 hours if humidity is over 90%. Below 70%, most mold takes more than 100 days to establish itself.
  • Keep your thermostat set at comfortable temperatures. Avoid raising or lowering the temperature excessively just to save on utility costs. It often can’t keep up when your home is allowed to achieve extreme temperatures.
  • Keep cleaning agents, paints, chemicals and solvents in tightly sealed containers when not immediately in use. Ventilate areas while using these products.

However you choose to use this checklist, your customers are bound to appreciate the advice and think of you and your company when it comes to their IAQ needs.

Rob "Doc" Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, a training company specializing in measuring, rating, improving, and verifying HVAC system performance. If you're an HVAC contractor or technician interested in a free IAQ Customer Survey, contact Doc at robf@nationalcomfortinstitute.com or call him at 800/633-7058. Go to NCI's website atwww.nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, technical articles and downloads.