You and your family are liking spending more time inside than ever before, and you’re relying on your house to keep you safe. But is your home actually healthy?
Many people are surprised by statistics about indoor air quality, like the fact that indoor air can have two to five times the concentration levels of certain air pollutants as outdoor air. Our homes are very confined spaces compared to the great outdoors which can lead to a buildup of harmful chemicals, particulates, and more—is it possible that you’re suffering from poor IAQ and don’t even know it?
What Are the Health Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality?
If you’re experiencing headaches, nausea, fatigue (ever wonder, “Why am I always so tired?”), coughing or sneezing, increased allergies or asthma, itchy skin, or other health issues, your home could be the culprit. Learn how you can improve your indoor air quality with Energy Smart Home Improvement—here are some of the causes of poor IAQ in your home.
1. Mold & Humidity
Mold can grow in areas of your home where there’s too much moisture—either from high humidity levels or because of actual water leaking into your house through cracks or holes in your building envelope. Mold is most commonly found in bathrooms, due to the steam from baths or showers, or from basements, where moisture can leak in through your foundation.
Simply put, off-gassing occurs when chemicals are released from some of the things inside our homes, or even the building materials of our houses themselves. This can include:
Plywood and particleboard
Do you know that “new smell” when you get a new piece of furniture or a carpet? You might associate that smell as something positive, but what you’re smelling is actually the delayed release of harmful chemicals associated with the manufacturing process—finishes, glue, paint, and more.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemical gasses emitted from certain solids or liquids. The off-gassing mentioned above is actually a type of VOC. But there are a number of additional harmful VOCs in your home, including:
Household cleaning products
Office printers and copy machines
4. Combustion by-products
If you have a combustion furnace, stove, boiler, or hot water heater, you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is released as fuel is burned to create energy. Normally combustion gases are vented out of your home, but if there are leaks or your system isn’t working properly, there are significant health risks associated with this gas that you can’t see, taste, or smell.
5. Pet dander
How many pets do you have in your home? Pet dander is dried skin that an animal sheds along with its hair, and it can cause allergy-like heath issues like irritated eyes and throat, coughing fits, sneezing and runny nose, and more.
Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive element that can get into your home, often from the soil around your house. There are no known short-term health effects associated with radon to look out for, but it can be very dangerous and even deadly, leading to approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year. The only way to be sure that you don’t have harmful levels of radon in your home is with radon testing.
7. Dust, dirt and pollen
Don’t count out the small particles that can build up in your home if you don’t clean or vacuum frequently! Dust, dirt, pollen, and other small particles can be brought inside by the people or animals living in your house, or can enter through small cracks and gaps in your building’s exterior.
Solutions to Help Make Your Indoor Air Healthier
Worried that you might have indoor air quality problems affecting your health and wondering what the next steps are? At Energy Smart Home Improvement, we specialize in identifying the underlying issues related to indoor air quality and recommending the home upgrades that will help prevent outdoor pollutants from entering your home.
Indoor air quality testing can identify what the specific kinds of air pollutants in your home are, which can help narrow down where they’re coming from.
A home energy audit will help a home performance contractor identify the weakest areas in your home and find out where indoor air quality issues are coming from.
Using the results of our audit, our whole home experts will recommend the home improvements that will work to address your IAQ issues. Many of these solutions, like replacing your insulation, adding air sealing, and crawlspace encapsulation, come with many benefits. Not only are these upgrades likely to help improve your indoor air, but they can drastically reduce your heating and cooling costs and improve your overall home comfort.