Is your home healthy?
Updated: Apr 6, 2018
With spring getting closer, it’s time to start packing up all our winter clothes and unpack for the summer. Unpacking those summer clothes from the container you crammed them in 6 months ago can always be a bit of a surprise - especially to your nose.
Sealed tight all winter can cause your clothes to smell a little damp, maybe even stale. This a result of them being in a tight space with little to no fresh air circulating through them. With the new 9.36 Energy Code requirements, homeowners and contractors sought to reduce the home’s heating/cooling costs as well as their impact on the environment. Although these energy savings are a step in the right direction, we may have overlooked a home’s necessity to breathe.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) should be at the forefront of renovating or building homes but it’s often a last priority. The most common contaminants such as mold, dust, and dander increase our risk for illness and make life more difficult on asthmatics. Focusing our attention on a home’s ventilation, air circulation, filtration and humidity can turn your new “greener” home into an equally important “healthy home”. I’ll take you through our process of how we achieve a healthier home. The first thing we do is hire an energy consultant to provide a plan for us to meet/exceed the new energy codes in section 9.36 of the building code. Now that the envelope of the home has been predetermined, we can’t simply rely on the house to naturally recycle the indoor air as it has for decades because the houses are required to be sealed to a much higher standard now. We then utilize the expertise of a mechanical engineer to design an hvac system suited for that specific home. This way, we’re not just making an educated guess based on experience or manufacture specification. No matter the level of experience, it’s mandatory to provide engineer approved drawings for the structure of the home, so why wouldn’t we use one to confirm that we’re also building the healthiest/most comfortable home possible. Other ways in which we can help increase the health of our home is to maintain a meticulously clean job-site throughout the course of construction. Simply covering all the HVAC openings with landscape fabric or a filter can prevent construction dust from getting into your ducts and furnace. Not using the new furnace to heat the home during construction. Further steps can be taken to improve the healthiest outcome with air scrubbers such as the one below to remove airborne dust particles and a dehumidifier to remove unnecessary moisture trapped in framing members that could cause future mold growth.
As homeowners, we should educate ourselves on the newly invested equipment and make sure we’re servicing them as required. Using the recommended furnace filter and not whatever is on sale. Monitor your homes relative humidity which is very commonly a function on most new smart thermostats. These simple steps can maximize the quality of the air you breath as well as prolong the life of your investment.