Posts Tagged ‘health and safety’

The Final Four of Home Performance

March 19, 2014

4bracketMarch Madness bracket filled out? There’s nothing like the passion and drive in college basketball. We’ve got the same thing when it comes to energy audits and delivering the information you need to understand and to fix the problems in your home.
Comfort comes to mind first in the Final Four of Home Performance. While it may not be the most important on our list it’s the most thought of. An energy assessment and the improvements that follow can change your home into a place of comfort to watch the game.

Efficiency means we can pay the bills, save a little money and help the environment. Making sure your home’s components, work like a team on the court, every aspect playing its part, means a big win in the end.

Health and Safety round out our final four in this game and go hand in hand. Safety testing and identifying health concerns in your home are a part of our assessment and recommendations every time.



March Madness and the Final Four

March 10, 2014

BasketballMad as a March Hare? We tend to get a bit cagey at the end of the winter ready for spring to well, spring. At least there’s college basketball! It’s great to see these teams move their way through the roster towards April, warmer weather and the Final Four!
Guard against foul weather and center your home with the slam dunk of comfort, efficiency, health and safety. It’s what every home should be!



Bird’s Nests and Broken Flues

December 6, 2013

We are well into the heating season for many areas of the country.  And recently we talked about

bird nesta clean and tune; the annual servicing of your heating equipment.    This can be done at any point in the year but some of us wait to the last minute to do it.  Some sign on with a service agreement so they don’t have to think about it.

Efficiency is a big part of getting your furnace or boiler running in top shape, but it’s important to check equipment attached to flues or chimneys to ensure that they are actually drafting properly.  The bird nest built over the summer in this home in Allentown Pa  caused a lot of problems for the residents, in particular potentially lethal levels of Carbon Monoxide.

Consider a BPI certified contractor capable of doing testing needed to ensure the worst case doesn’t happen.   Make nesting for the winter comfortable and safe!




Worse than Burning the Bird

November 20, 2013

There are plenty of things to consider for Thanksgiving, like making sure you  thaw out the bird properly, and cook it at the right temperatures.  And some guests may have food allergies as well so it’s always good to ask.


Food aside, there are other concerns, and ventilation is an important one. People need it and so do homes.  Over the holidays it can get stuffy with so many people visiting, but if your home is that way without guests, you suffer from high humidity or poor air quality, maybe it’s time to do something about it.   An assessment is a good place to start.  It’s nice to have ventilation systems in place all the time not just for the holidays.

One specific kind of ventilation, exhaust fans in kitchens, help us by removing smoke and odors, and especially if you’re cooking with gas, carbon monoxide.  While it’s not smart to use a grill inside, most people forget that their gas stove is a source for Carbon Monoxide; cooking a turkey in a hot stove for hours without exhausting the kitchen could put your family at risk for CO poisoning, and that is worse than burning the bird!





Helping out the Orphans?

November 12, 2013

I’m not talking about the Oliver Twists of the world, but the orphans I’m referring may be in your home, in closets, basements and garages.



What I’m referring to is something our advisors come across in an energy audit on a regular basis, an orphaned appliance; usually it’s a naturally drafting water heater.   It means that the small flue that comes off of the orphaned appliance runs to a larger chimney that used to share another combustion appliance with.  Without the larger one to help, the orphaned appliance can struggle to draw properly.


In fact it may not draw at all, which means the unhealthy combustion gasses will enter your home instead of exit it, that can be dangerous.

This is why it is so important to have a professional test the health and safety of equipment in your home as well as test the home itself and how it can influence the equipment.   Not every heating technician does this on a regular seasonal tune up.  Our energy advisors check for carbon monoxide in the equipment and throughout the home.  We check how fans and doors in the home interact with the area combustion appliances live. We keep an eye out for orphans every day do every day as BPI certified auditors.  There’s much more to a comprehensive energy audit than energy!

Help these orphans and help make your home a safer one!




Orphan flyer picture:

Home as microbiology experiment? Moisture, keep it reasonable and stay safe

June 29, 2012

Candida albicans PHIL 3192 lores
There are many sources of moisture in the home.  Cooking, showering, houseplants, and people are some expected sources.  Crawlspaces and basements can add to the humidity as well. And no matter where it comes from, too much humidity can promote the growth of unwanted microbes, mold, mildew and bacteria.  It should be a healthy home, not a lab experiment.

Consider some steps to avoid high humidity in the home:

  • Gutters and good grading can help divert water away from the foundation.
  • Cover dirt floors in crawl spaces and basements with heavy duty plastic, it reduces odors and moisture
  • Ensure that clothes dryers are properly vented to the outdoors.
  • Use ventilation fans to remove moisture generated by showering, bathing, and cooking.
  • Reduce the number of plants in humid areas.
  • If you burn wood, don’t store it in the basement.
  • Do not open basement windows and doors in the summer to dry out the basement. This can make the problem worse by allowing moist outdoor air into your cool basement, causing increased condensation. Crawlspaces (and basements) may not need venting, sometimes it makes it worse. I’ve talked about this here

Most of the time we know we have too much moisture only after it’s too late.  Wet stains on walls and ceilings, rotten wood, condensation on the windows, and musty smells let us know something is wrong.  Clearly indoor air quality suffers, so it’s best to keep your eye out for trouble.   Suffer from allergies?  You might be creating an ideal situation for the growth of the bacteria and mold that cause them.  Our homes are made of mold food: wood, sheetrock, paper.  It should be a palace not a Petri dish!



Spring Ahead and Think Ahead Too: Save Yourself From More than a Headache from Carbon Monoxide!

March 8, 2012

Here is an excellent reminder from the CDC for those who need to adjust to daylight savings this Sunday March 11, 2012: change the batteries in your CO detector.   CO Poisoning can be stopped

I’ve mentioned the dangers of CO in our homes in past posts such as in Testing: more than efficiency for safety’s sake  or A Bad Idea: unvented gas fire place.  I suspect CO may even have an unintended influence on us after Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a simple thing to check the batteries or maybe just test the unit as some are hardwired.  It is also important to make sure your CO detector alarms at low levels of carbon monoxide.  The UL standards for CO detectors start at a level of 70 PPM for a 1-2 hour exposure.  Higher levels are obviously worse, but I think the lower range is just as dangerous. CO in the air robs us of oxygen and to be safe, I’d like the levels in my home to be zero.

The U.S. consumer product safety commission suggests that most folks are not affected in the low exposure ranges of 1-70 PPM.  Funny because others, such as The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a recommended exposure limit of 35 PPM.  We spend as much time if not more in our homes than on the job.  This is important!

35 PPM is the same maximum level Building Performance Institute certified advisors watch out for when performing assessments on homes, but really we don’t want CO in our homes at all.  As we change our clocks and the days get longer, let’s consider longer and healthier lives as well!  

Thanks, Jason

Miracle Material and Alchemists Asset: A Modern Day Construction Curse?

February 23, 2012

 Asbestos has captured the attention of human kind for thousands of years.   In fact, the Greek physician Dioscorides noted in De Materia Medica that handkerchiefs made of asbestos were reused, cleaned by fire[i].   Maybe a fine way to prevent the spread of germs well before it was widely understood, but I can’t imagine they were good for anyone’s health.

 The material is fireproof, strong, flexible, and is an all natural mineral mined from the earth.  Easy to see why it has captured the attention of so many including medieval alchemists who suggested the fibers came from hairs of fire resistant salamanders!   It was with the growth of industry that the use of asbestos really took off, and took a toll on us all. 

I do not wish to entirely vilify the material; it is still used and necessary in many applications in industry. But since the construction boom after World War II, its widespread use in products in our homes as well as the misunderstanding of the dangers behind the material, a costly toll has been paid.  What is clear is that the material has been used in many things from ceiling tiles, shingles, floor tiles, loose insulation, and pipe insulation.  The question is what do we do with it now we better understand the inherent dangers and realize it exists in many forms in our homes?  We will look into this more in the coming weeks stay tuned!



 Tremolite image used with permission from Asbestorama on flickr.

[i] James E Alleman and Brooke T. Mossman, Asbestos Revisited in Scientific American, July 1997

Climate Change, the Indoor Environment and Health: Pay attention, your life depends on how you treat your house.

June 14, 2011

 A recent study from the Institute of Medicine identifies how climate change affects the environment in our homes which has an impact on our nation’s health. It is Ironic that when the weather gets worse, we seek shelter indoors from extremes outside and in doing so still potentially put our health at risk. It is also reassuring that as a Home Performance contractor our work on homes is just what the “doctor ordered”. Most of the issues raised in the report are exactly the things we keep an eye out for with health and safety in mind. Every job we do starts and finishes with testing to ensure your home is a safe haven.

The report identifies 5 major issues:

Indoor Air quality: People don’t think all the cleaning chemicals under the sink amount to much but they can. We tend to leave all sorts of chemicals in our homes, leave connections to garages full of thing we shouldn’t breathe. We also have combustion appliances in our home which left un-checked can cause issues with CO. Our advisors keep an eye out for these conditions, it’s an integral part or health and safety for us.

Dampness and Moisture: Extreme weather conditions outside lead to more frequent issues in our homes as water gets in where it shouldn’t. Cooling systems can contribute to moisture issue if not handled properly and certainly basements and crawlspaces do too. There are fixes for spaces with moisture issues that we sometimes ignore until it’s too late.

Bugs and Bugs: weather and climate change can influence infectious diseases and pests and expanding the area where they flourish. A new “bug in town” will lead to new exposure for some of us and possibly an increase in pesticides previously not used before. Moisture in our home can lead to issues with mold and other pests. A home should be a healthy haven not a petri dish.

Thermal Stress: High heat especially for those not prepared or more susceptible such as the elderly, will experience thermal stress almost exclusively inside. With temperature extremes come power outages compromising our ability to run cooling systems. Treating our buildings by insulating against the heat helps buffer your home.

Building Ventilation, Weatherization and Energy use: As we experience climate change and weather extremes it gives us good reason to weatherize but it must be handled with expertise and always with a mind towards health and safety. No longer can we tighten up a home or insulate it without thinking about the whole house. GreenHomes America makes sure that every home is left a healthier home at job’s end.

“Fixing” old buildings with new methods can create new problems if not done properly.  Being a BPI accredited company   means we are committed to quality and accountability. A comprehensive Home Assessment with solutions provided to you from our team of experts will offer the safest answers to the ever changing environment inside.

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