Posts Tagged ‘indoor air quality issues’

Money, Good Health and a Comfortable Home, We Have Solutions!

September 3, 2013

Why Get an Energy Audit?  Watch this Video….

The Six P’s, and some more!

December 11, 2012

Some may have heard the expression before:  “Proper Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance” or possibly a less pleasant version, but I will leave that to your imagination.  Permutations previewed in this photo provide possibilities for a plethora of problems, primarily CO poisoning!

Please provide proper ventilation for atmospheric combustion equipment such as the water heater shown here. VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200This is common configuration for a water heater, drawing combustion air from its surroundings, but it can create problems!

Pressures in a house can change and affect equipment like this.  Our predecessors discovered that it was more pleasant when smoke from the fire went up the chimney.  It’s more than pleasant but imperative! 

This chimney shown is going downhill before it goes up, the primary problem! Our heating equipment needs to be vented properly or those gasses enter our homes.  Consider having your combustion equipment checked as part of a whole house assessment

Please, a plug, poke, or paltry plea, proper planning provides prime performance, and prevents poisoning (CO that is!).

Pthanks,

Jason

 

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!

Thanks,

Jason

The Sweetness of Home Performance

January 24, 2012

 Coming from New England, I find winter on the West Coast is a different beast.  The lack of snow is not really it.  I think it’s the fact that there are citrus trees in many back yards.  My recent visit to one of our fine GreenHomes America partners, Residential Energy Pros  in San Jose, California, reminded me that no matter where you go, remodeling changes our homes in ways we are never sure of, often not for the best and often in a way that sacrifices our comfort or costs us money we shouldn’t be throwing away.

I constantly preach the importance of air sealing (watch some videos here), and on a home assessment during my visit, we were pleasantly surprised that the home was not as leaky as many we see.  This home originally had a flat roof and at some point a new one was built over it.  This old roof created a fairly good air barrier but there were still leaks as well as a lack of good insulation, creating rooms that can get very hot and uncomfortable in the summer, and too cold and uncomfortable in the winter. And blindly tightening a home without paying attention to important details and considerations like moisture and combustion safety isn’t smart either.  Despite its relative tightness there were still some issues with this home.

Like many homes out West, this house had a crawlspace.  And with crawlspaces, we often see a lot of indoor air quality issues (homes with basements or slabs are NOT immune!).  For this home, air from the crawlspace was constantly being drawn into the home and filtered through the carpet at the hatch! This doesn’t just dirty the carpet—it means the homeowners were breathing in crawlspace air all day, but since the hatch was right in the bedroom, more concentrated air where they spend 8 hours a day.   

Something else we noted was that the home also had a lot of condensation on the windows.  Too much moisture was sticking around in the home in the form of high humidity.  This is a problem because, the condensation pools at the sill, starts to rot the trim, and even the underlying framing.  High humidity can also promote mold and mildew growth elsewhere.

Some of that moisture could be dealt with by installing good spot ventilation, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Even when you are opening the windows during large parts of the year it is good to control indoor air and moisture.

All of these things are problems we look to address with home performance, no matter where the home is located.   Maybe some suffer through some discomfort and high energy bills in the short term in California since they have the luxury of plucking lemons from the back yard.   But why settle for lemons when with a little bit of work you can have lemonade?


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