Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can affect your health in a number of ways. Some of these factors are obvious, while others are a little more difficult to detect. The good news is that when you can identify why your IAQ is suffering, you can choose the solution that’s right for your home. The first step is learning about the main factors that can affect your IAQ.
What Are the 5 Main Factors that Affect Indoor Air Quality?
The long and short-term effects of poor IAQ can be debilitating. Respiratory issues, asthma attacks, rash, and other symptoms can be addressed when you address the health of your air indoors. Know how to improve your indoor air by knowing what can be the culprit. Here are five main factors to look for in your Pittsburgh area home.
1. Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are in a lot of products that go into making and designing homes, from floors to furniture. They are released into your home via off-gassing, which can continue for years after materials are installed or paint is dry.
Although some VOCs are inevitable, a large amount in your indoor air can affect your health. If you feel excessive fatigue, active allergies, and nausea, you may want to consider replacing some of the materials in your home to reduce the VOCs in your indoor air.
Materials like paints, adhesives, varnishes, particleboard, and foam can contain a lot of these toxic compounds. If you’re concerned about your home’s VOC level or are planning a remodel already, talk to a trusted builder about choosing materials that contain a lower amount of VOCs for your home. Low or Zero VOC paints are becoming widely available, so you won’t have to compromise on quality for healthier paint options.
As for flooring, VOCs are often found in adhesives and varnishes that secure and seal your floors. The least harmful flooring is hardwood that’s sealed with water-based polyurethane. If the investment of hardwood is a concern, there are also luxury vinyl tile flooring and low VOC options that are very stylish and durable. The flooring choices with no VOCs are ceramic and porcelain tiles, but be sure to specify that you’d prefer to use low VOC adhesives.
2. Humidity Level
Some humidity in your home is normal and even necessary. A healthy humidity level indoors is between 40% and 50%, but above that and you may begin to have mold and mildew growth. Unhealthy humidity levels can be caused by water leaks, frequent condensation on the inside of your windows, or moist air coming in from outside. High humidity in the home and the biological growth that follows can irritate asthma symptoms, cause shortness of breath, and other respiratory issues.
If you’re suspicious of your home’s humidity levels, a hygrometer is a small and inexpensive tool that will read your home’s humidity level. Lots of daily activities can exacerbate this issue. First, enlist a home builder to help determine where the issue is coming from, and if there could be more than one source. Are your hood and bathroom vents in working order? Do your windows and doors have seals and frames in good condition? Is your home older, with carpet that lacks a vapor barrier? If windows or doors are the issue, they may be too far gone to be resealed, and newer windows and doors will need to be installed.
3. Natural Sunlight
Natural sunlight has the power to clean indoor air. It’s true! The sun’s rays will kill bacteria and improve your air quality. Even newer energy-efficient windows that block UV rays will still allow in enough light to act as nature’s disinfectant. In a home with little natural light, you may have too few windows or windows in areas that don’t make the most of natural sunlight.
When you’re thinking of remodeling your Northeast home, consult with a knowledgeable designer that can guide the planning process for new window installation. They will be able to identify where a new window opening will gain the most sunlight or where a skylight might be more suitable.
Indoor plants can also improve your home’s IAQ. With more access to natural light, you’ll have healthier plants that can provide healthier air.
4. Dust, Pets, & Pollen
We all love our pets, but not the allergens they can introduce to our indoor air. Even if you’re not allergic to your pet, you can be affected by the dander, dust, bacteria, pollen, and other pollutants that they carry. What’s worse? Even excrement from rodents and insects can collect on their fur as airborne particles and pollute your home. All of these harmful factors can result in respiratory issues.
There are things your remodeler can do to help clean your air. An in-duct air purifier removes harmful microparticles from your home’s indoor air by aiding your standard air filter. While your HVAC system is in use, an electric air cleaner uses a set of charged plates to attract particles and keep them passing through your ducts. Another type of electric air cleaner, an electrostatic filter, uses an electrically charged filter to attract charged particles and should be replaced every two years.
Either of these types needs to be installed by a professional, so consider this before your remodel, so you can work with your builder, rather than paying for the installation down the line.
5. Mold & Mildew
Mold and mildew often come about because of water leaks, excess moisture in walls, ceilings, and floors, or poor drainage systems. These microbial contaminants can cause serious issues in the respiratory system and cause asthma attacks. If you suddenly notice small mold or mildew spots on your ceiling or wall, chances are, the problem is much worse when you look below the surface.
Unfortunately, the only way to know the source of the problem for sure is to call a home remodeler to investigate. Your remodeler may need to use mitigation techniques to kill the microbes, and possibly replace the contaminated materials. Your remodeler will also need to address the origin of the problem; which could be plumbing fixtures or pipes.
Are You Concerned About the Indoor Air in Your Northeast Home?
A home remodeler should not only create spaces that are well-designed and built but also safe. Improving indoor air must be approached from all of these angles and more. To learn more about what a knowledgeable remodeler can do for your Northeast home’s IAQ, contact Master Remodelers to schedule a consultation. Master Remodelers is the premier remodeler in the Pittsburgh area for award-winning designs. However, one of our points of pride is also knowing that after our work is complete, we know that your home is safe.