August Project: How to Keep Your Home Healthy

Aside from what you may think, your home can get sick. Not in the traditional sense of course, but if you have poor ventilation, harmful gases and other things can make your home sick.

If you have inadequate ventilation, it may cause your home to get sick.  New houses are insulated so well that fresh air can't get in.  Also, moisture can build up in these situations which may lead to a mold problem.

Some building materials can cause your home to get sick. These building materials release harmful things into the air which makes it uncomfortable for people.  The home ultimately becomes congested with internal pollutants.  Winter is especially the time to watch for pollutants in the air becaue the air flow is generally less during that season. Here are some sources of pollutants:  carpets, furnace, fireplace, pressed wood cabinets and cupboards, excessive moisture.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are a wide array of chemicals that seep into the air over time. A home's “new smell” can sometimes be harmful causing headaches, nausea and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
 
You may be able to tell if there's a problem in your home.  Your nose can usually tell; however, professionals rely on equipment to diagnose a problem.

Newly introduced VOCs, especially in carpet, can easily be detected by the odor they give off. They smell "new." Open up a cupboard door and smell. If it smells "funny," formaldehyde may be present. If you see discolored walls, it may be mold.

If you don't trust your senses, you can always call a professional. It might cost around $200, but you'll get some definite answers about your home's sickness.

Also, make sure you hire an experienced home inspector if you're thinking of buying a house.

Below, you'll find some simple solutions to reduce or eliminate these harmful polluntants or VOCs.

  • Change furnace filter once a month.
  • Turn on the bathroom vent fan when showering. This prevents mold growth.
  • Clean humidifier and air conditioning drain pans
  • Don't allow smoking in your home. 
  • Air out new carpet, drapes or furniture before bringing them inside.
  • Clean the gutters to avoid any moisture seepage.
  • Repair cracks in basement/foundation
  • Perform regular cleaning maintenance on all fuel-burning appliances/fireplaces 
  • Seal units like the gas furnace and hot water heater to prevent dangerous gases from entering the home.

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