indoor air quality

Tips To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

You pride yourself on keeping a clean home. The laundry is washed, the dishes are dry and the den where the children built their pillow fort has been restored to sanity. You’ve been vigilant about cleaning up the messes you can see, but what about the messes you can’t? What are you doing to improve the air quality in your home?
You may not think about the air quality in your home because the problem isn’t visible, but that doesn’t stop dust, dander or chemicals from polluting your air. Everyday living generates up to 40 pounds of dust in a six-room house every year, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association.
Taking steps to clean the air in your home will do more than just improve air quality; it will also save you money. Twenty-five to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted because contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work inefficiently, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you’re interested in improving the air quality in your home and saving money while you do it, here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction.
Hire a professional to clean your most important asset
Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system literally takes air in and breathes air out. Because of this, keeping your HVAC system and your ducts clean is the most important thing you can do to improve your home’s air quality. “If your ducts look dirty, they probably are,” is NADCA’s advice to consumers.
Have your system serviced by a certified technician. This will not only improve the quality of the air in your home, it will allow your heating and cooling system to run more efficiently, saving you money on energy bills.
Make sure to hire a NADCA-certified technician. All members have certified Air Systems Cleaning Specialists (ASCS) on staff and they are required to further their education by attending seminars and to adhere to the NADCA code of ethics.
Encourage ventilation
Today’s newer homes are built air tight, making ventilation difficult. The simplest way to encourage ventilation is to simply open windows. In the bathroom, turn on the exhaust fan to stop steam from collecting dirt and keeping it in the bathroom. In the kitchen, place any appliance that creates steam or oily vapor under the stove hood. Finally, make sure vents on the outside of your home are not blocked by leaves or snow as season dictates.
Prevent mold
Mold can be one of the most harmful contaminators of air quality. You’ll find mold in areas where moisture and poor ventilation come together. Vacuum rear grills on appliances like your fridge and freezer to improve ventilation and empty and clean any drip trays to eliminate mold. If you have a leaky pipe in your home make sure it is addressed. Take a tour outside and trim any bushes or shrubs that have grown too close as that proximity can lead to mold and algae.
Replace filters and screens
In the warmer months, clean the area around your air conditioner and repair any vermin screens on your chimney flues that may be damaged. During the cooler months, remove screens from any window that may trap condensation and make sure to change your furnace filter monthly.
Keeping the air in your home clean is just as important as washing the dishes or cleaning the clothes. The first step is to have your heating and cooling systems serviced by a NADCA technician. Once that is complete, follow these tips to maintain your air quality. To learn more about NADCA and how you can benefit from an HVAC cleaning, visit nadca.com/en/faq.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!

Three Home Improvement Tips To Help You Breathe Easier

One in five Americans suffer from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). As the 2013 allergy season begins, experts warn that it may be one of the worst in recent years, with people experiencing an unusually strong reaction due to increased tree pollen.
But little attention is paid to the impact of indoor air on allergies, asthma and general health. We spend an average of approximately 90 percent or more of our time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA reports that “indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels.”
How does this impact your next home improvement project? A survey by Angie’s List revealed Americans spend more than $300 billion annually on remodeling projects. Yet these endeavors typically focus solely on a home’s aesthetics while ignoring one important consideration: Is your home healthy?
Start at the bottom
We all want beautiful floors in our homes. Many people, however, don’t realize that some new flooring can threaten your indoor air quality. When flooring is installed, you may notice an odor for a few days or even weeks. The odor might mean noxious gases are emitting from the materials used during installation. And these emissions, particularly those resulting from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), could potentially have serious, long-term effects on your health – as well as an immediate impact on the health of family members with asthma or allergies.
The good news is gorgeous flooring options are now available that are certified “asthma and allergy friendly” by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2010, Tarkett Flooring committed resources toward developing flooring solutions which help people breathe easier. The company’s FiberFloor is the industry’s only residential flooring currently certified by the AAFA. To earn this certification, the flooring underwent rigorous testing by the AAFA and successfully met the following criteria:
* Installation of the flooring does not result in elevated levels of chemicals.
* The flooring has a low capacity for retaining allergens.
* The recommended cleaning of the flooring will not result in exposure to airborne allergens.
Additionally, other flooring options offered by Tarkett, such as its luxury vinyl tiles and planks and laminates, are FloorScore-certified by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) together with Scientific Certification Systems for better indoor air quality.
Tarkett’s “iSelect” program simplifies flooring options and introduces customers to an interactive, multi-faceted shopping experience.- The system begins with six inspirational color families: Champagne Celebrations, Hushed Conversations, Earthy Connections, Evening Receptions, Fireside Chats, and Warm Gatherings – each offering its own feel and color space to help you find the perfect floor to meet your design, durability and health needs while also coordinating with your existing furnishings and adjoining floors.
Spring for PVC-free accessories
Did you know that your shower curtain can be one of the greatest sources of noxious gas in your home? Many homeowners purchase PVC shower curtains and liners because of their functionality and ease of cleaning. However, according to “Practically Green,” a website for people interested in green living, a recent study “found that 108 different volatile organic compounds, including those known to cause developmental, liver, nervous system, respiratory and reproductive damage, were released into indoor air by PVC shower curtains.” Replacing current shower curtains and liners with PVC-free products are quick and inexpensive fixes that will make your bathrooms healthier for the whole family.
Manage mold and mildew
If you’re noticing moisture or mold building up on your windows, have your home checked by an energy rater or a building analyst. To prevent moisture from getting in your windows, select windows made with double pane, insulated glass to create an insulating barrier and keep moisture, mildew or mold from developing. For added energy savings, you can opt for a Low Emissivity or “Lo-E” coating to keep heat from radiating beyond the side of the window where it originated. You’ll save on your heating and air conditioning bills while also minding your health.
Home improvements should be a proud reminder that your home is your castle and you treat it well. This year, consider investing in simple projects that can also improve the health of the castle’s residents.

Reid Guthrie has owned and operated his Home Inspection Seattle company, The Home Detective, since January 1995. As a licensed home inspector, Reid covers Seattle and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know are looking for a thorough Seattle Home Inspector, look no further than The Home Detective ~ The More Thorough We Are, The More Defects We Find, The More Money You Save!