How to Keep Mold and Toxins Out of Your House

Keep Mold and Toxins out of home

One of the most dangerous, damaging and destructive things that can ruin a home is mold.  If left unchecked, mold can not only destroy your home, it can effectively drop the value of your home to zero.  That’s right, your home can lose all of its value because of mold.

Additionally, the danger or toxins in the home is ever present:  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Toxic air pollutants, also known as hazardous air pollutants, are those pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects.”  The dangers of radon and carbon monoxide could also be quietly lurking in your home, but are easily detectible.

So how can a homeowner keep mold and dangerous toxins at bay?

Here are 7 ways to effectively combat the almost unseen enemy:

1.  When water leaks occur, act quickly to dry the wet or damp material to keep mold from growing.  If left unchecked mold can start to grow quickly.

2.  Keep HVAC drip pans clean and all drain lines unobstructed and free flowing.  Have your HVAC system checked annually by a professional to ensure it’s running correctly and at highest efficiency.

3.  Keep indoor humidity low in both warm and cold months.  Humidity in unventilated rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens, attics and basements can create a breeding ground, allowing mold to grow quickly.  If your basement or attic is musty, install dehumidifiers and vents to exhaust stale air.  Ideally, humidity levels throughout your home should be between 30% and 50%.  Yet, humidity levels can differ greatly by room and level.  Utilize an HVAC system with an air exchanger.  Air conditioning will lower humidity levels in the summer. Also, properly vent your home in the colder months to minimize condensation.

4.  Vent all appliances that produce moisture (dryers, stoves, heaters) to the outdoors, in order to keep humidity lower.

5.  Over decades toxins such as lead, as well as brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) and allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites can accumulate in your home.  The simple utilization of a good vacuum with a HEPA filter can dramatically reduce these toxins in the home.

6.  Install detectors that can alert you to the presence of deadly carbon monoxide.  Literally, like a fire detector, a CO2 detector can save your life and the lives of your family.

7.  Test for radon. (Radon is now the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States).  Radon is radioactive and is emitted naturally from the decay of uranium in most soils.  What most people do not know is that even if your home is tightly sealed or has no basement, you still could have a radon problem.

This list is a good start for any household and if followed, could potentially save lives.  If you have any questions, please feel welcome to request a consultation.

3 Reasons You Need a Well Ventilated House

3 Reasons to Ventilate Your House

Today’s tighter homes, while often much more efficient that older, less insulated homes, still have their own needs for maintaining that coveted efficiency. One of the most important aspects to maintaining an energy-efficient home is keeping it well ventilated. Exhausting old, stale air and tempering incoming air with a minimal footprint is optimal. Here are three specific reasons you need to keep your house well ventilated.

Roof Longevity

Attic and roof ventilation can dramatically improve the longevity of your shingles. Without ventilation, condensation can build during both warm and cold months. Specifically, during colder months research has shown that effective ventilation of a roof covered with snow, which acts as an insulator by trapping moisture within the roof shingles themselves, will both improve the life of the shingle and the roof itself. Additionally, ventilating an attic and a roof will help minimize condensation caused by ice damming and will further prolong the life of the roof. Though ideally, there are additional preventative measures that need to be taken to avoid leakage into a home when ice damming occurs.

Mold Prevention

One of the most overlooked ways to preserve the value of a home is ensuring proper ventilation of the attic and basement. Without proper attic ventilation, in both warm weather and cold, a house will have to combat condensation. Unchecked condensation can lead to mold and mold will greatly reduce the value of your home. In addition, mold, which is not always visible and can readily grow silently behind and inside walls, especially in damp areas, causing strong allergic reactions and even neurological damage.

Mold is extremely damaging to a house and remediation is expensive, time consuming and disruptive. Yet, there are several basic steps that the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention specifically recommend to keep your house mold-free.

*Keep humidity levels between 40% and 60%
*Use a de-humidifier if levels are above 55%
*Keep attics, as well as kitchens and bathrooms and basements properly ventilated
*Replace soaked carpets and keep carpets out of typically damp environments
*Monitor your HVAC system for signs of mold
*If you find mold, act quickly to address the issue

HVAC Efficiency

Many homeowners are concerned with the overall efficiency of their homes. Minimizing expenses is in direct correlation to the efficiency of the HVAC system. Keeping your HVAC system ventilation balanced increases its efficiency and therefore can help minimize the cost of heating and cooling your home.

An efficient HVAC system keeps the exchange of indoor air and outdoor air properly balanced. Air exchangers can contain a “heat exchanger core” that utilizes the heating or cooling energy in the outgoing air to help heat or cool the incoming air. This process helps to minimize cooling or heating the incoming air, and therefore is a more efficient and less costly system.

If you have questions about maintaining the efficiency of your home as we approach the warmer months, don’t [contact us to schedule a consultation](link).

Tate Livelsberger

Do I Need to Ventilate My Home?

Why Ventilate My Home

Why Ventilate

While we spend so much of our time ensuring that are homes are sealed against the elements and every space and crevice is insulated to keep mother nature from seeping in–and our heat or air conditioning from seeping out, it is very important to make sure your house is properly ventilated.

While older homes seldom face this dilemma, modern home construction utilizes techniques that have greatly reduced, and in some instances almost eliminated, the stereotypical “drafty” house.

But sealed houses have issues that must be addressed, such as:  increased humidity, mold, condensation, chemical off-gassing and even issues that may not be immediately noticeable, such as dangerous levels of formaldehyde, or increased counts of carbon monoxide or radon that can be deadly.

And as we spend more time in our homes than ever before, a properly ventilated house is paramount for the homeowner.
So, as both a homeowner and a home builder, what do we recommend you do to properly ventilate your home and keep your family safe?

Types of Ventilation

Essentially, there are, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, three types of ventilation:  natural ventilation, spot ventilation and whole house ventilation.

Natural Ventilation

Natural ventilation is the uncontrolled movement of air throughout a home.  In older homes, this natural movement was sufficient to ensure that particulates and dangerous levels of toxins were held in check.  Today’s tighter homes greatly constrict this ventilation and therefore, it is not sufficient.

Spot Ventilation

Spot ventilation can greatly enhance a home’s natural ventilation, and includes the utilization of exhaust fans in both the kitchen and bathroom.  These types of exhaust mechanisms can also be very effective at diminishing both particulates in the home, but also can greatly decrease damaging condensation.

Whole House Ventilation

Employing whole house ventilation systems are necessary in homes where even spot ventilation is not sufficient.  These systems are responsible for exhausting old air and drawing in fresh air.  Such systems can be very effective at keeping dangerous toxin levels very low, as well as ensuring that the home is dry and condensation is minimized.

Areas to Focus Upon

There are specific areas of your home that should be properly ventilated.  Each has its own reason and we will explore those in upcoming posts.Stay tuned for posts on proper home ventilation entitled:  “Critical:  Why Keep Your Roof Ventilated,” and “Ventilate It:  Keeping Mold and Dangerous Toxins Out of Your Home.”