Most of us take the quality of our indoor environments for granted. Cleaning with eco-friendly solutions, along with regularly vacuuming and dusting, gives your home or workspace the appearance of being clean. Maybe even inspiring.
Do you know?
The average American spends 87% of their lives indoors (Environmental Protection Agency).
Some pollutants can be up to 5x higher indoors than outdoors (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health).
Air pollutants range from such fairly benign irritants as dust, pollen, and dirt to more fatal hazards, such as carbon monoxide and radon. Pollutants are not always detectable by sight, smell, or taste. Sometimes, we have to pay close attention to our symptoms and environment in order to follow the trail back to the source of the problem.
If you’re a customer, you’re family, and to keep all our family’s safe, here are 7 signs your building is negatively impacting your health:
1. Chilly drafts appear during the winter.
Winter is the easiest time of year to detect drafts in a building. Stand by windows, doors, HVAC vents, and exterior walls to try to feel chill air on your skin. However, these leaks cause inefficiencies all year, and in the summertime, while you can’t feel it, your air conditioner is running harder to compensate.
Dust, pollen, dirt, and moisture all come in on these tiny breezes sneaking in around windows and doors or through ductwork. The particulates can irritate those with allergies, and combined with the moisture, they create the recipe for mold and mildew.
The Fix: You may need new windows and additional insulation in the exterior walls, attic, and even around light switch panels. Homeowners in Massachusetts can receive special deals, financing, and incentives to make these energy-efficient upgrades from the MassSave collaborative of state natural gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers.
2. Winter also brings a lot of static electricity.
Drafty dwellings can also create very dry conditions. Wintertime is also when people wear warm socks, sweaters, and other cozy garments. Combine the two and you have a lot of static electricity discharges when you touch things.
The Fix: As mentioned above, tightening up the building and eliminating the drafts is the solution. After that, it’s important to find affordable climate control equipment to customize the indoor environment you want.
3. Basements (or any other room) shouldn’t smell like mildew.
“That basement smell” is not healthy. You’re probably smelling mildew, which means there’s moisture and not enough air flow. There’s a great article here about how you can remodel your basement into the envy of the neighborhood.
Smelling mildew or mold in other areas of your home can be a bad problem. It could mean there’s a water leak somewhere. But remember, we breathe out moisture, and if that water vapor isn’t ventilated out of the room, it’ll collect and cause dampness.
The Fix: If the humidity problem runs throughout the dwelling, you may want to consider upgrading your central heating and cooling system. If the issue is specific to a particular room, a ductless mini-split system may be an affordable and seamless solution.
4. The smell of dinner cooking lingers until breakfast.
A search online about lingering odors in the home gets you a list of DIY remedies for deodorizing and cleaning trouble spots. However, that may just be a Band-Aid for a bigger issue. In buildings with poor air flow, common odors hang around for a long time. This may not make you unhealthy, but it’s a sign the air isn’t moving enough, which creates poor air quality.
The Fix: Start by checking your filter and existing ductwork of your central HVAC system. The system could just be clogged. The next step is to investigate upgrading your HVAC system of augmenting it with a ductless mini-split.
5. You feel fine.
All the signs of poor indoor air quality talked about so far have been detectable using our senses in some way. Not all pollutants can be noticed by sight, smell, or taste, according to the SmarterHouse project.
Dirty ductwork polluting the air, carbon monoxide from a leaky boiler, and radon from igneous rock and soil are all examples of “invisible” air pollutants. In the case of radon, an exposed person won’t even show symptoms. These are pollutants you have to stay ahead of by assessing your indoor air quality specifically for these unseen hazards.
The Fix: A carbon monoxide detector and radon test kit can get you started on your own. If you believe you, your family, or coworkers are being exposed to a potentially lethal pollutant, request a professional assessment immediately.
6. Leaving work for extended periods “cures” you.
Who doesn’t feel better after a vacation from work, right? But often, environmental ailments come on when a person is in the building and subside when she/he leaves. Common pollutants a good air-cleaning filter can alleviate can come from office equipment, carpets and furnishings, perfumes, volatile organic compounds (VOC), and more.
On the other hand, if you feel better when you’re at work, take a closer look at possible airborne pollutants in your home.
The Fix: Talk to a factory-trained HVAC technician about the latest choices of air purifying filters for your heat pump and air handler. Today’s filters can remove airborne allergens and kill airborne germs, and wipe out surface bacteria and viruses.
7. You have chronic discomfort from one of the “sick” building symptoms.
Buildings with poor air quality may impact your health, but for a building to be identified as having sick building syndrome by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of the workforce must present any of these symptoms:
Dry, itchy skin
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Plus, you’re always welcome to contact the trusted heating, cooling, and air quality experts at Total Temperature Control.