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Indoor Air Quality Updates
November 7, 2017 at 11:30 PM

Home Air Quality. At we feel that our clients deserve the best service at the best price. That is why we work hard to stay up to date on the most recent building and remodeling practices.

Having recently attended a conference on the new 2018 changes to building code regarding indoor air quality, I thought I would pass on some information that may be helpful to our customers. While the new changes to the code will not affect most home owners, there are some interesting points that stood out. These include; sources of pollutants in the home,  how to monitor and test for air quality, and what indoor air quality means to our family’s health.  

Why should you care about air quality in the home? 

As new construction code requirements demands tighter and more energy efficient buildings, having the proper airflow through a house to flush out air toxins such as CO2, smoke from cooking, fumes from burning candles and gas stoves,  and moisture control become more important. For example, molds, viruses, and bacteria love extreme moist environments and extreme dry environments. Maintaining the proper moisture level in your home air is important to keeping sickness from spreading. A good middle ground of air moisture content is 40 – 50 ppm.  This is a constant challenge to maintain and can vary throughout the day and in different rooms throughout the house. For example bathrooms, bedrooms, and basements tend to have large amounts of moisture in the air.  Bathrooms from steam and bedrooms from breathing at night.  Basements tend to have less air flow.  Without proper air circulation and exhaust of moisture from these areas, bacteria and mold have a chance to take hold and spread.  Seasonal dryness can also affect the amount of moisture in the home, however dryer air tends to be more uncomfortable to breath than moist air.  Finally, having dead air zones behind furniture or pictures  can result in moisture buildup and eventually mold.   

Kitchens are the number one offender of airborne pollutants   New standards in building code will require a hood vent or other mechanical vent to pull the smoke and other toxins from stove gas and cooking and direct them outside.   The greatest offender is PM2.5 particles. There is more information on this at PM 2.5 are the small unseen toxins that get lodged in the lungs or can pass into the bloodstream. These particles are introduced through burning of oils, fumes from our stoves, and smoke from burning food.  The code book will require an air circulation in the kitchen of 400 CFM (cubic feet per minute) or higher to vent these fumes outside should they occur in all new residential buildings after 2018.  Installing a 400 CFM range hood that collects the polluted air and venting it outside is the most effective way to rid toxins at the source.  However, the code does allow for a ceiling fan installed in the kitchen and venting outside as well.   Even though these will only apply to new construction, it is good food for thought for those with older homes. (no pun intended)

What does all of this mean for your home?

New air quality codes will require what is called a mechanical ventilation system of some sort to flush out overly moist or toxic air in the home. This will be in the form of  a kitchen exhaust fan or a ceiling mounted fan in the kitchen that pulls a minimum of 400 cfm, and another whole house exhaust. The good news is that most homes are already equipped to bring fresh air into the home and eliminate toxins through their bathroom ceiling fan. This can be done by keeping a bath the fan running, preferably on the top floor of the home. Leave the bathroom  and other doors open will help draw air from the entire house.  If your home is 20 years old or more, there are probably enough cracks and gaps in the building to allow for new air to replace it, but cracking a window on the bottom floor wouldn’t hurt.  This method will allow for fresh air to pull through the house and flush out toxins.  The downside to this method is it will pull kitchen toxins through the house if you don’t have a hood vent.   

If you live in a newer home installing an HRV or ERV in your home’s mechanical system will bring in fresh outside air and retain the heat in an HRV and the heat and moisture in an ERV. These are also able to be installed in an existing HVAC system.  

Eliminating toxins at the source through proper outside venting is the best way to keep dangerous toxins out of the home. Having a contractor like install a range hood that vents outside or an exhaust fan in the kitchen or bathroom  or an HRV or ERV will yield the best for protecting your family’s health for years to come.  

We hope this article was helpful.  Please feel free to leave a comment or question.