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Indoor Air Quality and Humidity

Updated on October 9, 2014

Is Your House Making You Sick

Created by JPat1616

We all want our homes to be cozy, hence the name of this magazine. But too many modern or new homes and even many older homes with modern renovations have become a little too cozy.

What do I mean you might be asking? In our never ending quest to make our homes more comfortable and energy efficient it seems that in many cases we have overlooked 2 of the 3 key components in creating both a cozy and a safe home to live in.

Have I peeked your curiosity? What are you saying here, my home might not be safe to live in? As a matter of fact more home occupants than ever imagined are dealing with symptoms of what is known as Sick Building Syndrome. So what is sick building syndrome and how would I find out if it could be affecting the people in my home?

Read on...

Photo credit Flickr

Sick Building Syndrome and its Symptoms

The most common causes of Sick Building Syndrome stem from inadequate ventilation that we are seeing in many new homes as a result of building a tighter home. Now you might be asking the question; "Aren't we supposed to be building tighter more energy efficient homes?" The answer is yes by all means, the problem is that in our quest to build tighter better insulated homes, most people have overlooked the side effects of poorer air quality. Then when you add to this the often overlooked other important issue of humidity control you are creating a breeding ground for disaster.

The problems occur most often in the colder winter months when we are keeping the house closed up in an effort to conserve heat. During the summer months most people will open windows or doors more often to create a natural exchange of indoor air but this does not happen during the winter months.

Many people call it the cold and flu season but in reality the problems appear more often during the winter because the allergens like pet dander as well as mold spores, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) , outgassing of certain building materials, and air born viruses get trapped in this tighter home and we are stuck breathing them in.

One major thing we have learned is that the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has just recently revised their ventilation standards to read that you need to create a minimum of 15 cfm(cubic feet per minute) of air exchange between inside air and outside air per person over a continuous time to maintain good indoor air quality.

So let's look at this detail in simple terms. An average bathroom exhaust fan is rated at 50 cfm, so a household of 3 people would need the equivalent of one of these fans running all the time but not just exhausting air, this fan needs to be bringing in outside air. So how do we do this you are probably asking?

The best way is with the use of an air to air exchanger. An air exchanger will keep a balanced air pressure in the home by exhausting as much air as it brings in fresh air but with one big bonus over a fan. This unit extracts the heat from your indoor air and preheats the outside air as it comes in helping conserve on your heat bill while giving your home cleaner safer air to breath.

While it is unfortunate that this problem usually surfaces after a home is constructed it might be comforting to know that most remedies for the problems have been designed to be installed after a person is living in the home.

As we continue here we will discuss 5 more topics:

How you can test your home for concerns

More on Air to Air exchangers

HEPA Air Filtration Systems

Ozone Filtration systems

Humidity Monitoring Options and Equipment

Are Indoor Air Quality Issues a Problem In Your Home

Does anyone in your household suffer from alergies or seasonal illness?

See results

Indoor Air Quality Test Kits

The first step in determining if you have a problem

If one or more persons in your home deals with occasional allergies or cold and flu symptoms each winter season then we recommend using one of these simple DIY air quality test kits to find out if unseen contaminates in your home could be the cause of these ongoing problems.

Building Health Check Mold Screen Check
Building Health Check Mold Screen Check

This mold screening check (MSC) kit helps to identify 100's of types of Molds (cts/m2). This mold screening kit is capable of collecting a number of different types of mold from various surface.

It is both quick and easy, includes sample collection device and AIHA accredited lab analysis for molds. With a mold fact sheet, the same samples used by professionals.

Home Air Check Indoor Air Quality Test for Sick Homes: VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), Mold, & Formaldehyde Qty. of 1
Home Air Check Indoor Air Quality Test for Sick Homes: VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), Mold, & Formaldehyde Qty. of 1

Home Air Check is the same quality test used by professionals, and is now available in an affordable do-it-yourself home kit. Each Home Air Check

Test Kit covers a 2,000 sq. ft. area and contains a small sampling pump, and one or more sampling tubes that attach to the pump to collect the air sample. Once you have collected your air sample, you simply mail the pump and sample tubes back to us with the box and return label provided and we will analyze your sample.

In 5 business days you'll receive an email with your results, telling you what we found and what you can do about it.

Home Air Check Indoor Air Quality Test for Sick Homes: VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and Hidden Mold Qty. of 1
Home Air Check Indoor Air Quality Test for Sick Homes: VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and Hidden Mold Qty. of 1

Indoor air quality test measures 400+ different VOCs and checks for hidden, actively growing mold

Predicts sources of VOCs being emitted

Gives information on what in your home could be making you sick

Provides suggestions on how to improve your air quality

Easy-to-use test kit; AIHA-accredited laboratory analysis


Residential Air Exchanger Units

Fresh Outside Air Is Best

Once you have determined that there is reason for concern in your home or at the very least that you realize it is easy to improve the air quality in your home then we encourage you to look into one of these air to air exchangers.

The simple fact is the best way to eliminate air quality problems is with fresh oxygen rich air.

Panasonic FV-04VE1 WhisperComfort™ Spot ERV Ceiling Insert Ventilator with Balanced Ventilation and Patent-Pending Capillary Core
Panasonic FV-04VE1 WhisperComfort™ Spot ERV Ceiling Insert Ventilator with Balanced Ventilation and Patent-Pending Capillary Core

Panasonic WhisperComfort Spot Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) offers a revolutionary way to provide balanced ventilation with a ceiling insert ERV.

Affordable and easy to install WhisperComfort is energy efficient and provides fresh ventilated air while maintaining indoor air quality.


Indoor Air Purifiers with HEPA Filtering

Indoor Air Purification Is Key

Let's assume that you have determined that an air exchanger is more work to install than you would like to take on, what is your next best option?

This next option is the most common one in use today. If we can't bring fresh air into the home then the next best solution is to thoroughly filter the existing air so it is clean to breath. Sounds simple and it is however the right sized piece of equipment for the job will make all the difference.

Honeywell HHT-011 HEPA Clean Compact Air Purifier, 85 sq. ft.
Honeywell HHT-011 HEPA Clean Compact Air Purifier, 85 sq. ft.

The HEPAClean Compact Air Purifier offers low maintenance, effective air cleaning with a permanent HEPA-Type filter.

The 3-stage filtration system first helps clean the air by using a washable pre-filter to capture large airborne particles. It then passes through the permanent HEPA-Type filter, capturing up to 95% of microscopic particles such as mold, spores, pollen, pet dander, smoke, and dust.

The filtered air then enters an ionizer field providing extra cleaning and air freshening.

Honeywell 50250-S True HEPA Air Purifier, 390 sq. ft.
Honeywell 50250-S True HEPA Air Purifier, 390 sq. ft.

The 50250S True HEPA Allergen Remover air purifier removes at least 99.97 percent of common household particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air passing through it such as dust, pollen, mold spores, tobacco smoke, and pet dander.

The carbon activated pre filter helps remove common household odors while helping to extend the life of the HEPA filter. The patented 360 degree air intake and discharge maximizes efficiency, circulating the air and allowing for placement in any area of your room.

This air purifier also features the Intelli Check filter monitor to remind you when to replace the filter.

Whirlpool Whispure Air Purifier, HEPA Air Cleaner, AP51030K
Whirlpool Whispure Air Purifier, HEPA Air Cleaner, AP51030K

The Whirlpool AP51030K features a three-stage filtration system comprised of a pre-filter, carbon filter, and true HEPA filter. The air purifier's outside grill acts as a permanent pre-filter by capturing large particles and preventing them from entering the unit.

Large particles that find their way inside the unit are promptly caught by the carbon filter, which also works to eliminate unwanted odors and protect the life of the HEPA filter. At the heart of the Whirlpool Whispure 510 is true HEPA filtration. HEPA filters provide maximum filtration of your room's air by removing up to 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns and larger.

These particles include pet dander, dust mites, pollen, ragweed, mold spores, and other microscopic irritants that can damage your indoor air quality and aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.

Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology
Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave Technology

Suitable for a living room or large bedroom the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet Air Cleaner with PlasmaWave features a 5-Stage cleaning process to capture pet odors, hair and all of the unseen particles suspended in the air to provide deliver a clean, fresh environment. 99.99% efficient True-HEPA Filtration;

Advanced Odor Control Washable Activated Carbon filter; Nano Silver treatment; PlasmaWave Technology and Smart Sensor Technology combine to offer superior control of Household/Pet Odors, Pollutants and Allergens. Certified Clean Air Delivery Rate of 284 sq. ft.

Fellowes Quiet Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter (AP-300PH)
Fellowes Quiet Air Purifier with True HEPA Filter (AP-300PH)

Improve the air quality inside your home or office with the Fellowes AP-300PH Air Purifier. Equipped with a True HEPA filter that safely removes the smallest dust and other particles, it also features PlasmaTrue technology for effectively neutralizing harmful germs, viruses, and bacteria.

A carbon filter helps safely remove larger airborne particles and odors while a Sanitizing technology prevents the buildup of bacteria on the filter fabric.


Concerned About Colds and the Flu Then Read About Ozone Filters

The Most Common Winter Illness Problems

Then you need to focus on taking your air purification efforts one step further with an ozone filter.

An ozone filter uses UV rays to kill bacteria and viruses as well as HEPA filtering for all impurities down to as small as 0.2 microns.

Green Air Classic Air Purifier Ozone Generator
Green Air Classic Air Purifier Ozone Generator

Working in conjunction with its carbon washable filter system, our air purifier pulls in unclean air from the rear, first passing through the carbon filter which removes airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns.

This filter also acts to deodorize any unpleasant odors. Air then passes through the inner PCO cell, further filtering airborne contaminants as small as 0.2 microns.

The anion emitters, now moved forward of the fan to the front panel, release trillions of negative ions into your home, attaching themselves to dust particles, and dropping them straight to the floor.

This advanced function is ideal for eliminating dust, bacteria, animal dander, and other harmful particles that float in the air. Left behind is fresh oxygen rich air, perfect for those suffering from allergies, asthma, and respiratory problems.

The sterilizer function turns on the units blue UV-C lamp to incinerate ninety nine percent of microorganisms like bacteria, mold spores, mildew, fungi, viruses, yeast, and airborne germs as they pass through the unit.

GermGuardian AC5000 28” 3-in-1 Large Room Air Purifier, HEPA Filter, UVC Sanitizer, Home Air Cleaner Traps Allergens for Smoke, Odors, Mold, Dust, Germs, Pet Dander, 5 Yr Warranty Germ Guardian
GermGuardian AC5000 28” 3-in-1 Large Room Air Purifier, HEPA Filter, UVC Sanitizer, Home Air Cleaner Traps Allergens for Smoke, Odors, Mold, Dust, Germs, Pet Dander, 5 Yr Warranty Germ Guardian

The UV-C and True HEPA Air Cleansing System is a complete system that provides multiple levels of cleaning including both True HEPA and UV-C light technology to enhance germ killing.

The levels of cleaning of the UV-C Tower Air purifier include: Charcoal filter; which removes odors and smoke particles, True HEPA; captures 99.99% of airborne particles such as dust mites, debris, mold spores, pollens and pet dander, PCO filter; which captures and dissolves airborne bacteria, molds, fungi and volatile organic compounds while the UV-C light bulb sanitizes and kills germs that can cause cold and flu.


Track Humidity To Help Control Mold Spores

Too Much Moisture or Too Little Moisture Are Both Problems

So how do you monitor your homes humidity? That is the simplest task of all with these humidity monitors. There is even a unit that can tell if conditions in your home are prime for active mold growth.

Once you know with these monitors if your moisture levels are too high or low then you can take appropriate action to lower or raise the humidity levels in your home with some form of De-humidification or humidifier.

AcuRite 00613 Humidity Monitor with Indoor Thermometer, Digital Hygrometer and Humidity Gauge Indicator
AcuRite 00613 Humidity Monitor with Indoor Thermometer, Digital Hygrometer and Humidity Gauge Indicator

Check comfort conditions in the house at a glance with this combination thermometer and humidity gauge from Chaney.

Designed for indoor use, the unit features a large, easy-to-read display with numerical readouts as well as a simple house-shaped icon that reflects humidity comfort levels.

The display also tracks daily highs and lows for both temp and humidity.

P3 P0270 Mold Alert Electronic Thermo-Hygrometer
P3 P0270 Mold Alert Electronic Thermo-Hygrometer

Mold alert thermo-hygrometer gives accurate mold measurements when checking a room's ambient condition.


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