6/3/2015

Indoor Air Quality Considerations for Remodeling

When remodeling a home, it is important to consider indoor air quality and take steps to mitigate factors that may negatively impact the quality of the air. Contaminants, uncontrolled moisture levels, poor ventilation, and air leaks can all contribute to poor air quality. Poor air quality can cause harm to occupants’ health and cause the home materials to deteriorate. Unfortunately, some of these factors may be introduced or worsened during the remodeling process if not considered.

Energy Efficiency and Air Quality

With recent societal shifts inspiring many homeowners to make changes to attain greener and more sustainable homes, homeowners around the globe are updating older homes to make them more energy efficient. Unfortunately, improving energy efficiency by tightening a building envelope can actually worsen air quality. While air leaks in the home may have weakened energy efficiency before, they also provided natural ventilation. To correct this issue, mechanical ventilation is needed.

Installing Mechanical Ventilation

Mechanical ventilation can diffuse harmful pollutants and VOCs and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. While exhaust fans can provide some ventilation, a high powered ventilation system will ensure greater protection for a home and a home’s occupants.

ERVs and HRVs can provide homeowners with a ventilation solution that is high quality and energy efficient. By recycling heat or energy from outgoing air and using it to condition or heat incoming air, HRVs and ERVs maximize energy efficiency, provide superior ventilation, and minimize the need for additional mechanical heating or cooling.

Identifying and Minimizing Air Contaminants

A number of air contaminants such as lead paint, asbestos, and radon may have been present before the remodeling process began. Professionals can help to detect and remove toxic materials from the home during the remodel process. Sealing and cleaning air ducts and eliminating pest issues may also be easier during the remodel process, and addressing these issues will help to improve air quality after the remodel is done. Air cleaners may be installed during the remodel process to further improve air quality.

Minimizing Contaminants Introduced During Remodel

During the remodel, it is possible to introduce VOCs into the home when painting, putting up drywall, cleaning, installing new furnishings, or remodeling cabinetry. The chemicals and materials used may emit pollutants into the air, some on a continual basis. Checking for VOC emission certifications when selecting materials and products for the home will help to ensure better indoor air quality. Many companies now take pride in offering products with low VOC emissions.

Controlling Moisture Levels

Moisture levels in the home can cause health issues for homeowners, even if all other air quality issues have been addressed. Air that is too humid can increase bacteria and mold growth, while air that is not humid enough can aggravate the respiratory systems of occupants.

It is important to spot and stop water leaks and minimize the amount of condensation buildup in areas such as the kitchen and bathrooms using smart home design techniques. A high-quality humidifier or dehumidifier should be installed as needed in homes, depending on the local climate, for best moisture control.