Biological pollutants are present in all homes and have been linked to some types of illness and disease. However, many of these symptoms could be caused by something unrelated to your home’s indoor environment, so it can be difficult to determine whether the symptoms are related to bad indoor air quality. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
If you are answering yes to some or all of these questions, it is possible that biological pollutants are creating a poor indoor air environment in your home. Of course, it’s important to see a doctor when experiencing these symptoms but, don’t forget to tell your physician this information as it will help them to make an accurate diagnosis.
If you have just had a wood burner installed in your home or moved into a home with one, it is good to know the best way to take care of it so that you can get the most out of it for many years. With that in mind, here are a few basic tips on how to keep your wood-burning stove well maintained:
A wood-burning stove should be inspected regularly to ensure it is working safely and to check for any creosote build-up which tends to accumulate in the stovepipe. You should also ensure you have the required amount of smoke detectors for your home and check them each month.
Wood burners are intended to burn wood (as the name suggests) so it is unwise to burn other fuel like coal as it burns much hotter than wood does and so presents a safety hazard. It is also unwise to burn some types of wood like particleboard, plywood, or pressure-treated or painted wood as these release toxic fumes and are unsafe. Do not place plastic, gift wrap, or colored paper in your wood burner for the same reasons.
Some types of wood are better for burning in a wood burner than others, for example, dry wood is much better than freshly cut wood because it has much lower water content and burns hotter. You may also want to use a softwood such as pine to start the fire as it ignites faster, then you can switch to hardwood like ash or hickory which will burn hotter and cleaner. Cutting the logs into smaller pieces will also help.
Lastly, use a metal container filled with water to safely dispose of the ashes from your wood-burning stove. These basic tips will help you to get the most from your wood-burning stove.
Water, while essential to life, can have a very damaging effect on a structure. Water damage in a home can result in many issues like poor indoor air quality and higher repair costs, it may even lower a property's value. In this month’s blog, we are going to talk about some of the most common causes of water damage in a home, starting with the roof.
A roof must have proper drainage and adequate slope to prevent water intrusion. Check that gutters and downspouts are not clogged and are draining away from the house. Flashings on the roof can also start to leak so this is another area to keep well maintained.
The possibility of experiencing water damage from the home's plumbing system is, by nature, rather high so, again, a good schedule of maintenance is important. Check that there are no dripping pipes, leaking plumbing fixtures, or clogged drains.
Buildings walls and foundations will naturally start to develop cracks and holes. To avoid moisture intrusion, make sure you seal these up as soon as you see them.
If humidity levels are high in a building you could see a variety of moisture-related problems such as musty smelling odors, bad indoor air quality, and water stains on walls and ceilings. Moisture that collects on any surface, including windows should be cleaned and dried off.
We have only mentioned a sampling of the areas in a building where water damage can occur. The main way to stop the damage, however, is to act fast to fix the problem when you one and have a good maintenance routine.
Renovating your home can completely transform it, making it a comfortable and beautiful space to live in. In this month’s blog, however, we are going to talk about renovating a property in order to sell it. Firstly, you should ask yourself if a renovation is worth the money and effort. Very often, the money you spend renovating the property does not increase its value that much so this is something you should think about before doing the work.
If you decide to go ahead with the work there are some things you should keep in mind. For example, when choosing new appliances, fittings, and fixtures, etc. do not just base your decisions on your personal taste. While you may like big, bold statements, this does not necessarily appeal to a large market so try to go with a more neutral palette.
Think about the neighborhood you live in when deciding what improvements to make to the home. Your homes value is largely dependent on its location, so it doesn’t always make financial sense to spend a lot of money on an expensive renovation.
Some homeowners may feel that adding a swimming pool on their property will increase its value and appeal. Be aware, though, that just as many people are put off by a backyard pool as they are attracted to one. This is because swimming pools require a lot of extra maintenance and families with small children may worry about the hazards associated with them.
So, if you want to increase the value of your home with a renovation, make wise decisions based on your location and what currently appeals to a potential buyer.
Traditional toilets use up a lot of water which may make a homeowner look for an option that is a little more friendly to the environment. One alternative that is becoming more popular these days is a pressure-assist toilet. How is it different from a standard type of toilet?
From the outside, you may not notice much difference between a pressure-assist toilet and a traditional kind. When you look inside the ceramic tank, however, they are very different. The pressure assist toilet has an air-filled pressure container that forces compressed air to push water into the toilet bowl when it is flushed at a very powerful rate. This results in far fewer clogs in the system, due to the power of the flush. It also uses a lot less water than a standard gravity toilet does, making it less harsh environmentally.
Can pressure-assist toilets be installed in older homes? Although they are often used in new construction, pressure-assist toilets can also be installed in older homes and there are some benefits to doing so. For example, due to the age of the pipework waste often becomes trapped in the system and a gravity toilet alone cannot unclog it. The force of the flush in a pressure-assist toilet helps push the waste through a lot easier, preventing clogs. The tank's design also means that condensation does not build up.
Are there any disadvantages with a pressure-assist toilet? Although these types of toilets require less maintenance than a standard type, they do cost more. Many people are also put off by how loud the flush is. Another problem is that to work well, pressure-assist toilets need at least 20 to 30 PSI of pressure which may be an issue in homes that have low water pressure.
Mold is a big problem in many homes and apartments so it’s good to be aware of ways to quickly deal with it and prevent it from spreading. One area that mold can become a real health concern is if it is found in carpeting.
As we have often discussed, mold will flourish in warm, humid conditions. A carpet has the ability to provide the perfect environment for mold to grow and spread, especially if it is installed in rooms of the home which often see a higher level of humidity such as bathrooms and basements. In rooms like this, it may be better to avoid carpet altogether and select a different flooring type.
Another preventative step is to select quality carpeting and under carpet padding. If available, choose padding that contains antimicrobial elements to it.
We know that liquid spills are very common in every household. However, if some type of liquid or water is spilled on a carpet it's important to clear it up immediately, otherwise, this may provide the ideal conditions needed for mold to grow. If it is a big spill, you will also want to make sure that the under-carpet padding and the floor underneath is cleaned well and completely dried out. If you have your carpets cleaned periodically you should also ensure that all layers of flooring are completely dried. If you can, try a dry-cleaning method instead.
Carpeting can make a house feel warm and cozy but take care to maintain it well to prevent mold from becoming a problem in your home.
A burglar will look for a home that they can break into easily and without being seen so if you want to deter a would-be intruder you need to make it as difficult as possible for them. How can you do this?
One way is by designing your properties landscaping in such a way that an intruder would not enter your home unnoticed. For example, you would want to keep the windows and entrance of the home clear of trees or shrubs as they could provide a good cover for someone attempting to break in without being seen. Putting fencing around the property can be a way to discourage a burglar but it's important that it won't also act as a shield to hide behind.
Another easy entry point for a burglar is sliding glass doors. Secure them by fitting locks to both the top and bottom of the doors. You can also place a piece of wood such as a cut off broom handle in the tracks of the door which will stop the ability to open them.
The home's outer doors should be solid and fitted with a quality deadbolt. Windows also must have strong glass and sturdy construction. Both doors and windows should be in good condition and not showing signs of deterioration. If you are looking for additional window security you may want to install window bars or heavy-duty wire screens. Make sure, however, that the occupants of the home could easily exit the windows in an emergency.
Motion censored lighting is another effective deterrent for burglars. Place them on every side of the house. If you plan to be away for a time leave a few lights on in the house to give the impression that you are home.
None of us love the idea that there are thousands of tiny creatures living with us in our homes, but the fact is that dust mites are found in practically every house. Were you aware that dust mites can be so abundant that as many as 100,000 dust mites could be found in just one square yard of carpet? While this fact might make us cringe a little, the truth is that dust mites are not usually considered to be a big issue. For some people, however, dust mites do trigger allergies so, what can these allergy sufferers do to lessen their numbers?
Before trying any of the numerous detergents out there that claim to protect you from dust mites, you might want to try some non-chemical methods first. Many of the chemical detergents available today are not always as effective as they claim to be but, the following methods have been found to reduce dust mite numbers in the home.
Dust mites love to live in a warm and humid environment so if you want to lower their numbers, try to look for ways to reduce humidity levels. Air conditioners and electric blankets are known to be effective.
Bedding is one area where dust mites thrive. To get rid of them its best to wash your linens in hot water at a minimum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can place your bedding in a dryer for 10 minutes on a high temperature which will also kill them.
Dust your home before vacuuming it. Use a damp cloth for dusting as this will help to avoid the redistribution of dust onto another surface. If you can, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter which will help to stop dust going back into the air. As well as vacuuming floors and carpeting, be sure to include any other soft furnishings and textiles.
Homes, where allergy sufferers live, may find an air purifier beneficial. When shopping for air purifiers make sure you choose one with a HEPA filter. It should also be noted that while air purifiers help lower dust mite numbers, they will not get rid of them altogether since dust mites are not generally airborne.
A gym is a place that we generally associate with health and fitness, but sadly if a high standard of hygiene is not observed and maintained, it can quickly become one of the unhealthiest environments to be in. Although we now see a heightened observance of hygiene rules and regulations, what are some extra things you can do to stay safe while working out?
Even before the current virus outbreak there was a need for caution at the gym, this is because, in general, gyms generate a warm, high humidity environment, often in a space with little natural lighting. All of this creates an ideal location for bacteria to thrive. Did you know that one study found more bacteria on work out equipment than that usually found on a toilet seat? Of course, this is not the case in every gym, but it does highlight the need to take extra precautions.
We all know the importance of regularly washing our hands. Be sure to wash your hands both before and immediately after using gym equipment and avoid touching any part of your face.
It can also be a good idea to bring your own towels to the gym which should ensure that the only germs found on them are your own. Bring more than one towel with you so that you can wipe equipment down with one and have a different one for yourself.
Always wear some type of footwear, even in areas such as changing rooms, showers, and saunas, etc. Gym floors are places where many communicable health conditions are transmitted so be extra vigilant.
Yes, it's important to take every precaution while at the gym to ensure, not just your own health, but the health of those around you.
Strategically placed lighting can make any space in a home warm and inviting. To do this, perhaps you automatically think of using electrical lighting, but, is it possible to incorporate daylight to brighten up the space? Because this is a method that uses natural light to brighten up a space, it also saves on energy costs. What are some of the methods used for incorporating daylighting in a home?
There are several ways that daylighting can be used to illuminate a dark area. One of the more commonly known methods is with the use of skylights. These can add a great deal of light to a dark space, just remember that if you do decide to install them, choose double-paned windows, and make sure the flashing is done properly.
Another method of incorporating natural light into a home is with light tubes. These tubes are coated with a highly reflective material designed to channel sunlight through them. They also have a lens that amplifies low-level light and reduces the sunlight’s intensity at midday. As daylight enters the home's interior space, it does so through a diffuser that evenly distributes this light.
Clerestory windows are yet another way to use natural light to your advantage. Positioned high on a wall, these short but wide windows allow sunlight to pour into a room during winter months, increasing light and heat but, at the same time, the roof overhang prevents too much sun during the summer.
If you are having a house built or renovating your present property, why not think about incorporating daylighting into the design and increase the home's energy efficiency at the same time?
PARKER AND WEST ENGINEERING, PLLC.