Clean Out Dryer Vents
First, check your dryer vent from the outside. Make sure there is not lint built up in the dryer vent itself. If there is, you can easily clean this out with a tool or even a gloved hand. Second, if you’re comfortable cleaning the vent from the inside, do this as well. This is where most people like to hire a professional to come and clean the vent on the inside as well.
Either way you choose to do it, removing lint from the exhaust will prevent combustion gas from staying in your home, reduce moisture levels, improve your appliances life expectancy and efficiency and reduce your fire risk.
Check HVAC Venting
Carbon Monoxide is not able to be detected by the human nose or eyes. This gas can cause permanent damage to areas of your body that require high amounts of oxygen. This includes the heart, brain and neurological systems. As you breathe carbon monoxide, your body begins to replace the oxygen in your blood with the carbon monoxide.
In addition to having your actual appliances checked, you will also want to visually inspect your exhaust vents to ensure they are clear. You’ll also want to double check that the exhaust pipe is not near a window or air conditioning unit, which can then bring the gas back into the home.
If you can place a screen that allows air to penetrate, but will prevent animals from storing food inside is a great addition to your exhaust vents.
Clean Out Those Gutters (or add them!)
Many foundations are made of concrete, either poured or concrete blocks. Concrete can act as a sponge if water comes in contact with it and pull the water through to the other side. This also explains why foundation walls inside can have a lot of moisture on them in some climates.
If your home do has gutters, a few things you can check on regular basis are:
- Make sure gutters are clear from debris
- Make sure extensions on downspouts are attached and running 4-6 feet away from your foundation (downhill is best)
- Check extensions and elbows to ensure there are no blockages preventing water from draining out
Add Insulation to Foundation Walls
These are all contributing factors to the indoor air quality and can contribute to poor indoor air quality.
One way that you can both insulate the walls, prevent moisture from either rain or condensation is by adding foam insulation around the perimeter of the building. THis is often a job for a professional as there are quite a few technical details that need to be paid attention to during installation.
Once the insulation is installed, it will improve the energy efficiency of your home as well as reduce moisture levels inside. A win-win in my book.
Again, the lower the humidity levels are inside, the better the air quality is as well. You want to keep the humidity levels close to 35% – 40% for optimal indoor air quality. When water is routed away from the home, the foundation isn’t burdened with large amounts of moisture and water that eventually raise the humidity levels inside.
If you live in an area where there is a deep freeze or very cold winter, the water along the foundation ends up freezing and thawing, pushing the foundation wall and puting strain on it. Eventually, you may see cracking in the foundation wall, which allows any Radon gas in the soil to quickly and easily enter your home without a way to escape.
You can easily build up soil around your foundation and level off high areas so the water flows freely downhill, away from your home.
Take Care of Exterior Siding
Small holes and cracks can be repaired with an exterior silicone or epoxy to keep water away from the underlayment. If your home has a brick exterior, you’ll want to fill it in with mortar to prevent the bricks from becoming too strained. This can compromise the integrity of the bricks, causing more than just moisture issues.
By keeping your home air tight and sealed properly, you can prevent a plethora of problems that arise with poor indoor air quality. It should be noted, however, that if you’re home is very sealed and energy efficient, with no way for air to escape, you can also run into problems with poor indoor air quality. To combat this, you’ll want to make sure fresh air is getting into your home on a regular basis. You can do this through opening windows and running your HVAC fan or through installing an air to air exchange system.
Take Care of Window Wells
If your basement is below grade and you have window wells, you’ll also want to make sure those are clear from leaves and other yard debris. The moisture from these items can not only damage the window and window frame, but it can cause moisture on the inside of the house as well.
If you live in an area where there’s snow in the winter, you may want to consider getting a cover for the windows to prevent snow from sitting in the window well and melting in the spring.
Make Sure Your Garage is Airtight
If the firewall is not properly sealed between boards, there can be fumes from the car exhaust, chemicals and paints that travel in to the home. This is especially true if there is a bedroom above the garage.
You can visually inspect your garage to ensure there are no breaks in the firewall. This would be any holes that are not sealed around them, areas that have been damaged and areas that have not been properly taped with joint compound.
These are easy fixes and can usually be repaired by either the homeowner or a handyman.
Vacuum Window Screens
If anyone in your home suffers from allergies, you know that those spring and fall times can be the worst. These are also great times to vacuum off your window screens and clear away any debris, dust and dander that has accumulated. Make sure your vacuum is equipped with a HEPA filter. This will help keep allergens and other irritants out of your home.
Once these problematic particles enter your home, you’ll have to battle them in your HVAC ducts and systems, carpets and furniture. By keeping your screens cleaned, you can also help prevent these additional issues. This will in turn keep your home’s indoor air quality top notch.
Shake Out Your Welcome Mat (Or get one!)
If you think about the amount of places your shoes have traveled, you’ll also think about disgusting and germ-ridden floors and places. Wiping them off won’t take everything off your shoe, but it sure does help. Inside the door have a designated spot for shoes where guests can leave them before walking around the inside of your home. And then make sure to shake out your mat every now and then to get rid of dirt and grime.
Once inside your home, the bacteria, allergens and even pesticides can travel throughout your home from room to room. They can become airborne and travel through your HVAC system and land on furniture or pets. If you have small children who crawl around, you understand how tummy-turning this thought is. Babies and children have hand to mouth habits that mean just about everything ends up ingested.