Save on the Energy Bill or Save on Your Health Bill?
New homes, schools, office buildings, and more are being built as airtight as possible in an effort to save on energy, and to be able to better control the indoor environment.
But if the indoor environment isn’t properly controlled, contaminants such as formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide (CO), and radon can build up and circulate throughout the house.
Hazardous Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can be one of the disadvantages of tight buildings. Poor IAQ can cause mild health effects such as headaches, rashes, eye, nose and throat irritation, lethargy, dizziness etc… However, if more harmful chemicals (CO and radon) get trapped, more severe health effects can occur – chest pains, vomiting, muscle weakness, lung cancer, and death.
Tight houses can produce negative pressures that can back draft combustion appliances such as furnaces, and water heaters. Because air is coming down the flue pipe, exhaust gases aren’t going up and out.
Mold can become another concern you have to keep your eye on.
If there were to be a humidity event, mold growth can occur very easily. There doesn’t need to be a flood, a big rainstorm or a water leak. A perfect environment for mold growth can be create by elevated humidity. Since moisture can accumulate easier within a tight building, mold will seize the opportunity. The HVAC can then disperse microscopic mold spores throughout the building causing an even bigger problem.
If new homes do not dry out prior to sealing them, mold can be growing from the very moment the building is completed.
Proper ventilation is the key to combat poor IAQ and mold. A tight house poses no threat if the HVAC is working correctly. Broken HVAC units, clogged filters, inoperative outdoor air dampers, heating/cooling coil control malfunctions, faulty humidification and dehumidification equipment, and more, can hinder proper ventilation or conditioned air. Proper ventilation and/or conditioned air in an airtight home is essential to IAQ.