When you buy a new home, whether it’s fresh construction or just new to you, indoor air quality, or IAQ, probably ranks at the top of your priorities. This is especially true if you or a member of your family suffers from allergies or asthma. Poor IAQ can reduce your comfort, cause asthma or allergy attacks, and pose health risks for your family. Review these 10 IAQ considerations when you buy a new home in Columbia, Maryland.
HVAC System Age
An older HVAC system can present several problems. Units built before the last 10 years or so might offer reduced efficiency and contribute to poor IAQ. If you’re buying an older home, consider replacing the HVAC system before you move in. That way, you can trust your home to provide clean, conditioned air that won’t put your family at risk.
We’re happy to look at your HVAC system, estimate its age, and recommend repairs or replacement. Our technicians know how to test HVAC systems; plus, they understand how HVAC age can impact IAQ. Before or after you move into your new home, we can schedule a consultation to discuss your options.
When dust, pet dander, and other contaminants collect in the ductwork, those irritants can spread throughout your house as the HVAC system cuts on and off. When you buy a pre-loved home, you don’t know how the former inhabitants lived. Consequently, you could expose yourself to contaminants that might put you at risk. Before you move in, let us take a look at the home.
If you’re concerned about ductwork, consider installing a ductless system. This option offers many benefits if you’re installing an HVAC system in new construction or if you want to completely replace the existing system. Since ductless units don’t rely on ductwork, you can vastly improve IAQ in your home.
A dirty fireplace can release unpleasant odors and cause respiratory issues. Some people use their fireplaces more often than others, so check yours before you move into a new home. You might need to hire a professional for fireplace cleaning or conduct some maintenance, such as sealing the mortar or installing a new flue when the old one has cracks.
Creosote, a byproduct of burning wood, gets released into the air when you use your fireplace. It also gets lodged in the chimney and releases gases that can trigger asthma or allergy symptoms. A chimney sweep can remove creosote and leave your home much healthier.
Door and Window Quality
High-quality windows and doors don’t just seal in air for better energy efficiency. They also keep pollen, mold spores, and other contaminants out of your home. The tiniest gap between a window and its casing, for instance, can cause an IAQ issue and put your family at risk.
If you’re building a home, ask for the best quality windows and doors during the construction process. Alternatively, if you’re buying a home that someone else has owned, inspect the doors and windows for cracks. Double-paned windows offer better energy efficiency than their single-paned counterparts. They’re also sturdier and more likely to help keep IAQ high.
Strong doors and windows offer increased safety, as well. For instance, a burglar can kick down a hollow-core exterior door in just one shot, and thin windows prove easy to breach, as well. Installing better doors and windows will make an excellent investment in your safety, security, and health.
Type of Flooring
Some flooring materials, such as carpet, trap dust, pet dander, and other irritants. No matter how often you vacuum, those contaminants can stick to the carpet fibers and reduce your home’s IAQ. Additionally, they attract dust mites, which can cause allergy symptoms in some people.
Hard floors might not sound comfortable, but they’re highly effective when you want to maintain high IAQ. Consider hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile, or vinyl floors for your new home. Fortunately, carpet is easy to rip out, and you can finish the job before you move in your furniture, which might prove much easier than working around your furnishings and decor.
Of course, all floors can attract dust and contaminants. Consider adding a welcome mat outside your front and back doors to encourage guests to wipe their feet. Additionally, vacuum and mop your floors at least once a week to keep irritants at bay. Twice a month or so, move all the furniture so you can clean underneath it.
Air Purification Systems
Many homeowners like to protect themselves with IAQ add-ons, which help fight contaminants that might cause allergy or asthma symptoms. Air purifiers offer one of the most convenient and effective options. Each model uses its own technology, but most employ UV light to neutralize unhealthy particles in the air. Air purifiers can target dust, mold, mildew, viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants.
In addition to protecting your family against asthma and allergy symptoms, air purifiers can also prevent you from catching common winter illnesses, such as the flu or the common cold, by zapping pathogens. Air purifiers prove effective at dispelling unpleasant odors, as well, so you can breathe easily in your own home.
You might also consider installing a humidifier. During the winter, humidity levels drop, and you might experience dry skin, a sore throat, irritated nasal passages, and even nose bleeds. Whole-home humidifiers monitor humidity levels in the air and release steam when levels drop too low. You don’t have to clean or monitor them like you would a portable humidifier, so they’re easier to manage and far more effective.
We can install a whole-home humidifier to complete your HVAC system. The project only takes a few hours, and you won’t have to worry about dry skin and other symptoms this winter.
If you’re in the home-shopping stage, pay careful attention to the neighborhood in addition to the house itself. If you’re located near chemical, manufacturing, or industrial facilities, you might face more IAQ concerns. Contaminants can drift from nearby businesses and infiltrate your home, especially if you don’t have a sealed, reliable building envelope.
Living near a busy road can also cause IAQ issues. Exhaust from passing vehicles might drift into your home, especially if the road is a freeway or highway. You might ask neighbors about any unpleasant odors they might have detected while living in their homes. This brief process can alert you to problems that you might want to avoid when buying a new home.
Dust collectors can prove particularly harmful when it comes to IAQ. Maybe you’re careful about keeping knickknacks and decor to a minimum, but certain architectural details can increase dust accumulation and harm IAQ. Open shelving, for instance, serves as a dust magnet, especially after you fill them with books, souvenirs, figurines, and other decor.
If your home features open shelving, you can minimize dust by retrofitting them with glass or plexiglass covers. Take the DIY approach or hire a professional to create glass doors so you can keep dust out. Not only will your IAQ improve, but you’ll also have less housework once you move in. Plus, you can still see your treasures on the other side of the glass, so you won’t give up any aesthetic benefits.
Proper ventilation allows your home to expel unwanted fumes and air. We can inspect your home to make sure you have adequate ventilation. If we find problems, we’ll recommend cost-effective solutions so your IAQ doesn’t suffer. Contractors sometimes even cut corners on new construction, so we recommend an inspection regardless of the house’s age.
Nobody wants to live in a home with poor IAQ. You don’t want to feel like you have a cold even when you’re perfectly healthy, and you certainly don’t want to hear your kids or spouse sneeze and cough their way through every day. That’s why we offer IAQ services for families, and we hope you’ll take advantage of them even if you’re buying a new home. Just call Griffith Energy Services at 888-474-3391 to schedule a consultation. We’ll let you know how we can improve your IAQ and protect your family.
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