Your new year’s resolution – Improving the air quality within your home

Everyone wants to live a healthy happy life. But what if the air you are breathing inside your home could be harming you and your family in various ways. Nothing in this world is more important than the air you breathe, so you should make it your new year’s resolution for 2018 to improve the air quality in your home. Here are some tips to help with your planning.

What’s your indoor air quality like?

Not many of us stop to think about the pollution INSIDE our homes – the air that is circulating within our home on a daily basis . We all know that traffic and industry cause pollution in the air outside, but what is happening inside? Air in a poorly ventilated home can be just as polluted if not more than the air outside. When indoor air quality is poor, it is simply not as clean, fresh and pure as it should be.

What are the main causes of poor indoor air quality?

The air quality inside a building is affected by various factors. Pollution from the outdoors coming in through windows and doors is one factor, especially in cities and densely populated areas. Though other factors that affect our indoor air quality are:

  • Gases are given off by heating and cooking appliances
  • Volatile organic compounds from cleaning products, paints and plastics
  • Smoke and other airborne particulates
  • Allergens such as mould and dust all contribute to bad indoor air quality
  • Radon gases from underground can also penetrate into your home and reduce air quality if you live in an area where these naturally occurring gases are more highly concentrated
  • Bad indoor air quality will be worsened in a situation where there is little or no natural air flow within the home, which can lead to condensation build up, damp and mould.

What problems can poor indoor air quality cause in your home?

As time goes by lack of airflow and poor quality air can begin to damage the structure of your home and its fittings and fixtures. If stagnant air sits around your home for too long, you will come across all sorts of problems. Condensation can form in bathrooms and kitchens and can create damp problems. Mould, which is a serious allergen, will grow and flourish. Even in houses that do not suffer from damp, bad air quality can still cause issues. Carpets, wallpaper, curtains and soft furnishings can all become permeated with nasty, musty smells that can be hard to remove. Eventually poor air quality can damage the interior of your home and change the way it looks and smells long term. If you do find you have a mould problem our sister company Mould Pro would be happy to help you out.

How is poor indoor air quality damaging our health?

Poor indoor air quality can cause chronic health problems. The lungs and heart are the main organs affected. Scientific studies have shown the link between bad indoor air pollution and health issues. Cooking can emit nitrogen dioxide which can cause a range of breathing issues. Whilst VOCs can cause a decrease in lung function setting off asthma, wheezing and an increased risk to your heart and whole respiratory system. Nasal irritation is very common as well as dry mouth, a constricted throat and scratchy sore eyes.

How to improve the air quality in your home

The good news is it is easy to improve on the air quality within your home. The most simplest way is to improve on your home ventilation and improving air flow rates in your house, as this will improve air quality as a start. Sophisticated technology in ventilation systems will constantly monitor the humidity levels and flow rates of the air in your home, so the system always works efficiently and effectively. Heat Recovery ventilation solutions will not only help you improve indoor air quality but also help you save money on electricity. Here at Zephyr Ventilation we can advise you on the right type of ventilation system needed for your home.

A good ventilation system is the first step towards better air quality. You can then further enhance your living space and improve air quality further by taking the following measures:

  • Introduce living plants which are natural air purifiers
  • Remove carpets and have natural, hard flooring instead
  • Use only natural household cleaning products
  • Use paints and other decorating materials that are low in VOCs
  • Reduce the amount of plastic and the number of new items coming into your home
  • Live a more sustainable and natural way of life.

You can now plan some positive steps to improve the air quality in your home – make a new year’s resolution to breathe easier and enjoy the benefits of cleaner, fresher air and a healthier home for you and your family.

How to identify and prevent mould in your home

Mould is a frequent household issue. Condensation can arise from water leaks, moisture in the air and poor ventilation. Showering, cleaning, cooking and even fish tanks can contribute to moisture in the air, which then cause a buildup of condensation and then finally mould.

When mould grows in your home it releases spores within the air where we can easily breathe them in. Mould can cause nasty allergies and even respiratory problems. So we advise that you keep a lookout for any potential mould causing problems and keep your home well ventilated. Prevention is better than cure, as once mould starts to grow it is a little more tricky to get rid of as it spreads and multiplies.

What kinds of mould are there?

There are various kinds of mould that grow in a real mix of colours such as green, black, white, orange and blue. Some kinds of mould are more toxic than others, and one particular type of mould can grow in an assortment of colours, depending on their environment. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify exactly what type of mould is growing in your home yourself. Sometimes it’s best to get in a professional to take a look and remedy the problem before it spreads and most importantly for the health of your family. The most common types of mould that grow in the home are the black and green varieties.

Green mould

Green mould typically belongs to the aspergillus, Cladosporium or Penicillium families, and can often be found growing on walls, in cupboards, carpets, rugs, couches and on damp fabrics and mattresses.

Penicillium can cause sinus infections and inflammation of the lungs, whereas other strains of green mould can cause bronchitis and even pneumonia.

Black Mould

Mould of all types can be harmful to our health and black moulds are the most frequent in the home and often come from the same strain as green mould. General black mould is easily treated without too much concern.

‘Toxic black mould’ or ‘stachybotrys’ is a different type of black mould which CAN have much more serious effects on your health. More on that below.

Toxic black mould

Stachybotrys, or toxic black mould, is harmful to the home because it produces mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are invisible to the human eye but can enter the human body through inhalation, ingestion and even through the eyes. These mycotoxins are very dangerous and can cause problems with the reproductive system, vision, skin, the circulatory and respiratory systems and can even have psychological and neurological effects.

If you are experiencing worrying symptoms and cannot identify the cause, it is important to check your house for signs of black mould.

How do I know if I have toxic black mould?

Toxic black mould and less harmful black mould look very similar, so sometimes it is best to get in a professional to diagnose the problem. Toxic black mould tends to be a greenish-black and is often slimy, however, it can also become dry and powdery over time.

It requires more moisture to grow than other strains of mould and is often found in and around particularly damp areas and is a particular problem in areas which have sprung leaks that are hidden from view, such as inside walls or in floors and ceilings. Bowed walls and peeling patches of paint are key things to look out for, as they are indicators of hidden dampness.

How can I treat toxic mould?

If you have a household issue with toxic mould, then you need to seek professional treatment in order to ensure that your home is a safe environment for you and your family. If you find a colony of toxic mould, it is very important that you do not disturb it. Touching or moving the mould can cause an enormous amount of harmful spores to be released into the air causing harmful effects to your family’s health.

Prevention by ventilation and other methods

Once you have had your mould treated, it is important to integrate some changes to the way your home is ventilated, in order to prevent further mould growth.
At Zephyr Ventilation, we have a variety of solutions that can help to keep your home well-ventilated and mould free.

In addition to ventilation and heat retention solutions, it is also vital to ensure that your home is well looked after in other ways, in order to prevent excess dampness in the air.
Always ensure that you dry wet areas immediately. Dry up any liquid spills and ensure you dry floors and walls after you have a bath or shower. If possible, dry wet clothes outside or in a dryer that is ventilated to the outside of your house, as the moisture from your clothes travels straight into the air.

Although indoor plants improve the air quality of your home, moist soil and leaves also provide the perfect breeding ground for mould. Make sure you clean and move your plants around regularly, while keeping them in a well ventilated area in order to prevent the build-up of mould.

Leaks within your home are often caused by broken gutters or downpipes. Ensure you have the exterior of your house inspected regularly, in order to prevent a simply cracked downpipe or piece of guttering from becoming a larger and more expensive problem.

Finally, it is important to let air circulate through your home. Keep internal doors open as much as possible and move the furniture away from walls. Open windows on dry days to let fresh air blow into your home, which will reduce moisture and therefore help to prevent mould.

If you do suspect you have a mould problem, check out our sister company for services and advice. Though we do always say prevention is better than cure, and often less expensive – so give us a call at Zephyr Ventilation to see how we can help with mould prevention in your home.