Ventilation is the key to improving the air quality in your home and can provide direct benefits to your health as well as protecting the fabric of your home from damp and mould caused by condensation.
The average person spends more than 60% of their time in their own home, so if the air quality is poor due to the presence of pollutants such as smoke, allergens like pollen, and the mould spores that build up due to high levels of humidity, their health can be affected.
Proper ventilation controls the way air flows in and out of your home. Whether you use a simple extractor fan to remove moisture from bathrooms or kitchens and prevent condensation building up or have a more complex whole house ventilation system that brings in fresh air from outside to maintain a comfortable, health environment, good air flow will always lead to good air quality.
Improving your home air quality starts with reducing the presence of pollutants and bringing in more fresh air. Here are 10 tips to improve the air quality in your home.
Almost 3 out of 5 homes have suffered condensation in one form or another.
Condensation is most often seen during the winter months when humid air comes into contact with cold surfaces such as windows and exterior walls. During colder periods, people will leave windows closed more often, and this lets moisture levels build up to higher levels as the moisture laden air is trapped inside the home.
High levels of moisture in the air tend to become a problem overnight when the heating is turned off – this is why you will often wake up to streaming windows on cold winter mornings.
Preventing condensation is tricky – many of our daily activities including cooking, bathing, and even breathing release water vapour into the air. In fact, a typical household of four people will release 18 litres of moisture into the air every day!
Condensation is the cause of many domestic problems, primarily damp that can damage the fabric of your home and cause plaster to crumble, but also creates the perfect conditions for mould to grow and dust mite populations to thrive.
Dust mite by-products and mould spores are common allergens that can lead to severe reactions in some people and negatively affect the health of those with weaker immune systems such as children and the elderly.
Modern houses are designed to be more energy efficient, and as a result supress the flow of air in and out of the building. Without a continuous flow of fresh air in and out of a building, relative humidity rises and with it, condensation.
If your home only suffers from condensation in the rooms where moisture is released such as bathrooms and kitchens, modern extractor fans will help. If the problem is more widespread, then you may want to consider a whole house ventilation system that will refresh the air in all rooms and maintain a lower humidity level.
Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) is an option in homes where mould and condensation are present in multiple rooms.
PIV systems can be installed in any home and work by drawing fresh filtered air into the building from outdoors via a unit that is mounted in the loft or a suitable cupboard.
This fresh air is gently supplied into the home from a central position, and this dilutes the humidity levels and forces the stale air to outside which significantly reduces humidity levels and prevents condensation and mould from developing.
Carpets can make a room feel cosy, but they are also a haven for dirt, dust mites, pollen hair and fungus, which may potentially aggravate breathing related conditions, such as asthma and bronchial attacks, as well as hay fever and eczema.
Supplement regular vacuuming of carpets with a deeper clean every few months with a good quality shampoo to reduce the presence of dirt and mould spores and you will reduce the number of allergens that can build up.
In bathrooms or kitchens where humidity levels are higher, you should consider hard floors as these will not retain moisture that can create an environment for mould to develop.
Asthma affects 5 million people in the UK every year. One of the ways asthma is triggered is through household dust mites and their detritus which flourish in damp, mouldy conditions.
Dust mites live in bedding, carpets and other soft furnishings and thrive in homes that where relative humidity is high.
When the waste products of these mites are inhaled or comes into contact with skin, it can cause allergic reactions, including asthma attacks, eczema, watering eyes, itching, and sneezing. Low levels of exposure may leave you with a constant runny nose.
One of the best ways of tackling house dust mites is to reduce relative humidity by installing an energy efficient ventilation system. This reduces the ability of the dust mite population to grow and contaminate the living environment.
Mould is a problem in more than 20% of UK homes, and aside from being an unpleasant sight that can be difficult to get rid of, it also releases spores that can cause allergic reactions and contribute to long term health problems.
Simply painting over mould is not enough to get rid of the problem. You can remove it with dilute bleach or a fungicidal cleaner, but for long term prevention, you need to address the cause.
Mould normally develops in damp patches as a result of condensation. By reducing humidity levels by installing extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, you can reduce the amount of water vapour that can form condensation, and this will prevent mould from developing.
Aerosols contain a variety of different chemicals that can build up in your home and cause health and allergic problems. Avoiding using aerosols indoors can help to reduce your exposure to a variety of volatile organic compounds that they contain.
According to the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), there are up to 900 chemicals found in indoor air. Aerosols can contribute to this number because they will often overspray into other areas rather than just the skin or hair where they are aimed. Consider alternative products such as stick or roll-on deodorants, and hair products like gel and wax.
If pollutants and allergens are allowed to build up in your home, it could be more harmful to your health that the air outdoors in a city!
A recent independent study of 122 homes discovered that poor air quality may be responsible for triggering respiratory and dermatological conditions such as asthma, eczema, and other allergies.
The study found that more than 9 out of 10 homes had levels of indoor pollutants well above the recommended level.
Simply opening windows can help to reduce the concentration of chemicals and pollutants in your home, but for full control of air flow, you might want to consider a whole house ventilation system that will clean the air continually by cycling stale air that carries particles and chemicals outside and bringing fresh air in to replace it.
According to a recent report by MEARU, 87 per cent of people dry their clothing and bedding indoors. But did you know, that by drying your washing on a radiator you can release 2 litres of water into the air from a single wash?
Releasing large amounts of additional moisture into the air from drying washing can contribute to condensation throughout your home, which in time will lead to mould. If you don’t have outdoor space to dry your washing, or if the weather is bad, make sure you open nearby windows to allow the moisture laden air to escape before it can form condensation.
Suffering from hayfever during the summer can make life miserable. High pollen levels outside will often mean closed windows that trap hot air indoors to create a hot and stuffy house. Unfortunately, simply closing the windows doesn’t fully prevent pollen from getting into a property as it will be carried on clothes and in hair – this is why it’s a good idea to shower before going to bed in summer.
A ventilation system with filtration will prevent particles of pollen from getting into your home while improving the air flow through different rooms. This prevents the air from getting stuffy and also helps to keep temperatures more comfortable.
Good ventilation will stop indoor pollen levels from getting too high, which means that you can enjoy the summer more without worrying about a streaming nose and sore eyes indoors.
If you are worried about the quality of the air in your home, or have a problem with condensation, damp, or mould, it’s important to do something before it affects your health.
Contact us today to book your free home survey. Our local specialists will visit your home and assess the level of risk. They will measure moisture levels and provide you with advice about the best course of action for you.
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