A few weeks ago, we ran articles concerning the Healthy Homes program, where we focused on the principles of Healthy Homes, Keep it Dry, Keep it Clean, and Keep it Pest Free. The next principle, which we’ll discuss here, is Keep It Ventilated.
Most likely, you never think of your home as being a ventilated system. However, homes are indeed designed for proper ventilation. Vents are designed into homes to bring fresh air in, and let the old air out. This is usually done through gable vents or soffit vents letting the new air in, and the roof vents (in one form or another) letting the old air out. Because the roof vents are typically higher up than the gable vents, as hot air rises, it will escape through the roof. This keeps your home ventilated. However, more is going on than just letting the heat out of the attic. By having a well ventilated home, you are allowing the removal of moisture, odors, and pollutants from your home. Keep in mind that pollutants are up to five times higher inside the home than outside.
Consider your furnace, hot water heater, and stove, and clothes dryer. If they are gas, they must be vented to the outside. This will help reduce carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Even though these items are vented, it is still a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector/alarm. Each year, there are over 500 deaths from carbon monoxide in the home, and more than 15,000 non-fire related healthcare visits.
In addition to the appliances mentioned, bathrooms should also be vented. Local code requires a bathroom exhaust fan which is vented to the attic or outside in every bathroom, unless there is an operable window. This is not only for odors, but moisture issues as well. Is your exhaust fan working properly? An easy test is to take a few sheets of toilet paper and hold it up to the exhaust fan when it is turned on. If the paper stays at the fan opening, then you know air is being sucked out as it should. These fan coverings should occasionally be vacuumed.
Professionals recommend occasionally opening windows in your home, even and especially in the Winter, to get rid of the stale air in the home. You want air circulation to give you that exchange of air. New energy efficient furnaces take the air from outside, heat it, and then force it into the home. Furnace filters are made to trap particles. As the health factors are becoming easily recognized, we now have minimum efficiency ratings (MERV) on our furnace filters. The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends at least a MERV 8 filter.
Proper ventilation plays an important role in maintaining health, removing humidity and diluting or removing contaminants.
Through our recent training to become a certified Healthy Homes inspector, in conjunction with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter, we have developed a 65-point, whole house inspection for families who deal with allergy and asthma issues to help identify and remedy environmental issues that can cause problems. We’re offering this inspection at a reduced rate of $90 through the end of May for anyone affiliated with, or who mentions the AAFA-STL when scheduling their appointment (normal value is $140). What’s more, for every 5 inspections purchased, Get It Done is offering one hour of service to AAFA-STL clients.
AAFA-STL is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the asthmatic and allergic needs of the St. Louis community for over 31 years. AAFA-STL’s medical assistance program, Project Concern, provided uninsured and underinsured children with life-saving asthma and allergy medications, equipment,