Air Pollution in Home

Problem: Indoor air contains pollutants that have the potential to affect your health.

Background: Although pollutants such as radon (see
Radon in Home) may come from outside air or soil, many indoor air pollutants are generated within the home—sometimes in ex cess of ten times the concentration of outdoor levels. Besides radon, potential pollutants include asbestos, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, car bon dioxide, and carbon monoxide (see Carbon Monoxide in Home). Typical sources of asbestos include pipe and duct insulation, shingles, and firewalls. Carbon dioxide sources include unvented combustion and human respiration.
Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide can come from gas stoves, furnaces, cigarettes, wood burning stoves, fireplaces, and unvented space heaters. Formaldehyde can be emitted from newly installed urea- formaldehyde foam insulation, or from new manufactured wood products such as furniture, ply wood, particle board, or paneling.

What to do: Ways of measuring in door air pollution have been developed, but in many cases they involve expensive equipment and technical expertise. Some private laboratories can pinpoint pollutants, but may charge between $300 and $2,000 to do such tests. Relatively inexpensive monitors that measure radon, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide can be installed in your home and later sent to a lab for analysis. The more air exchanges there are within the home the more often indoor pollutants are diluted with outdoor air to lower pollution concentrations. The more tightly concentrated a home, the lower its air-change rate will be. However, proper distribution of outside air within the home must also be considered because indoor pollution is generated in different areas of the home.
   Eliminate obvious sources of pollutants, such as all unvented combustion appliances, from the living space. A yellow flame in your gas furnace may indicate insufficient air supply for combustion, causing an increase in carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Attaching a combustion air duct from the outside to the appliance helps ensure safe combustion and minimizes the use of heated air inside the home. If the home seems too humid or has excessive condensation on windows, remove as many sources of moisture in the house as possible . This may include firewood stored in the basement, clothes hung inside to dry, and leaking basements.

Special advice: High levels of car bon dioxide (C02) may indicate that ventilation systems are not delivering enough fresh air. Symptoms may include stuffy air, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches. First try running several fans at night to help mix air, leaving bedroom doors open and setting fans to blow air out into the hail and living areas. If you have a forced-air heating system, set the furnace fan to run continuously at night. If you don’t feel more refreshed in a week or two, try running the fans, plus leaving a window in each bedroom open about a quarter of an inch. Also make sure there is an adequate gap between all interior doors and the floor.

Helpful hint: If the above measures don’t help, consider having a mechanical ventilation system installed by a contractor. To determine if a gas furnace is leaking combustion by products, hire a qualified professional. If you ever smell leaking gas in the home, contact your gas utility company immediately and follow their instructions. (also see
Gas Smell in Home)


 

Handy Tips, Advices and Warnings

 

To remove old wallpaper, first pull off as much as you can, then soak the remaining with Fleecy. It will peel off easily.

After wallpapering or painting, write the amount under a light-switch plate and you’ll always know how much wallpaper or paint you need for that room.

If you have a small hole in your wall (after moving pictures etc.) take a wax crayon as near the colour of your wall as possible. Rub the hole with the crayon, polish with a dry cloth and the hole is invisible.

 

Clean out old nail polish bottles and fill with “touch up” paint for scuffs and scratches that may occur on your walls.

When hanging pictures on plaster walls, put a small piece of adhesive tape where the nail is to go in. Drive the nail through the tape. This helps prevent the plaster from cracking.

Before wallpapering a wall, apply a coat of clear varnish to any grease spots. This will prevent the grease from soaking through the new paper.

Instead of applying wallpaper with a sponge, dip a paint roller in the solution, squeeze slightly to prevent dripping and roll it over 20-30 sq. feet at a time. 

Buy stair carpeting a little longer than needed. When it shows signs of wear it can be shifted downward to delay replacement.

To avoid wearing out spots on heavy traffic areas, use extra pieces of material cut out of the same material as the rug or linoleum.

If your kitchen cupboards have worn out or if there are scuff marks around the handles, remove handles and glue on tiles to cover the scuffs. Replace handles over the tiles. This adds an interesting colour accent and saves replacing or refinishing the doors.

When a drain is clogged with grease, pour a cup of salt and a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a kettle of boiling water.

 

If your water taps have a tendency to freeze during a cold spell, leave your taps on slightly. Running water will not freeze.

Frozen water pipes can safely and easily be thawed out by using an ordinary hair dryer nozzle directed at the frozen pipe. 

To tighten cane-bottomed chairs, turn them upside down and liberally apply hot water to the underside. Dry the chairs in the sun.

When sanding or refinishing, cover your hand with an old nylon stocking. Glide your hand over the surface to be redone. Any rough areas will snag the stocking where more sanding needs to be done.

 

 

 

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