Indoor Air Pollution
The Consumer Federation of America cites that indoor air pollution is responsible for up to 50% of all illness. Estimated cost in medical bills and lost work time amount to over $100 billion annually.
The American Medical Association has stated that with the reduction of fresh air entering a home, increased levels of Radon gas and other known carcinogens have been detected. The pollutants are known to cause serious health problems. Indoor air quality, or rather the lack of it, can be identified by the three “B’s” of ventilation:
The first “B” is breathing. Consider all of the people and pets breathing in air and out carbon dioxide. Each breath reduces the amount of oxygen that is available within the house. If the house is tight then the oxygen content will get less and less causing respiratory problems for the occupants.
The second “B” is blowing. Take into consideration all the exhaust fans within the house, bathroom, kitchen, clothes dryers, central vacuum, power vented furnace or water heater each of these blows air out, not one appliance is designed to bring air in to balance itself. Too much air being blown out of a house can lead to depressurization. Smoke escaping from a wood stove is one indication that your house is being depressurized. Few wood stoves burners realize that they have a down draft problem but freely admit to having that nice woodsy aroma. That nice woodsy aroma turns to a nasty creosote smell in the early hours of the morning.
The third “B” is burning and concerns all of the appliances that heat or involve the combustion process. These appliances include a furnace, water heater, fireplace, wood stove, cooker, and indoor BBQ. When these appliances are working they simply burn up the oxygen again reducing the amount available for breathing. If you leave a fireplace burning; in the early hours of the morning, when the fire is nearly out and the furnace comes on, there is enough draw up the furnace flue to reverse the flow in the fireplace chimney, causing a downdraft and the nasty smell associated with it. This can also work in reverse where furnace fumes can be drawn out of a flue by a briskly burning fire; these fumes are dangerous and contain carbon monoxide which can kill.
If your house is tight and does not have adequate ventilation, when morning comes you can easily smell the residue from the wood fire or the previous day’s activities, combine these with cooking, cleaning chemicals and the off-gassing from furniture, carpets, and paints etc. and you can see that you are living in a soup of low pressure polluted air.
The easy answer is to open a window in each room however, this solution is not always practical since the air coming in will be cold and your heating bills will go up very quickly.
Obviously, you need fresh air but in a controlled fashion. What is required is a ventilation system that is able to supply warmed fresh air, be able to compensate for negative air pressure, and supply combustion air at a place and time when needed.
The cure should be maintenance free and easier to operate than opening a window. A Plusaire whole house ventilator sized for your home will do exactly that.