Breathe Easy: Improving Indoor Air Quality

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At Dorn Homes careful consideration goes into every design and building choice. You can see it in our award-winning architecture and our extensive design options. One place that you can’t see it is in the air itself. Every home that Dorn Homes builds is guided by a promise that we make to each and every homebuyer. We call that promise The Organic Home. The Organic Home is a commitment to provide a safe and healthy indoor environment for you, your family, and your pets.

When we build, we use whole home ventilation systems, low or no volatile organic compound (VOC) materials, and healthy home building techniques. In fact, Dorn Homes is one of the first homebuilders to receive the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS certification. This means that, in addition to offering ENERGY STAR Certified Homes, we take extra steps in the design and construction of our homes to protect them from moisture and mold, pests, combustion gases, and other airborne pollutants.

The reason this is so important to us is that Indoor Air Quality can have real health effects in both the short and long term. While we do our part building to the highest Indoor Air Quality standards, here are a few steps you can take to breathe a little easier.

Determine if There’s a Problem

While there are tests you can purchase to measure your air quality and the presence of mold and radon, those may not be necessary in all instances. The EPA recommends a simple smell test to determine if you may have trouble with your Indoor Air Quality. Step outside for a few minutes and then go back inside, a musty or unpleasant odor is a good indication that you may need to address your air quality.

Vent, Vent, Vent

The most effective method for handling poor Indoor Air Quality is improving ventilation. You can do this through natural or mechanical means. At Dorn Homes every home is built with a mechanical whole home ventilation system, but if you find yourself needing a higher volume venting (when painting or cooking for instance) it’s as easy as opening a few windows. Opening windows on opposite sides of the house is a great way to naturally vent the home and encourage airflow.

Clean the Air

There are far too many air purifiers to discuss the benefits of each one, but you really only need to know a few numbers to make a decision. How much air flows through the purifier and how efficient it is. A higher efficiency translates to more allergens captured while high airflow (measured in cubic feet per minute) means more air is cleaned. Ideally you want a purifier that is both efficient and has a high airflow. If you’re considering buying an air purifier, compare various models based on those two factors.

Plants?

There have been some studies that have found indoor plants improve Indoor Air Quality and other studies that have found that having plants in your living spaces offer a psychological benefit while reducing stress. Be careful not to overwater them though, wet soil can lead to moldy soil.

Maintenance

Maintenance means both controlling sources and managing exposure. The EPA recommends source control as the most important step in managing Indoor Air Quality. That means, removing sources of harmful pollutants or allergens, things like old drywall or cabinets, high VOC paint, or houseplants that have caused an allergic reaction. If you are dealing with high VOC paints or building materials, the solution could be as simple as a new coat of paint. Many companies now make VOC blocking paints that are not only affordable, but also effective at improving Indoor Air Quality and indoor odor.

If allergens are more of a concern, installing highly rated air filters in your ventilation system is an excellent investment (make sure you’re changing them according to the manufacturer’s instructions). Dorn Homes installs high-quality Merv-10 filters in every home we build. Additionally, cleaning your vacuum’s filter can help ensure that when you’re cleaning your home you’re not inadvertently filling the air with irritating dust and dander.

If you’re interested in more information on Indoor Air Quality or the Indoor airPLUS Certification, you can read about it on the EPA’s website here. And, if you’d like to find out more about our building science click here or talk to one of our Online Home Advisors.

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