Could your home be making you ill?

Monday, 24th December 2018, 8:30 am
Updated Monday, 24th December 2018, 8:45 am

We spend around 90 per cent of our time indoors during the winter months, but poor air quality in the home can be the cause of many illnesses, according to health experts.

It's a fact that indoor air can be up to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.

Smoking, gas cookers, faulty boilers and heaters can all lead to poor air quality, which has been linked to respiratory problems. A lack of circulating air can cause condensation, leading to damp and mould problems.

Aside from looking unsightly, mould spores can cause health issues, such as nasal congestion, reduced lung function and chronic conditions including asthma and allergies.

Ventilation is the key to both health and energy conservation. For centuries, homes without ventilation never developed problems, so why go to extra expense and effort to ventilate our homes today?

Rex Nye of builders' merchants D.W. Nye, explained that unlike today’s homes, old houses had no insulation in the walls, so fresh air could enter through gaps, cracks and holes. Also, building materials were mostly produced using natural products, and many of today’s building and decorating materials contain chemicals that may be harmful to health.

Good ventilation benefits

Many houses are so draughty they’re impossible to heat, or are so well-sealed that the air becomes stale. The ideal balance is to make sure air can travel freely in and out of your property without wasting money by letting heat escape.

These quick fixes will ventilate your home naturally:

Make sure you open the door and windows in the kitchen when you’re cooking to allow odours and gases to escape. If you have one, turn on the extractor fan too.Always open the window when you’re having a bath or shower to prevent build-up of mould. If there’s an extractor fan, leave it on for at least half an hour after bathing to allow steam to escape.Don’t hang clothes over radiators as this creates mould spores, which can quickly become airborne. If you must dry clothes inside, hang them on a clothes horse and open a window to ventilate the room.Aim to air your home as often as you can. In winter, opening windows three times a day will make a real difference to the air quality in your home.If your windows have vents, leave them open to allow stale air to escape and fresh air in. Don’t worry about cold air - leaving vents open will make little difference to the temperature in the house. Adding vents is a simple way to ventilate your home and will help prevent problems such as dry rot and mould. Try Timloc Flyscreen Plastic Louvre Vent, £3.28, or Plastic Air Bricks, £1.46, both from www.dwnye.co.uk.

Professional ventilation

Many modern ventilation systems are capable of removing dust particles and other allergens, as well as improving indoor air quality. These include Heat Recovery Units, which maintain stable humidity levels, removing condensation and mould. Stale air is drawn out as it passes over a heat exchanger, which recovers the heat from the outgoing air in order to warm the incoming fresh air.

Passive ventilation uses the natural buoyancy of hot air and wind to encourage airflow through the property. The positioning of vents is important to make use of positive pressure from wind to encourage air movement through the house.

Passive Stack Ventilation (PSV) uses natural forces to ventilate a house by installing stacks and ducts which draw warm, moist air through grilles from a bathroom or kitchen and out through the roof.

Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) works by drawing in fresh, filtered air via a unit that’s usually installed in the loft. The units control humidity levels and remove indoor air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and radon gas.

If you feel your home is in need of a ventilation makeover, consider contacting a specialist to review your home’s requirements.