Monthly Archives: January 2017

Why and Where Mould Grows Indoors

Why and Where Mould Grows Indoors

Mould is a naturally occurring fungus found in moist environments. It usually appears spotty and smells musty; however, it can come in various forms—some more dangerous than others. Unfortunately, mould is not always easy to detect without a scent. After all, it commonly sprouts in places you cannot see:

  • Drywall (not the side facing inward);
  • Framing;
  • Carpet underside;
  • Storage (i.e. cardboard boxes);
  • Kitchen and bathroom tiles, cabinets and flooring.

Anywhere in your home exposed to excess moisture is at risk of fungal growth, a reason why proper ventilation and dehumidifiers are essential. Acknowledging as much, consider how the following contributes to moisture in the home:

  • Showering, bathing, cooking and washing;
  • Leaks in the foundation, flooring, walls and roof;
  • Plumbing problems;
  • Interior condensation from poor heat regulation;
  • Weather conditions.

Indoor Mould and Your Health

Mould can cause an array of respiratory problems. The severity of said problems depends on how much mould is present in the home and for how long it’s been there. Your own respiratory health also plays a role—if you already suffer from breathing difficulties, mould will exacerbate the symptoms. Likewise, children and elderly are more susceptible to respiratory damage.

If you detect mould in your home, consult a physician immediately and call a professional to fully remove it.

The Negative Health Effects of Poor Air Quality

Poor-Air-Quality

Living in an environment with poor air quality can produce many long and short-term health complications. However, the symptoms you exhibit largely depend on the type of contaminants you’re around, the amount of them as well as your age and health.

Organic Pollutants

Contaminants like dander and dust mites trigger many allergy-like symptoms:

  • Fatigue,
  • Headaches,
  • Coughing,
  • Sneezing,
  • Congestion,
  • Irritated eyes,
  • Dry skin.

If you suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), then you might find these symptoms much worse. In fact, over time, they may develop into severer conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis.

Second-hand smoke produces most of the aforesaid symptoms; however, it is also carcinogenic. Likewise, exposure to mold and mildew can bring about acute respiratory problems. Mold, particularly, is dangerous because it can cause ‘sick building syndrome,’ which affects your short-term memory and can transform into different infectious diseases.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs come from many everyday products and appliances, making them difficult to eradicate. That said, in high concentrations, VOCs can induce:

  • Headaches,
  • Skin and respiratory irritations,
  • Confusion and discoordination,
  • Nausea,
  • Nosebleeds.

Over time, VOCs threaten to damage the heart, liver, kidneys and central nervous system.

Gases

Carbon Monoxide (CO) can be lethal in high doses. That said, most appliances contribute just a bit of CO to the home’s indoor pollution. Even still, you may suffer from headaches, angina and nausea if unfiltered.

For more information on the types of pollutants found in your home and how to get rid of them, read our previous blog, “The Most Common Sources of Indoor Pollution.”

What’s the Difference between a Humidifier and a Dehumidifier?

What’s the Difference between a Humidifier and a Dehumidifier?

Both humidifiers and dehumidifiers control an environment’s moisture level: humidifiers increase it while dehumidifiers decrease it. Typically, you would use a humidifier during the cold, dry winter and a dehumidifier in the warm, muggy summer. More accurately, though, you should humidify when the moisture level falls below 30 percent and dehumidify when it exceeds 50 percent.

Proper humidity levels contribute to good health. A lack of moisture can lead to irritations like dry eyes, itchiness and scratchy throats. Conversely, too much of it can make us uncomfortable and congested. Worse, too much moisture can encourage mold and pollen growth.

Your furniture is also affected by oscillating humidity levels. High and low moisture concentrations cause wood to expand and shrink (respectively), thus warping it season-to-season in unregulated environments. Guitarists know this well when the fretboard starts to buzz. Regular homeowners might notice swelling in doorframes and floorings too.

Types of Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

There are two types of humidifiers: warm and cold mist models. Warm mist machines boil water and steam the air, while cold mist machines use a fan to evaporate water and cycle it into the air. Consider how you feel about saunas—if you find breathing in them challenging, then favour the cold mist models.

Dehumidifiers come in many more forms:

  • Refrigerative uses a small fan to draw moisture from the air over a cold coil to facilitate condensation;
  • Electronic creates a cool surface with a heat pump to encourage condensation;
  • Dessicant uses absorbent materials to relieve moisture from the air;
  • Ionic removes moisture at a molecular level, best suited for chemical engineering purposes.

Which Rooms Need a Humidifier Most?

Which Rooms Need a Humidifier Most?

In your home, you can determine which rooms need a humidifier based on several environmental and behavioural factors. For instance, the season affects indoor humidity levels as well as the home’s central air exchange and filtration systems (depending on their sophistication). Likewise, you can prioritize which rooms need moisture control based on where you spend most of your time. After all, humidifiers can optimize respiratory and epidermal health as well as air quality.

The Bedroom

Moisture control in the bedroom is essential for a good night sleep. Dry air can lead to congestion and itchiness (dry skin), two things sure to keep you awake until the morning.

Humidity regulates breathing and helps keep the body comfortable. This is especially true for infants, as their systems are much more susceptible to congestion, infection and sickness. In fact, humidifiers in the nursery can even lessen mucus build-up.

A lesser known benefit of placing a humidifier in the bedroom is white noise. Its gentle hum can drown out sounds that may otherwise disrupt you or your baby’s sleep.

Other Considerations

While the living room is likely the second most trafficked area in the home, there are other spaces that may benefit more from a humidifier. For example, rooms with wooden furniture, instruments or billiards tables. Wood can warp if temperature and humidity levels fluctuate too much, making humidifiers a necessary investment.

Similarly, you need to consider which rooms have space for a humidifier. The appliance should never be in a dangerous spot like somewhere someone will trip over it, near electrical outlets (where the mist comes out) or blocked by furniture that can catch in the machine (i.e. couches).

Which Features Make a Thermostat Smart?

What Features Make a Thermostat Smart?

An ordinary thermostat provides a central unit for manual temperature adjustment. Older models use switches and scales to increase or decrease the temperature, while modern ones come with touch screens and dial controls. Those with touch screen input typically offer programmability, which allows you to set temperatures based on the time of day or week.

Programmability falls under the scope of a regular thermostat. Only once the unit allows remote connectivity does it become smart because wireless connectivity enables you to download data about your home’s energy consumption.

Smart Tracking and Reporting

All smart thermostats track energy consumption in some form. Cheaper models simply report energy habits, such as average temperatures and energy costs, and deliver this data to your mobile device over Wi-fi. Via an app, you can track, analyze and respond to trends remotely. Likewise, you can control your thermostat from the app, providing greater control flexibility.

High-end units take reporting a step further and automate temperature control to save more energy and keep your home at a consistent, comfortable temperature.

Learning about Your Energy Habits

Smart thermostats can learn your temperature behaviours over time, eliminating the need to program or adjust them. Those that best perform this function use sensors throughout the home to measure multiple locations and identify hot and cold spots. Even without sensors, though, your thermostat can learn about your home’s energy habits and efficiently automate your heating and cooling systems.