“Your house – including its indoor environment – is a reflection of your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being,” says David Young, MPH, and indoor health specialist.
While your home isn’t quite a living, breathing organism, a house is more than just structure. It needs to be cared for or it will become ill. A home can, in turn, infect the homeowners and those living in the structure.
That’s why we reached out to David Young, owner of INLOGIX Enterprises LLC and indoor environmental professional. David has been studying wellness for more than 26 years and is an IICRC certified Master Water Restorer and a Master Fire and Smoke Restorer.
David breaks down what can make your home ill and how to improve indoor air quality below!
What pollutants can lead to indoor air pollution?
While there are many different indoor air pollutants that can endanger a home and its people, they generally come in four forms – airborne particulates, chemicals, microbiologicals, and radiation.
“The very first and most important thing is to educate yourself about contaminants,” says David. “If you don’t have a good foundation, then everything else is shaky. So read and watch – somehow educate yourself on the subject.”
Once you have an understanding of the indoor contaminants, then you take steps to reduce your risk to health effects. Learn how to improve the indoor air quality of your home and take better care of it with these simple steps!
Invest in a certified HEPA vacuum cleaner
Most homeowners use a simple high efficiency particulate air [filter] (HEPA) vacuum that they buy from their local store. Unfortunately, many of these are not true HEPA vacuums.
“A true certified HEPA vacuum has a fairly large filter, usually like one foot by one foot, that can trap the particles without the pressure going out the gaskets,” says David.
Buy a vacuum like the ones remediators use in order to rid your home of some contaminants.
“Many times, you can find a good-quality true HEPA vacuum for less than $400,” says David.
Use your kitchen’s exhaust fan
Running your kitchen exhaust fan while you’re cooking on the stove is very important to helping improve indoor air quality.
“A huge portion of particulates comes from cooking,” says David, “and you can reduce not only particulates but also chemicals just by running the exhaust fan.”
Get out your microfiber cloths!
“General dusting can reduce any kind of source of particulates in the house,” says David.
Just remember to clean “top to bottom,” meaning dust your ceiling fan before running your vacuum. If you clean “bottom to top,” you’ll end up leaving dust and other particulates in your environment.
Adds David, “Keeping a house uncluttered or even minimizing clutter and keeping the house pest-free goes a long way as well.”
Get tips to declutter your home from professional organizers in Top Professional Organizing Tips to Improve Your Home’s Value and Safety.
Minimize the use of chemicals
“Using simple cleaning chemicals, such as water, castile soap, and diluted rubbing alcohol can reduce the need for multiple toxic chemicals in the house,” says David.
By limiting the number of chemicals you use, you’ll reduce the sources of indoor air pollution in your home. That immediately will help to improve your indoor environment.
You also need to be aware of “off-gassing,” or when new building materials, furniture, carpet, or other materials give off a gas, which can be hazardous to your health.
“Have some proper ventilation from the outside, assuming the humidity is not too high,” says David. “Just bring in a little bit of fresh air.”
Mitigating radiation in the home
While you should test your home for radon, you may also need to address “electrosmog.”
“It comes from Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and the many different sources of radio frequencies, magnetic fields, and electric fields in home,” warns David.
These combined fields can have a dramatic impact on the body and your mental health, and it’s important to understand how electrosmog can affect a home and its owners overtime.
“Basically, Wi-Fi and other sources of radio frequency is information that’s passed through the air that can dramatically affect you on a cellular basis,” says David. “It affects your red blood cells, affects calcium, affects oxygen. It affects the whole body in a multitude of ways.”
David suggests homeowners educate themselves on the subject of electrosmog and then take the simplest action to reduce exposure.
“Many times, these are simple, low-cost lifestyle changes,” says David. “Usually that’s changing a device or learning how to use technology safely.”
Improving the exterior of the home
The exterior of the home plays a huge role in the indoor health environment, specifically the gutters.
“The gutters and then the downspouts remove rainwater from the roof, down the building, and away from the foundation,” says David.
Many elements contribute to the success of this system – the size of the gutters and downspouts, how clean they are, what type of gutter guards you have (if any), and even the slope of the land, which carries the water away from the foundation.
“The gutters need to be kept clean,” says David, “and there’s some very good gutter guards out there that work. So doing your research on gutter protection goes a long way.”
Gutter guards help to seal your gutters from leaves, pests, and even tree debris. This way, only water can get in and be directed away from the home.
Also, check the exterior of your home for rot, and make sure to keep the exterior properly maintained – including lawn care.
“That should be sufficient for a lot of homes,” says David.
Learn more about preventing an interior home flood in Why Your Basement is Leaking and How to Save It.
Invest in prevention
According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, 35 million U.S. homes place their occupants at risk. Prevention can help to mitigate a wide range of issues, including leaking roofs, carbon monoxide buildup, mold, or more. Before you can even begin to address these issues, you need an understanding of the home and its systems.
“Too many times, we have found that either one or both spouses don’t understand all aspects of their home’s mechanical systems,” says David. “They don’t know that the filter needs changing or how to turn off the water or how to maintain a water heater. They don’t spend enough effort and time to bring in people to properly maintain the house over time.”
David suggests homeowners hire a mechanical technician at least once a year to maintain the HVAC system. Also, a plumber should inspect your systems once a year, drain the hot water heater as warranted, and check for leaks.
“Relying on qualified professionals goes a long way,” says David.
Love thy home
Ultimately, the health of your home relies upon you and the care you give your home.
“The health of your home has to do with the attitude of the home and your attitude towards cleaning and maintaining it,” says David. “If you’re not going to do it with a positive attitude and with love, then maybe you reconsider owning a home.”
When you embrace your home as an extension of yourself, then you’ll find the indoor health of your home will improve.
“When people add love to it, it can go a long way to living a full life in your home,” says David. “How you care for your home can go a long way to your health, your physical health and your mental and spiritual health as well.”
Take care of your home
We know how difficult it is to know what to do and when to do it around the home. That’s why we help to simplify homeownership through our home management app, which provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home tasks. From tips to improve your indoor air quality to vacuuming your dryer vent, we’ve got you covered.
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