Older homes are more vulnerable to weather-related indoor air concerns such as mold and mildew. Warm weather patterns force homeowners to run air conditioners more frequently which is a major factor where I live in South Florida. An increase in precipitation or high winds brought on by storms can leave your home susceptible to moisture intrusion and damage. As a summer weather pattern sets in, it is important to address your indoor air concerns and prevent potential problems. This article is here to help you understand how weather affects the air in your home.
How can you protect your home from common indoor air problems brought on by summer weather?
- Have your home air tested. Many harmful biological and chemical pollutants cannot be detected without an air sample analysis. An air test will alert you to the presence of mold, formaldehyde, and hundreds of other harmful VOCs. While you may not be able to see or smell dangerous indoor air pollutants, this test will provide you with a detailed analysis alerting you to the presence of any home air threats.
- Change your air filters and have your HVAC system inspected regularly. Air filters prevent dust particles from entering into your home and circulating through your ventilation system. Most HVAC technicians recommend using a filter with a minimum efficiency reporting value of 8. If you suffer from allergies or have an older home, it is recommended that you use a filter with a minimum efficiency reporting value of 11 to filter out finer particles of dust and mold. Remember to change your filter more frequently when weather dictates running your air conditioner for extended periods of time.
- Inspect your home for signs of water damage. Whether your current weather pattern has brought an increase in precipitation or if your home recently sustained high winds or hail in a storm, you will need to inspect your home for any signs of damage and water leaks. Have broken or missing shingles replaced immediately. Look for any other signs that water may be building up or leaking into your home. Water damage will lead to mold and needs to be addressed immediately.
- High humidity also encourages mold growth. Installing a dehumidifier can reduce the humidity in your home to a comfortable level minimizing the threat of mold growth. For those who live in South Florida or other warm, humid climates, I recommend looking into having an energy recovery ventilator installed which provide dehumidification as well as circulating fresh air into your HVAC system. For cold climates a heat recovery ventilator is recommended.
- Strive to open windows and doors allowing fresh air in as often as possible when weather permits. If you live in a region where high temperatures or high humidity make it uncomfortable to let fresh air in, use ceiling fans to circulate airflow and try opening some windows overnight or in the dry season when temperature and humidity are lower.
These are some useful tips I give my clients when discussing this topic. These are also factors that help me when diagnosing indoor air quality issues. I hope that this information has helped you understand how weather affects the air in your home.