We’ve been told for years to caulk around every window, door and crack around our home to make it more energy efficient, but according to home improvement expert and Today’s Homeowner Host Danny Lipford, it can cause a real problem when it comes to indoor air quality. Danny was kind enough to join me for an interview recently to discuss how we can improve the air quality in our homes with simple appliances and plants too!
Candace Rose: Indoor air quality has become a real big problem these days. Why are we hearing so much about it now?
Danny Lipford: “Well, I’ll tell you what, the builders are building houses that are a lot tighter to make them more energy efficient, and of course homeowners and existing homes are doing the same things with insulated windows, caulking around the windows and every crack they can find on the house. Certainly energy efficient doors, sealing everything up they can is great for the energy bill, but not so good in having to trap a lot of the excess moisture that you have in typical homes as well as allergens and pollutants. That’s where the problem has really gotten worse, especially in the colder and real hot months where you spend a lot of time inside.”
Candace Rose: What can we do to eliminate these problems?
Danny Lipford: “I would suggest the first thing you do is attack the areas with excess moisture, and it starts in the kitchen. Your kitchen and bath are the areas that have the most moisture and especially when you have a living room space like this that opens up to the kitchen makes it very important to have a properly sized and properly installed range hood. This one is from Broan (please see video for details). It’s called the Allure hood, it’s pretty cool how it adjusts to all of the different fan speeds so that you don’t have to have that loud, loud fan that you may have had with past range hoods, but also it has the adjustment for the intensity of the light that’s pretty cool. It’s very, very easy to clean. Range hoods like this are much better than the over the range microwaves. I know they’re very popular, but I’ll tell you they’re just not sufficient in getting all of the smells and odors and moisture out of your kitchen. Another very important thing is making sure when they’re installed that it’s vented all the way to the outside, not just to the attic.
Bathrooms are very important from this standpoint. Actually in this house, the master bath had no exhaust fans so the homeowners had all kinds of problems with mold and mildew, and they really needed the exhaust fans bad, so we installed a high efficiency Broan exhaust fan and vented it all the way to the outside right now they have no mold and mildew, and no foggy mirrors. It’s very important, and when you have them you need to use them so when you’re cooking those gourmet meals or taking that long hot shower, leave the exhaust fans on for at least 15 minutes after you’re through.”
Candace Rose: Does your heating and cooling system have a lot to do with the quality of air in your home?
Danny Lipford: “No doubt about it, your heating and cooling system is your first line of defense when you’re looking to really rid the air, and maybe dust, pet dander, as well as a lot of the allergens and pollutants. It starts with your return air grille, and making sure that you change this filter on a regular basis. If you buy a good filter like an electrostatic filter, you’re only having to change it about every three months. They’re very reasonable – only about $12 – $15 a piece. But I’ll tell you, the ultimate way to really clean that air inside and just have a better air quality is to have a balanced ventilation system that integrates into your heating and cooling system. Basically this is a system that exhausts the stale air, bringing back fresh air and filter it through a HEPA filter. Instead of exhausting hot air that you may have during the winter months, it will actually heat the air coming in to the same temperature that the air is coming out. It’s a great way to do that. Different systems like ERV and HRV systems from Broan – great way to ultimately clean the air inside your home.”
Candace Rose: Are there any other things that a homeowner can do to have a healthier home?
Danny Lipford: “Well, there’s some fun things too! It might surprise you that just by buying plants and have them around the house can really help clean up the air. A lot of plants will actually filter VOC’s or volatile organic compounds that are a result of outgassing from cleaning supplies that you may have in the home. It’s a great way to decorate the home, as well as clean the air. And speaking of the cleaning materials that you may have around all of those bottles of cleaners and so forth, first of all look for ones that have low VOC’s. And those that you do have to have, put them in a clear airtight container, and try to store them in an area outside the living space like a garage. It makes a lot better sense to really improve the quality of air you have inside your home.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Danny Lipford: “Well, I’d love for you to drop by my website at TodaysHomeOwner.com.”