How to keep the air healthy during home remodeling
Air Quality News from IQAir
Remodeling can make an older home feel new again. But home remodeling can also fill the air with dangerous chemicals and other contaminants that put your health at risk. That’s why it’s important to protect your home’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) throughout the entire remodeling process:
1. Demolition – Ensuring that materials are properly disposed of.
2. Product selection – Researching the materials being used.
3. Installation/construction – Taking measures to control dust.
1. Demolition: Lead, asbestos, and other contaminants are a danger
Demolition is generally the least pleasant and most dangerous step in remodeling, at least in terms of IAQ. Dangerous pollutants are released by tearing out old drywall, masonry and flooring, and by stripping and sanding paint. This is especially true for homes built before the late 1970s, when leadbased paint and asbestos insulation were still commonly used in construction. Even in newer homes, demolition can stir up harmful particulates, biological contaminants and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Hire only properly trained, certified professionals, especially if you suspect that lead or asbestos are involved.
Solution: Seal off remodeling areas before you begin. If possible, seal off interior doorways completely by taping two layers of thick polyethylene plastic sheeting around the perimeter of the doorway. Try to enter the room from the exterior only. Seal HVAC ducts by removing the covers, stuffing towels inside and taping plastic over them.
2. Product selection: New products can release gases
It’s fun to pick out new cabinets, countertops, flooring and paint. But when it comes to your home’s IAQ, it’s important to focus on what those products are made of and how they will be installed. New products and installation materials can release (“off-gas”) VOCs that can damage your home’s IAQ. The sources of these VOCs can include caulks, sealants and coatings, paints, stains and varnishes.
Also, the components themselves — new carpeting, laminate and vinyl flooring, wall coverings and pressed-wood cabinets — could off-gas VOCs for months or even years to come.
Solution: Choose low- or no-VOC products. When selecting components such as flooring, carpeting, countertops, cabinets and paint, choose low- or no-VOC options. This will help prevent IAQ problems in your home both during and after remodeling.
3. Installation/Construction: Dust can trigger breathing problems
The installation of new components comes with its own IAQ issues. If materials such as stone, tile and wood are cut inside the home, this can create dust that triggers breathing problems, runny nose and watery eyes, especially in those with allergies. Some products, such as engineered stone made with epoxy resin and chemical hardeners, can give off dust that is toxic.
Solution: Protect the indoor air from unnecessary contaminants. Ask your contractor to cut flooring, countertop materials and tile outside so that most dust stays outside as well. Also, to reduce levels of off-gassing from adhesives and other chemicals, air out your home for at least three weeks after remodeling. Whenever possible, open windows and use exhaust fans. Leave windows open at least a crack at all times until the fumes are gone.
The key is to plan ahead and pay attention to Indoor Air Quality at each critical stage of remodeling. By doing this, you can help safeguard your home’s IAQ throughout the remodeling process. Breathing clean air during and after remodeling will help you stay healthy and happy as you enjoy the many benefits of your home improvements.
This online publication is brought to you by The IQAir Group, which develops innovative air quality solutions for indoor environments around the globe. IQAir is the exclusive educational partner of the American Lung Association for the air purifier industry.