Indoor Air Quality and Weatherization

If your looking at having an energy audit or weatherization project for your home here are a few questions to ask….

1.  Will I need an air exchanger system to overcome the sealing from the weatherization of my home.  Cost for a standard air exchanger system $2000 – $3000.

2.  Will you perform backdrafting testing on my home after the weatherization.

Unchecked, a tightly sealed house can present a flurry of problems, such as range hoods and clothes dryers creating negative pressures in houses large enough to backdraft furnaces, water heaters or fireplaces. The concern then becomes that this can introduce carbon monoxide and other deadly gases directly into the house.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is called the silent killer or the silent threat. This is because it is colourless, odorless, and silent. It is formed as a by-product of combustion of carbon-based fuels such as natural gas, propane (LPG), coal, coke, furnace oil, kerosene and wood. Carbon monoxide is absorbed by breathing and is 245 times more absorbent to the body than oxygen. Symptoms of poisoning can be mis-diagnosed as flu since they are very similar.

Symptoms Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Persistent, severe headaches
  • Dizziness and blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, weakness of muscles
  • Insomnia and constantly tired
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Cherry colored skin

The appliances that can generate CO within your house are the furnace, boiler, water heater, un-vented fuel burning heaters and solid fuel burning appliances. The three main problems are improper installation, chimney or vent blocked by bricks or bird’s nests etc. and inadequate ventilation, providing insufficient air to properly fuel the combustion process.

In addition to the symptoms of illness, a number of other signs can alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide in your house. Although carbon monoxide is problematic to detect, a stuffy, stale smell in your house may be a warning of its presence and not necessarily an indication that you should clean out the closets. If you have already taken measures to reduce moisture in your house, and you still see dripping water condensation on your windows, carbon monoxide may be present in your home. Moreover, closely inspect your stove to see that the normal blue flame you get upon ignition has not been replaced by a yellow burner flame. Or, if the pilot light in your furnace continues to go out, turn off the suspect equipment, evacuate everyone from the house and call a licensed heating contractor. A close inspection of your house may reveal that the source of carbon monoxide comes directly from your stove, fireplace, furnace or even your car. Although you would not know it, it is possible that your appliances have not been installed properly.

When your home is too airtight, dangerous carbon monoxide gases begin to seep into the air without you being aware of it. Like you, your house needs to be able to breathe. Excessive weatherizing has the potential to block the necessary flow of air needed for the safe operation of all appliances and heating equipment. Clear the air in your house with proper ventilation, know the dangers of excessive weatherization and don’t give carbon monoxide the chance to harm you and your family.

Maybe a little energy loss is worth good air quality……