Health Issues Caused by Cold Homes?

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Health Issues Caused by Cold Homes?

Health Issues Caused by Cold Homes?

We spend more than ninety percent of our time in the house, and for that reason, the indoor environment and its affect on our well-being are more important than is commonly presumed. One of the leading problems is that our homes are simply too cold which can lead to dampness, mold and respiratory illness. This is a particular problem with older homes, but not all new ones are immune. If house temperatures fall below 60°F the risk of respiratory illness increases because most cold houses are also typically damp.

Residents of a home produce a substantial amount of moisture in their day-to-day undertakings, such as showering, cooking, drying laundry, and even breathing has an effect (did you know that each person produces 4.25 cups of moisture per day this way?). All of this moisture condenses on cold surfaces, such as poorly insulated walls making those walls damp.

Not only can dampness be a health risk in itself, it can also encourage mold growth, which can also contribute to respiratory problems. More than 1/3 of homes contain mold, for healthy people most mold is not harmful; however, some species produce materials which are potentially toxic and may cause negative responses in some people, such as those with prior respiratory conditions. Mold also produces spores, when these are inhaled or come into contact with skin they may cause allergies, skin irritation, and can aggravate asthma.

Why are our houses so cold? Our houses are cold mostly because they are tough to heat. Two major reasons for this problem is poor insulation and inefficient heating systems. Poor insulation is very common in older houses, which generally have no wall, ceiling or floor insulation, and windows are not double glazed (unless added later). Many of our heaters are inefficient as well and some produce indoor air pollutants. Lack of flues with gas heaters, for instance, produce carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Newer homes can also be more damp and colder than what would be ideal. Some of the common problem areas in these homes are concrete slabs without insulation beneath, windows without double glazing, poorly installed insulation (for example, even very small gaps can reduce its efficiency by up to 50%), recessed down lights that allow warm air to be duct-ed into the ceiling, and poor ventilation.

How can houses be made warmer? Two ways in which homes can be made warmer are by installing insulation and having effective heating. Insulation can be installed in walls, ceilings and under floors. Double glazing is also a type of insulation, this is when windows have two layers of glass with a space in-between them, this was designed to reduce noise and loss of heat. In many older houses, insulation can be easily and relatively cheaply added to the ceiling and under floors. It is very essential that insulation is installed properly or it becomes much less efficient. Efficient, less polluting heaters include heat pumps, wood pellet burners and flued gas heaters.

Knowing all of the health issues that can come from cold homes, you as a home buyer want to make sure that before buying you get an inspection. An inspection can help determine the condition of the heating and cooling systems in the home. Along with heating systems here at NBI we can perform thermal imaging inspections which can be used to identify heating and cooling loss due to poor construction, missing or inadequate insulation and moisture intrusion. Correcting the defects plays a significant role in increasing building efficiency and structural integrity.

Here at NBI our philosophy is “Protecting what Matters”, we know that a home is an investment and you want to make sure that your family will be healthy and warm, you can do so by using National Building Inspections a trusted inspection company for over 15 years. Call us at 866-665-6022 or email us at nbimichigan@aol.com.

National Building Inspections