1. Does anyone in your home have respiratory challenges or chronic allergies?
If you or any of your family members suffer from chronic respiratory issues like asthma, sinus irritation, and infection, or coughing and wheezing, the quality of the air you are breathing at home could be exacerbating these issues (or even causing them). Dust, mold spores, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other harmful particles can enter your home through unplanned air leaks that exist throughout your home and can recirculate through your heating and cooling system.
2. Are second-floor bedrooms uncomfortably hot in the summer heat?
Have you ever walked upstairs during a stifling summer day, and felt the temperatures rise with every step? You may have justified it by saying something like, “Well, heat rises, right?”
It is never a good sign when two or more areas of the living spaces in your home are at a significant temperature difference. This is another indicator that the insulation and air sealing in your home should be addressed, and there may be issues with the ductwork associated with your furnace and air conditioner.
3. How outrageous are your energy bills?
So far, we have looked at the symptoms of an unhealthy home that you might identify with your body, eyes, and ears. But what about the symptoms you feel in your wallet? If your energy costs keep going up, year after year, whether its heating season or cooling season, you could be living in a leaky and unhealthy home.
4. Are things feeling a bit… drafty?
Even if you have settled the timeless battle to find the “perfect thermostat setting” for your family members, drafts in your home can still negatively affect your home comfort. Indoor drafts are caused by air leakage, but also by temperature differences throughout the rooms and levels of your home.
Fixing indoor drafts can be done through proper insulation, air sealing your home, and a proper assessment of your heating and cooling system.
5. Do you get large icicles or ice dams on your roof in winter?
Icicles may be pretty to look at, but they can be a sign that ice dams are on the way. During the winter, when Westchester temperatures can drop below freezing, the heat you use to stay warm inside your home can escape through the under-insulated areas of your ceiling and attic. This escaping heat can melt some of the snow on your roof, where it drains and refreezes on the colder roof edge.
As ice builds up on your roof, it will prevent subsequent snowmelt from draining. This is what is called an ice dam, which can cause serious moisture issues and damage your roof, attic, and other areas of your home!
6. Does your house smell musty or humid during certain times of the year?
Controlling the humidity in your home is a serious concern for homeowners that want to avoid the types of mold that can cause health and safety issues. Mold growth happens when a mold spore has the right temperature, humidity, and food source (which usually comes in the form of sheetrock or wood throughout your home), and can give off a musty smell. You may only notice this smell during the more humid times of the year, but it can indicate an underlying mold issue that has been affecting your indoor air quality all year long.
7. Have you seen mold in any part of your home?
Smelling mold is one thing — seeing it is another! You don’t have to smell mold for it to be hidden in your attic, crawlspace, floors, and walls. If you are looking for what to do about mold in your house, it is a two-part answer: Remove the existing mold and then prevent any underlying moisture issues from creating future mold problems. For example, a common problem we notice is a bathroom fan that vents up into the attic. Think about all that steam and moisture in the air after you take a shower going straight up into the attic — this can make for a mold-playground!
Here at Healthy Home Energy & Consulting, we are constantly on the lookout for mold in our Healthy Home Evaluations. If we spot mold in your house, we will determine if this is a one-off mold growth situation or something stemming from a chronic moisture issue. Once the existing mold has been remediated, we will work alongside you to come up with a permanent solution that will prevent future mold growth.
8. Is there interior condensation on your windows?
Are you rolling up your sleeves so you can wipe your windows and check to see if the mailman has arrived? Interior condensation may seem like a small annoyance, but it can indicate there is too much moisture in your home. When warm indoor moisture comes in contact with the cooler temperatures of a window surface, it condenses into fog and sometimes tiny water droplets.
Inside window condensation problems can be fixed by addressing air leaks throughout your home, upgrading your insulation, and properly ventilating your living space. If every room in your house is stuffy, this may be just the fix!
9. Are you constantly looking for ways to reduce dust in your home?
Have you ever gone through the weekly dusting of your home, and then noticed just 24 hours later that the dust had built up again? Or maybe you noticed that the amount of dust coming off your mantles and picture frames seems to get worse and worse, even though your cleaning habits have stayed the same.
Dust can be sucked into your living spaces through holes in your ductwork or cracks and gaps hidden throughout your home. The negative pressure inside your home brings air from the outside in, bringing along with it dirt and contaminants, as well as any loose contaminants in your attic, walls, and crawl space.