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The Importance of Proper Ventilation in a Home


Having proper ventilation in a home is critical. Without it, a build-up of moisture or contaminants from paints, carpets, glues and gases can lead to cosmetic problems in the home as well as mild to severe health problems. New homes with airtight footprints need functioning sources of ventilation more than older homes. Older homes tend to have a certain amount of airflow that comes in around the windows and under doors. This airflow generally helps with ventilation by bringing fresh air into the home. The benefit of an airtight home is that it’s easier to regulate heat and conserve energy. The downside is a malfunction in the ventilation can be more harmful than in other homes.

You may have noticed that bathrooms have fans and vents in them. This isn’t just to aid in privacy or the removal of odors. Bathroom vents help move moisture that builds up during baths and showers out of the home. Without vents moisture build-up can result in peeling paint, mold growth and deterioration of drywall. Moisture from a bathroom can also seep into the walls and ceilings of the room causing damage to other rooms in the house as well.  The cosmetic damage may only cost a several hundred dollars to fix, but mold growth and spores can lead to health problems that include respiratory symptoms, nausea and vomiting and more. Dampness in the home can lead to an increase in house dust mites and fungal spores, which can trigger allergies.

In most kitchens you will find a vent over the stove that pulls odors out of the home. Not only does the vent remove odors, it also transfers gases from the stove and steam out of the home to prevent moisture and gas build-up. Every year people die from carbon monoxide and gas poisoning in homes. Venting your stove while you cook can help prevent harmful gases from building up in the home.

Wood burning fireplaces that have malfunctioning flues or chimneys with excessive buildup of creosote can lead to smoke filtering back into the home. Smoke from wood fires can “trigger coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and lead to lung cancer and premature death, among other health effects. This is because wood smoke contains fine particle pollution, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, black carbon and air toxics such as benzene. The wood smoke can increase particle pollution to levels that pose serious health concerns both indoors and outdoors. In fact, fine particle pollution (PM2.5) is so tiny that it can get deep into the lungs, harming the lungs, blood vessels and heart,” according to the American Lung Association.

Having proper ventilation in a home is one of the items covered in a home inspection. If you suspect improper ventilation in your home or if you have an older home where the fans don’t vent to the outdoors, we recommend having a professional come and assess your home. Stay safe and maintain proper ventilation in your house for your safety and the safety of your family.

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