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Indoor Air Quality: What it is and Why it Matters

Indoor air quality

Customers breathe easier when they know about issues that affect their indoor air quality and can address them.

As a home inspector, you don’t issue a rating or measurement for a customer’s indoor air quality. However, some of the systems that you inspect have a direct effect on it. There was a time when air quality concerns were limited to keeping down dust and other allergens and airing out paint fumes during home improvement projects. But today, there’s a greater focus on healthy homes. Through your work, you can help make customers more aware of issues that affect air quality, and encourage them to find experts who can help resolve them.

Mold Comes From Dampness

Any home with a chronic dampness problem is likely to harbor mold. And a home that’s experienced an acute issue, such as a flood or broken water supply line, might also contain the spores.

Not every mold is a dangerous variety, but they can all trigger an allergic reaction. Where there’s mold, there has been water. Finding the source, whether it’s a plumbing leak or weather event, helps the customer know how to address it. Because spores can live almost indefinitely without dampness, customers might also need guidance toward abatement instead of cleaning with bleach and hoping for the best.

Radon Can be Anywhere

There’s a misconception about radon. Some people believe that older homes are more susceptible, but that’s not the case. Any home, even one that’s brand new, can have high radon levels because the gas originates in the soil under the house, not inside the house itself.

The byproduct of decaying uranium, radon gas inside the home can have serious, long-term health effects. Most home inspectors aren’t radon specialists, but ICA School gives you the materials to add this inspection to the services that you offer.

Carbon Monoxide is an Immediate Hazard

Unlike some air quality issues that take a while to affect a person’s health, a higher level of carbon monoxide (CO) is considered an emergency. CO is produced by combustion. That means anything from the home’s fireplace to its kitchen stove or HVAC unit could be to blame.

Faulty burners on a gas appliance and evidence of a poorly functioning fireplace are just a few of the many home defects that can raise CO levels. And although smoke and CO detectors are typically outside the scope of a home inspector’s job, too few detectors or a total absence of them is reason enough to alert the customer.

Indoor air quality

Ductwork can harbor insect and rodent droppings, mold and other impurities that affect indoor air quality.

Improper Ventilation Holds in Impurities

The ventilation in a home is what allows it to breathe. If there are air quality hazards present, their levels might be higher if there’s little ventilation or the vents are blocked by anything from a bird nest to overzealous attic insulation.

Inadequate ventilation is reason enough to suspect air quality issues. Some homes have ridge vents, some have turbines, and some have soffit and eave vents. Most homes have a combination of those. If your inspection reveals that there are too few vents or the existing ones are inadequate, your customer could hire a contractor to correct the situation.

Air quality issues come in numerous forms. Sometimes they’re not harmful until they’re disturbed. That’s the case with intact asbestos floor or ceiling tiles and old lead paint that’s been painted over or sealed. If the customer knows they’re there, he can take steps to protect himself. And sometimes they pose an immediate hazard. Information about them can encourage the customer to opt in for a specialized inspection, such as one for termites and other insects that leave harmful droppings that contaminate the air.

At ICA School, we encourage all of our students to gain as much knowledge about homes and home systems as possible. That’s why we include with your tuition over 200 pages of e-books and reference material on the topic of air quality. You might not give customers an air quality rating. But you can identify obvious hazards and home defects that raise the suspicion that hidden hazards exist.

Home inspectors have an important job, and that’s informing customers about hazards and defects that exist in a house. There are a lot of fine details to cover, which is why we offer a comprehensive, online course. Enroll now, and you could start working toward your new career in home inspecting today.

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