It won’t be long before windows are closed and heating systems fire up for another season of heavy use. That’s when indoor air quality issues can intensify for homeowners. Late summer and early fall bring a new wave of pollen producing plants and closed windows mean less fresh air. For allergy sufferers, it’s a double whammy.
For home inspectors looking to broaden their horizons with ancillary services, here’s why air quality inspections might be a great fit.
Fall and Winter Bring More Allergens Indoors
Spring is the classic time when allergies flare. With plants springing back to life, the pollen count adds up. Damp conditions also encourage mold and mildew. But fall and winter are no friend to people with air quality sensitivities.
In many parts of the country, ragweed starts blooming in August and peaks in September, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. While air conditioning filters out some of it, pollen can hitch a ride indoors. The rainy season that some states go through every year contributes to mold and mildew.
Every season has allergens, but spring, fall, and winter tend to hit allergy sufferers hard. If the home isn’t designed with good ventilation, allergens get trapped indoors. With poor air filtration, more particles are free to tumble through the air and cause a sneeze attack.
Poor Ventilation Can Make Matters Worse
When the weather cools off, fewer homeowners raise windows. Ventilation can suffer, especially in milder in-between seasons when air conditioning isn’t necessary and it’s not quite time to use heat. That’s when air gets stale and more allergens build up indoors.
If the homeowners have pets, or the previous owners did, pet dander can cause an allergy flare. Dust mites are a problem, too, as are dropping from vermin that scurry around at night. Dirty houses might not be your specialty, but they affect indoor air quality.
Perhaps one of the greatest health risks that accompany poor ventilation is radon. It’s undetectable by sight or smell, but radon detectors can find it and measure the volume. In many cases, additional ventilation designed for radon remediation can make the home safe again.
Homeowners Have Several Options for Improving Indoor Air Quality
For homeowners concerned about what they breathe, the list of potential hazards is almost endless. Fortunately, there are lots of solutions, many of them available on a DIY level. Air purification systems that work either in tandem with or independent from the main HVAC system can trap more particles for cleaner air.
If you test for radon and find an unhealthy level, homeowners have a few choices. Remediation systems typically seal points of entry for the gas while improved crawl space ventilation lets more gas escape before it enters the home. According to Inspection Perfection in Colorado, a typical ceiling fan can reduce radon by as much as 95 percent.
In serious cases, you might find an abundance of lead, which is more problematic if there are children in the home, and damaged asbestos materials, which are dangerous for everyone. Depending on the severity, homeowners might remove or seal the material or they might need a remediation crew.
With more tightly sealed homes, especially in fall and winter, indoor air quality can take a serious hit. What homeowners gain in energy efficiency, they may lose in clean, fresh air. As a certified home inspector, your services can help spot problems such as mold, asbestos, radon, infestations and a general lack of housekeeping. Armed with that knowledge, your customers can freshen up the air and breathe easier, at least until they step outside next pollen season.
Home inspectors are limited to general inspections just prior to the sale of a house. Every homeowner has certain concerns about health and safety at home. With indoor air quality inspections as an ancillary service, you can inform your community about more potential hazards and drive in a little more business.
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