Something Does Not Smell Right- Feel Right in this House

Does something not feel feel right about your house? Is there an odd odor that is making you wonder? Maybe you can’t even put your finger on it, but you would like to know what might be happening.

The purpose here is to help you figure out what is happening with your home. We want to help you gain understanding of the fundamental issues involved, help you understand what is happening and help you appraise the risks. We will offer some avenues to real solutions and attempt to help you avoid the greenwash and ill fitting solutions that are constantly pitched at you.

Let Buzz over some symptoms

Is someone in your household sick or not feeling well on a regular basis?
Maybe they constantly suffer from headaches? Do they feel better after leaving the house?
Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies, asthma or breathing difficulties?

You may live in an unhealthy home.

Now you can be sick and unhealthy in a healthy home, but an unhealthy home can make people who are well, feel sickly. In this latter case, efforts to treat illnesses related to unhealthy homes, can be quite frustrating until the problems in the home are addressed.

Homes can be unhealthy and indoor air quality has been associated with a wide variety of ailments in a wide range of patterns. The effects can come years after the issues creating the problems are initiated, and the unhealthy issues arise.

Hints to Help You avoid pseudo solutions that treat symptoms and do not solve fundamental issues in your home.
There is plethora of stuff made up to sell you to make air cleaner, to ionize your air, to humidify, to dehumidity… Many of these things are worthless. Many others are not solving the real problem but treating a symptom. You need a clear perspective on healthy home issues and an understand of the underlying structural and mechanical issues which allow the humidity and moisture conditions that allow  unhealthy conditions  to proliferate. Here is an article about avoiding nonsense solutions.  

The discussion about unhealthy houses starts here.

Do you have an issue with dry air?

Do you ever suffer from dry skin or experience static electricity in your home? Homes in North Texas can be too dry- with humidity too low during the heating system. This condition is caused by air leaks into your home. Cold air can leak in, and lower the humidity of your home to below ideal conditions. Low humidity can trigger allergic reactions and enable other unwanted pollutants in your home. The solution here is not a humidifier, but less air leakage.

Dry air in the heating season turns into high humidity issues in the cooling season as moist hot air leaks in and your air conditioner cools this hot moist air and raises the humidity, making your home muggy. This fluctuation in humidity is related to air leaking into your home. This link talks about air leaks and will lead you quickly to information about humidity and the dry conditions you have noticed and help you understand the issues involved, the risks being taken, and possible real solutions to the problem. And remember, avoid all the bolt on, BS solutions that cost money but do not actually solve problems. 

Do cooking or other odors tend to linger in your home?

Do cooking and laundry odors seem to infiltrate the house? Do you seem to have issues with moisture in the kitchens or bathrooms? Do you have a hint of mildew in the bathroom? Kitchen fans and bathroom fans that are mechanically sound and properly installed, are essential for moving moist air out of the house; but these fans are often out of sight and out of mind, often are haphazardly installed and offer  are crushed and disabled by rough handling in attics or in walls. Sometimes the technology is pretty feeble and easily messed up. We talk about issues with mechanical fans here.

This is a great time to address ventilation and fresh air in your home.

Do you have any idea where fresh air enters your home? Unless you have mechanical ventilation, your fresh air comes in through open doors and windows, but when winter comes, and the hot weather comes, and we are battened down to keep comfortable, the fresh air comes in under sills and around windows and through the crawlspace. We talk about crawlspace below. We talk about where you get your fresh air here.

This is a great time to mention issues with negative pressure in home and potential combustion issues. Once upon a time we had open fires in our homes for heat and the smoke rose up through a hole in the ceiling. But homes have gotten tighter and we can have very powerful fans in our house working to evacuate air from the house. This can cause negative pressure in the house, and  this can cause serious health issues.

Do you have combustion appliances in he house?

Gas fired grills or fireplace? Anything where you are combusting fuel, burning fuel. Negative pressure in these conditions can allow combustion byproducts to linger and things like Carbon monoxide can make you physically sick over long periods of time or even kill you at the right concentration- This can be a problem in even newer houses, where the home is tighter and their is a certain combinations of fans running can create negative pressure. We talk about potential combustion issues here.

If you do not have combustion appliance but you have a tight home, and you have a powerful range hood and or a combination of powerful fans in your home- central vacuuming and such, it just might be possible to draw wafting odors around the house, that might surprise you. You might have issues with make up air needed, to reduce the potential for negative pressure in your home. We talk about the processes- natural and unnatural that act on your home here.

Does your home smell dank or musty, maybe?

Moisture and high humidity are closely associated with molds and mildews that create musty odors. Moist air can leak out of bathrooms and create a mold infestation. Musty odor needs to be tracked down and solved. Rot is often associated with mold as they both flourish in damp spaces. Leaks in roofingleaks through exterior walls, water wicked up through concrete from poor drainage. HVAC duct work issues, and then just plain of air leaks in the summer increase the humidity in homes in North Texas. This is the inverse of the issue with dry air in the heating season. Take a look, gain some perspective on the nature of moisture and how it relates tot he comfort levels in your home.

 Do you have a crawlspace? Crawlspaces can impact your indoor air

Crawlspaces have lots of problems. Lots of really nasty stuff happens in crawlspaces and a good share of your indoor air is likely leaking in here. What dead creature is adding an earthy flavor to that air?

The conventional wisdom is to leave them vented so they will dry out. Well, a humid climate like Texas creates real problems with crawlspaces which are vented. You need to look into this if you have musty issues, if you suspect your home might have health impacts on people and you are getting other signs that you have a dampness problem in the crawlspace… -LINK

Deodorizers and Air Fresheners Do Not Help
You do not want to be masking these kinds of odors with commercial air fresheners. So many people are allergic to these and think that the air freshener is doing something useful. Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies, asthma or breathing difficulties? A more specific conversation about indoor pollution and indoor air quality takes place in our discussion about unhealthy homes. 

Are you feeling uncomfortably warm or cold in a part of the house?

Maybe you are in the den, maybe you are upstairs, maybe you are in an add-on or a bonus room? Is your home too warm in the evening? All these conversations of too hot and too cold all start here. 

Or you can go to a specific discussion about bonus rooms.

Or maybe different areas of the house need different temperatures to fit the human or the purpose of the space. We talk about temperature zones  here. Make sure you sort out the structural issues before you decide zoning is the answer. Fundamental first.

Maybe the comfort issues revolve around an upstairs and a downstairs…  this page is more specific to upstairs and downstairs issues. This page builds on the basic too hot too cold page linked above.  

I hope you found some answers here. Always look for fundamental problems. Always work to avoid bolt on BS solutions that address symptoms and not fundamentals.  We have a list of stuff you might not want to buy, at least until you have the broader issues in perspective.

If you have any questions or comments, add them below. You never know who you might be able to help with just the right story, the right connection, the right inspired thought.

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