Is Your House Suffering From Bad Breath?

guardian air
Photo courtesy of Broan of the Guardian Plus

Do any of the following situations apply to your house? Your house has a stale smell to it, and you long for spring when you can open up your windows again to try and air out the house.  Perhaps, for  some strange reason, you feel so much better when you are not in your house.  How about this situation? Your headaches or allergies seem worse during the winter months, but you are not sure why.

Think about it.  Since you have made your house more energy efficient by making it less drafty, your family has symptoms like those described above.  If  any of these scenarios sound like your situation, your house could be suffering from an indoor air quality problem.

“In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors,” according to the EPA.

With all the talk about climate control and making our house more energy efficient, how do we achieve adequate ventilation at the same time creating energy efficient homes?  When I built my house, it was built extremely tight.  The entire exterior walls were full of Icynene®, a foam insulation.  Every crack in the house in which a credit card could fit into had to be sealed with silicone pursuant to energy star rules.  So, basically no pollutants could get into my house and no pollutants could get out of my house.  My house was built like Fort Knox. 

  ”Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants…

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.” Via the EPA’s Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality  

How do you know if your house has a problem?

“Signs of Possible Home Indoor Air Quality Problem: 

  • unusual and noticeable odors, stale or stuffy air
  • noticeable lack of air movement
  • dirty or faulty central heating or air conditioning equipment
  • damaged flue pipes or chimneys
  • excessive humidity or condensation
  • tightly constructed or remodeled home
  • presence of molds
  • health reaction when inside the home, especially after remodeling, weatherizing, installing new furniture, using household or hobby products or moving into a new home.
  • feeling noticeably healthier outside the home ” (Healthy Indoor Air America’s Homes)

  If any one of the above symptons applies to your house , check with an indoor air quality professional to see if you should have your house tested.  Can not find a name in the yellow pages?  You can check with the Indoor Air Quality Association, Inc for names in your area.  Note, that anyone can join IAQA if they have an interest in indoor air quality and the Association does not make any representation as to the quality of work of these professionals.

We installed a Guardian Plus made by Broan.  I chose this product because it is three products in one:  a whole house HEPA, fresh air ventilation system, and heat recovery.    The fresh air ventilation system changes the air in the house a certain amount of times a day so that there are fewer indoor air quality issues in the house.   The HEPA portion filters the outside air so that pollen and other allergens are not brought into the house.  The heat recovery part of the unit prevents fresh cold air from coming into the house. 

This product was cheaper than installing a whole house HEPA and an Energy Recovery System separately.  It is very easy to maintain.  All I do is change the filters every six months.

 So, why suffer with a house that has bad breath? Ventilate it!

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  1. 2

    Green Talk says

    Readers, Sharon of is posting about a comment I made on her site about countering global warming with trees.

    Her website is good resource for urban moms. What is a urban mom? Sharon explains on her “About” page

    “New urban moms choose:

    To live in a community that supports employment close to home or entrepreneurship.

    To live a “Green Lifestyle” and appreciate a community that makes living “Green” possible.

    To live in a community that celebrates culture, social interaction and activities that build and enhance family and community life.”

    Sharon, thanks for your post on my comment! Come back and visit soon and share your experiences on being an urban mom.

  2. 4

    Green Talk says

    Kathryn-do you use any particular air purifier and what oils do you use? Where do you put the oil and how often? Anna

  3. 5


    HI , great info.. thanks.. I just wish that more offices took the time to investigate what kind of air they are circulating. I think it is a liability thing. they would rather allow sick buildings than admit any kind of mistake. I look forward to more great posts, thanksl

  4. 6


    Indoor air quality is not only important for your physical health but also for your success in life. The Feng Shui Practice of getting rid of the piles of papers and magazines you are going to read someday and airing out your home will not only remove the stuffy and stagnet air but put more life in your home.


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