4 Common Air Polutants Gathering in Your Home (And What to Do About Them)

Clean, high-quality indoor air is vital to our health. So, it may surprise you to know that the air in your home may contain pollutants at higher levels than outdoors. How does this happen? Well, there are many ways that contaminants and toxins can be brought indoors or produced inside and held in the air that you breathe. Here are four common air pollutants that may be gathering in your home and what to do about them.

1. From the Outdoors In — Radon

Uranium is present in many soils, and as it breaks down, it forms radon gas, releasing it into the atmosphere. Radon’s radioactive properties make it a contaminant to be excluded from the home as much as possible. The gas is implicated in thousands of lung cancer cases in smokers and non-smokers every year.

Radon typically enters homes through cracks and holes in the foundation and gaps in walls. Poor ventilation can then allow the gas to build up to dangerous levels. Radon exposure occurs in every US state.  

How to Remedy

While you cannot eliminate radon from your home, you can reduce it to safe levels. Inexpensive home testing kits are an easy, quick option to show the amount of radon in your home. An unsafe gas level is four picocuries per liter of air (4 pCi/L) and above. Professional technicians can seal problem areas in the house and install venting systems to bring radon to a safe level.

2. The Dangers of Particulate Matter

Eliminating and reducing common air pollutants in your home is a constant chore. This is especially so if you have an open fireplace or use unflued gas or kerosene heaters. As fuel burns, it releases what’s called particulate matter — a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles floating in the air. Smoke, soot, and ash, for example, are frequently found in particulate matter.

When these noxious chemicals are inhaled, they are detrimental to health, especially those who suffer from respiratory illnesses, such as asthmatics.

How to Remedy

You can minimize particulate matter caused by burning fuel by making sure fireplaces, chimneys, and flues are regularly inspected and cleaned. Air duct cleaning is also important in maintaining good air quality in your home.  

3. Molds are Common Air Pollutants

Molds travel through indoor and outdoor air constantly, and in low concentrations, don’t usually cause health problems to people. However, if they find a damp, dark area in your home, attach themselves, and start growing, then that’s a different matter. Mold can spread rapidly, covering large surface areas and damaging the underlying material they are growing on.

From a health perspective, molds can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.

How to Remedy

Mold can be removed with water and detergent and wiped or scrubbed off the surface. Vinegar can also be used by spraying the affected area, leaving for an hour, and then scrubbing off. However, to permanently stop mold, you must find the source of the dampness and fix the cause. For example, if a leak causes the moisture, get that repaired. If the air in your house is too damp, then improve the ventilation and consider investing in a dehumidifier.

4. Inhaling Dust Mites Cause Allergic Reactions

A common cause of allergies in many people result from exposure to dust mites. These microscopic spidery bugs feed off the skin shed by people and burrow into household dust, bedding, carpets, and other fabrics. They are present in most homes, breeding quickly in warm, humid environments.

While live mites themselves aren’t usually in the air we breathe, their waste and dead body parts are. It’s these particles that are inhaled and trigger allergies and asthma.

How to Remedy

The prevalence of dust mites makes them almost impossible to eliminate. However, their numbers are reduced by keeping humidity in the home low. Cleaning sheets weekly, airing blankets and bedcovers, and reducing dust levels in the house will help significantly. Certified asthma and allergy vacuum cleaners can trap more airborne particles stopping dust mite waste from getting into the air.

Local Air Duct Cleaning in North Virginia

The duct and filter components of HVAC systems operate to trap airborne particles, remove stale air and exhaust air and moisture into the outdoors. Therefore, one of the most important ways to eliminate or reduce common air pollutants is by regular air duct cleaning.

You will receive expert peace of mind service by engaging Six Penny Chimney in North Virginia to inspect and clean your chimneys, fireplaces, and HVAC air ducts. Get in touch for a free quote and speedy service to meet all your expectations.

Neglected Masonry Work

5 Devastating Scenarios If You Keep Putting Off Neglected Masonry Work

Bricks, mortar, and stone are excellent building materials from aesthetic and functional viewpoints. Properly constructed, homes built from these resources should have a long life, providing robust protection to their residents for many years, even centuries. However, like all homes, upkeep is necessary to maintain the exterior in top condition. The damage from natural weathering exposure to the elements can lead to severe and even lethal outcomes if put off for too long. Make sure that these five devastating scenarios from neglected masonry work don’t happen to you.

1. The Most Serious Problem with Damaged Masonry — Falling Bricks

A terrible outcome that can result from delaying repairs to damaged masonry is that the structure collapses and bricks fall to the ground. Whether it’s a wall, chimney, or other supporting structure, a single solitary brick falling from a height can quickly kill anyone unlucky enough to be struck by it. Imagine the emotional turmoil and guilt you would feel if a family member or passer-by was seriously injured or killed. So it’s a good reason to tackle any noticeable problems with stone or brick constructions sooner rather than later.

2. What Can Go Wrong with Retaining Walls?

Masonry retaining walls often suffer from failure due to the initial design. The soil and water load that the wall needs to keep back is often not adequately calculated. Consequently, the pressure on the wall can cause significant cracks, bulging, and eventual collapse.

As many retaining walls are built on property boundaries along public walkways and roads, an outward collapse can result in a devastating scenario. At the worst, pedestrians can be injured or killed. Private and public motor vehicles may be damaged, as could be public infrastructure. If you’re going to put off neglected masonry work repairs, check your property liability insurance cover. You could face a hefty bill!

Call in brick and mortar repair professionals to fix this problem. They’ll examine the structural design and advise you whether part of the wall can be repaired or will need a complete replacement.

3. Large Cracks in House Walls

Another problem with damaged masonry is the development of large wall cracks from small untreated cracks. These large cracks in walls can happen for several reasons. More minor untreated cracks can let in water, damaging joints and degrading the mortar holding the bricks together. This neglect causes bricks to loosen and the small gaps to expand over time. Bulging of the wall may occur with subsequent collapse. If left to get to this stage of disrepair, remediation work will be costly.

Foundation problems can also cause large cracks. For example, the roots of nearby large trees can damage the foundation. Earthquakes or floods can severely impact the house foundation as well. These types of events cause large structural cracks in the walls and can even result in the house being labeled as ‘condemned’ by local authorities.

As it can be difficult to tell the cause of the large masonry cracks, opt for professional inspection as soon as possible. If underpinning work is necessary, the earlier it’s treated, the less expensive the repairs will be.

4. Chimney Collapse from Neglected Masonry Work

Chimneys require regular annual maintenance. Continual exposure to wind and rain weathers away the mortar, and bricks can be damaged by debris. Brickwork can collapse, falling into the chimney shaft where it may block dangerous gasses from escaping out of the home. Once a fire is lit, it can cause the gasses to be forced back into the household atmosphere, which can be deadly. Crumbling mortar and falling bricks from the roof can also cause injury to passers-by.

It seems like a high price for simply failing to schedule an annual chimney inspection and cleaning.

5. Walkways

Another problem with damaged masonry often happens with stone and brickwork walkways. Soil shifting around and in between the path, heavy rains, and flooding, can cause dislodgement of paving. It’s easy for an accident to occur when walking on an uneven pathway. Just a toe or heel catching a loose or overhanging paver can cause a stumble, trip, and fall. And an awkward fall on a hard surface can easily result in broken bones or worse, particularly for frail older people.

Prevent and Repair Chimney Collapse with Expert Masonry Repairs

At Six Penny Chimney, we provide high-quality chimney cleaning and masonry repair services. If you have a home in North Virginia in need of chimney repair, get in touch with us. Our expert staff can also fix brickwork problems in patios, walkways, and retaining walls.