Indoor Air Quality FAQ

Want to stop worrying about Indoor Air Quality and Indoor Air Pollution? These answers can help.

Q: What are the leading causes of indoor air quality problems?

Poor indoor air quality is caused by indoor air pollution. This problem has become more acute because we spend more time indoors than in generations past, and because buildings tend to be more airtight, allowing air pollutants to become more concentrated. Inadequate or improper ventilation is often a factor in indoor air quality issues, but many other factors can also be involved.

Q: How can I limit exposure to harmful VOCs in our house?

Fortunately, many manufacturers of paints, finishes, furnishings and cleaning products now produce only no or low-VOC versions of their products. Pay attention to VOC labeling information when shopping and you shouldn't have to worry about this IAQ factor.

Q: I can smell mold in my crawl space, but it's not connected to my living space. Why should I worry about mold?

Your crawl space IS connected to your living space, through hundreds of gaps and cracks around ductwork, plumbing pipes, electrical lines, and building materials. Research has shown that as much as 40% of the air you breathe can come from the basement or crawl space. Microscopic mold spores are transported on crawl air that moves up into your living space by natural convection -a phenomenon that building scientists call the Stack Effect. Instead of hoping that mold in the crawl space won't affect IAQ (it will!), it's better to eliminate this mold source through crawl space encapsulation, dehumidification, and mold eradication.

Q: Our house is very dusty, even though we clean and dust frequently. Where is the dust coming from, and what can we do to clear the air?

Leaky ductwork in a basement, crawl space, or attic can suck dusty air from these areas into the air circulated through the living area by your forced-air HVAC system. Having your ductwork professionally sealed will cut off this dust supply. It's also a good idea to air seal your attic and basement to stop air movement because of the Stack Effect. The warm air that moves up and out of your living space through attic leaks will draw an equal volume of outside air into your basement, creating upward air pressure that can carry dust from the basement to the living areas.

Q: My central air conditioning system can keep the house cool, but there's still too much humidity indoors. What can we do to dry out the air?

Unfortunately, some HVAC contractors still make it standard practice to install oversize air conditioning systems that end up cooling too quickly -before the procedure can adequately dry out the air. When the thermostat calls for cooling, a high volume of cold air blasts into your living space, lowering the temperature so quickly that the thermostat cuts power to the AC unit after a short time. A longer run time is required to remove more moisture from the air, but a large system doesn't provide this opportunity. Modern AC systems feature variable speed and feedback circuitry that moderates performance to optimize cooling and dehumidification.

Q: We've never had standing water on our basement floor, but we've still got moldy wallboard and carpeting in certain parts of the basement. We plan to replace the damaged material, but we're worried about more mold in the future. What can be done to prevent mold from returning?

Mold and indoor air quality

Moisture creates microscopic pollutants. If you can see or smell mold, microscopic spores are in the air you breathe. Some spores are more harmful than others. The best way to prevent mold growth is to dry organic materials (like paper-faced wallboard).

Basements and crawl spaces are naturally moist, even when their floors are dry. Soil moisture is absorbed by the masonry walls and floor and released into the space. You can make several improvements to turn a mold-friendly environment into a mold-hostile one. Air-seal the basement so moist outside air won't infiltrate through cracks and gaps around perimeter walls. Insulate basement walls with rigid foam to reduce the number of cool interior surfaces where condensation can occur. Install a basement dehumidifier to dry the air because mold has difficulty living below 60% humidity. Finally, limit organic materials (paper-faced drywall, plywood floor sheathing, wood paneling, etc.) that will provide ideal mold habitats if they become damp.

Q: What is causing mold in my attic? There are dark mold stains on the underside of the roof sheathing.

This is a common problem in many houses and is most likely to occur during cold weather—heated air from your living space leaks into the attic. When the warm air comes into contact with a hard surface (the roof sheathing), condensation occurs. Because this happens continually during the heating season, sections of roof sheathing stay wet for an extended period, creating ideal conditions for mold to take hold. Attic mold problems worsen considerably if a clothes dryer or bathroom vent fan dumps moist air into the attic space. The solution to these mold problems is thoroughly air-sealing the attic and duct dryers and vent fans to the exterior instead of to the attic.

Schedule an appointment with a Alber Service Company technician

If you think indoor air quality issues may affect your home's health, contact Alber Service Company to schedule an inspection and estimate today! If you live in Marlton, Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill or nearby, we have the solutions you're looking for!

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Alber Service Company
7300 N Crescent Blvd #15
Pennsauken, NJ 08110