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7 Habits of Highly Effective Indoor Air Quality

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Growing up the son of a contractor, I refused entrance to major universities thinking, “Oh I know, I’ll start a business.” My dad’s business was in northern Minnesota where working on a light pole in negative 30 degree weather no longer seemed appealing. The year was 1984 when I moved my little family (at the time) down south where we nestled into Dalton, GA and began passing out flyers for “Best Electric,” my new company. Not long after, Best Plumbing was added. I bought an HVAC company in 1995 and spent the next 3 months ruining it.

Years of experience lead to expertise, and by the summer of 1998 I was paid exactly $10,000 to solve a customer’s air quality issues in their home. Her husband would get sick every time they spent the night in their own home! I made it my responsibility to find out why, which eventually lead to a nice average sale of $35,000 every time I repeated the process.

The seven habits of highly effective indoor air quality are the result of 15 years of seeking answers as to why my clients were getting sick in their very own homes. And these steps are also the result of doing free home inspections in 5 states for over 10 years. I learned from detailed interviews with hundreds of families on “what are the symptoms the human body experiences” when something inside the home begins to poison them.

Why should you do IAQ? If not you, then who?

The habit of understanding that buildings are flawed

  1. There are very few buildings that do not have at least one smoking gun.
  2. Your job gets easier when you find the guns.
  3. What is really going on and why – constant curiosity about buildings and bodies.

The habit of understanding environmental infiltration

  1. What is the environment and how much of it has access to the occupants?
  2. What is directly causing the problem?
  3. What is sustaining the problem?
  4. What will cause the problem to return?
  5. This is also known as the habit of denying access to pollutants.

The habit of 3rd party credibility

  1. Remember that you have limitations. You may not be a doctor or scientist, and let’s face it, you also probably do not have time to become one, at least not in time to help your client.
  2. Use 3rd party credibility like “proofs” in mathematics, try to prove or disprove facts and findings.
  3. Example: Government websites. Free information for you to use and quote, “EPA – after testing hundreds of air duct systems in America in new homes and existing homes has determined that the average air duct leaks 38%.”

The habit of harnessing the power of physics & common sense

  1. Hot goes to cold.
  2. High pressure goes to low pressure.
  3. Wet goes to dry.

The habit of meditation/thinking (*seeing, if you will) through the building

  1. Realize that you do not have to pretend to understand and know everything. Spend time truly THINKING through the problem to find solutions.

The habit of constantly learning about the human body

  1. The most accurate test instrument is your customer’s body and its reactions to the home.
    • Pollutants
    • Irritants
    • Allergens

The habit of “true empathy” with your client

  1. Here is where the keys to the problem will be hidden, and many contractors will never even come close to finding them because they will not go far enough.
  2. Your customer is uncomfortable, and you are there to help

Steps to Correction:

  1. Find and eliminate the sources of the problems.
  2. Clean, purge, remediate, and treat for immediate and long term effects.
  3. Contain the environment you wish to control.
  4. Change the environment you want to control: heat, cool, humidify, dehumidify, filter particulates, and infuse fresh air.
  5. Maintain the environment.
  6. Follow up: the real test is the effect on the building and its occupants.

Pricing your work:

  • Begin with a plan and adjust it after you have some experience. Costs of the work should be similar to the following:
    • Equipment purchased and installed.
    • Labor to fix, repair, clean, treat, and install.
    • Chemicals and equipment to apply chemicals.
    • Materials used to do the work.
    • Personal protective equipment, respirators, gloves, Tyvek suits.
    • Remediation equipment if needed, temporary dehumidifiers, filters, water extractors, etc.
  • When you are working outside of the box of normalcy there are reasons not to be cheap.

When to walk away:

  • If you can’t help or they can’t afford the fix.
  • When the problem is too big, or problem is too bad.
  • If the liability is too great.

You can become an expert in Indoor Air Quality. Time hones your expertise, difficulty directs your expertise, passion deepens your expertise, and persistence solidifies your expertise. Opportunity will be the reward of your expertise. Good luck!

Rodney Koop

Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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