A Lesson In Indoor Air Quality


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Every parent hopes that their children are happy, healthy and safe. There is no greater anxiety to a parent than an ill child. When my son, Noah, was just a few years old I noticed a rattle in his chest while he was sleeping. Certain that he was suffering from pneumonia; I rushed him to the doctor who diagnosed him with asthma and sent us home with a nebulizer.

Noah has suffered from allergies and eczema since he was six months old. He was still too young for allergy testing, and I personally did not like the idea of using a steroid cream on my toddler. My husband and I decided that although we could not cure Noah’s allergies, we would do what we could to reduce the allergens in our home.

We were quite certain the usual allergy suspects were to blame: dust, dander and pollen. My husband and I both work for a residential air conditioning contractor and decided we should use what we have learned in our careers to address our own situation. We formulated a plan to reduce our son’s allergies at home.

The first step in our plan was to remove every inch of carpeting from our home. Not only does carpeting hold particulates, but we were quite certain that our son was allergic to the carpeting itself. We replaced it all with tile and hardwood.

Our next step was to reduce the humidity in our home. Keeping relative humidity below 50% reduces dust mite growth. Getting humidity below 50% on the Gulf Coast of Florida was a pretty tall order, but we were able to achieve our goal through a combination of improvements. The first was in our equipment selection. We replaced our air conditioner with a system that utilizes a dual-speed compressor, variable speed air handler, and communicating thermostat to lower humidity. We then used Aeroseal to seal the duct work in our home which allowed us to reduce the infiltration of uncontrolled, humid, unfiltered air in. Thirdly, we sealed a large hole under our shower floor around the drain that was allowing air to come into our home between the shower and wall cavity. The combination of these efforts allow us to now keep our home at 48% humidity.

Our final step was to install an air purification system that produces hydrogen peroxides by using a ultraviolet light and zinc as a catalyst. This system also has an ionizer to charge air particulates such as dust and pollen, forcing them to clump together enough to be more easily filtered.

In the two or so years that we have implemented our plan, Noah has not needed his nebulizer. Did we cure his allergies? Of course not. He still has eczema breakouts depending on temperature and what he has been exposed to. But our efforts to improve our own home has him breathing easier, and that has me breathing easier too.

Jolene Methvin
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Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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