Sick House Syndrome

Home Inspector with Pillar To Post® Professional Home Inspection

What Causes Sick House Syndrome?

Sick House syndrome occurs when a house can't "breath" to rid itself of indoor pollutants, resulting in poor indoor air quality - a "sick house."  Indadequate ventilation allows pollutants to build up, causing potential health risks to the home's occupants.  Young children, the elderly, and some chronically ill persons are most susceptible to the effects of Sick House Syndrome.

Common sources of indoor pollution include tobacco smoke, certain carpeting materials, furnaces, fireplaces, candles, pressed wood cabinets and furniture, and household cleaning products.  Moisture build-up, although not a pollutant itself, can also be harmful in a house as it can cause mold growth inside walls, crawlspaces, and other areas.

How Can Indoor Pullution Be Reduced?

Source control is usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality.  In some cases, eliminating the specific sources of indoor pollution - for example, removing carpets, and repairing or maintaining furnaces - may be all that is necessary.

For offending substances such as tobacco smoke, cleaning products, and moisture buildup, improving ventilation is a key means of decreasing indoor pollution.  Many newer homes are so well insulated and sealed that only a very limited amount of fresh air can get in.  Effective ventilation requires the home to have a complete air change every three hours.  In this situation, using attic or window fan and opening windows when weather permits are easy and inexpensive ways to increase ventilation.

More hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead do not normally cause problems if they are undisturbed, but these and other dangerous substances should be analyzed by a qualifies professional to determine if encapsulation, abatement, or removal is warranted.

Comments (2)

Richard Goates
Apex California Realty - Redding, CA
Broker 01251781
And don't forget to change the air filters on a very regular basis! The high effeciency ones greatly help on the indoor air quality as they remove many of particles that one breaths on a daily basis.The higher the number the better.
Feb 02, 2007 10:33 AM
Curt Swearengin
Restoration Construction Team - Tampa, FL

Great Post Kelly:

Thanks for the information. I was beginning to think it was my deodorant. Thanks again keep up the good work.

Curt Swearengin

Feb 02, 2007 04:15 PM