I want to provide you with a look at some of the features to look for in a healthy home.
These are some suggestions for building a home to be as healthy as possible in the long term. You can also apply some to existing homes or renovations.
Capillary Break: Using granular fill, waterproof coatings, rigid insulation, proper drainage, and water sealing under foundations. This prevents water from moving up into the house from the soil, and from condensing on cool foundation walls, which could lead to mold growth.
Windows: High efficiency windows with properly installed flashing allow energy savings, less condensation in winter, reduced drafts, and direct water away from the house.
Radon protection: Installation of sub-slab pipe is inexpensive at the time of construction, and should be considered standard proceedure in Maine, where radon can pop up in lots of places. Retrofitting to reduce the harmful gas is more difficult, but you should test your home and follow suggested guidelines.
Tight Construction, Vapor Permeable Walls, Exhaust Fans: Air sealing with advanced insulation can prevent moisture problems, reduces mold growth and leads to lower utility bills. Vapor permeable walls, such as those found in old houses with plaster and lathe, allow interior vapors to escape. If vapor is restricted, it will push through most walls with little difficulty, condensing on the cooler exterior surface and allowing mold growth. Be careful when retrofitting insulation in homes that do not have advanced air sealing. In any cases, whole house exhaust fans can insure proper vapor transfer, fresher air, and healthier homes. Heat exchanger models allow energy to be saved when cooling or heating.
Appliances: Carefully choosing among Energy Star rated and sealed combustion appliances keep harmful fumes to a minimum, particularly dangerous carbon monoxide, and offer energy savings compared to other models.
Humidity Reduction: Central humidifier systems help keep humidity below 50%, which reduces the chance of mold growth and dust mites.
Interior Finishes: Using less sheet goods like carpet and vinyl, and choosing goods with lower VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds), will be more healthy. Less carpet also means easier to clean, so dust build up will be at a minimum. Look out for unhealthy Ureic Formaldehyde based glues in cabinetry, flooring, and many surprising places like furniture.
Making as many decisions toward healthy and green as you can is my recommendation. Homes are complicated systems using a great deal of energy and resources, and it is hard to make a perfectly healthy house. Make the best choices for yourself. Ask me for listings of homes for sale in Maine that are healthy and Green. 207-592-2420. www.mikemorgenstern.com