Ask the ed­i­tor

Q: What steps can we take to build a healthy tim­ber home?

Timber Home Living - - Build -

A:

Ac­cord­ing to the Healthy House In­sti­tute (healthy­hou­se­in­sti­tute.com) we spend about 90 per­cent of our time in­side our homes, so cre­at­ing a healthy in­door en­vi­ron­ment is of ma­jor im­por­tance to a lot of peo­ple. Keep your home’s in­te­rior fresh and fit with these six hints for cleaner in­door liv­ing.

1. Start with low-VOC stains and sealants. The chem­i­cal makeup of the stains and sealants you use on your tim­ber frame has an im­pact on the air quality of your house. Man­u­fac­tur­ers like Sashco, Weather­all, Perma-Chink, ISK Bio­cides, Struc­tures Wood Care and CTA Prod­ucts Group pro­duce log and tim­ber sealants that are free from the volatile or­ganic com­pounds (VOCs) that can pol­lute in­door air and cause res­pi­ra­tory is­sues in peo­ple and pets.

2. A whole-house hu­mid­i­fier, in­stalled by an HVAC pro­fes­sional, will add mois­ture in the win­ter months, which can re­duce any­thing from al­lergy and asthma symp­toms to dry skin and static shocks. For those with ma­jor al­ler­gies, look into a whole-house air pu­ri­fier, which sucks in the air, re­moves con­tam­i­nants through a HEPA fil­ter and re­leases the clean air back into the home. 3. De­sign-wise, try to in­cor­po­rate win­dows on more than one wall to en­cour­age cross-ven­ti­la­tion. Make sure your gut­ters and down­spouts drain away from your foun­da­tion to prevent mold and wa­ter is­sues. Also think about de­sign­ing a mud­room or util­ity room, which will isolate tox­ins (pes­ti­cides, mold, etc.) you may track in from out­side.

4. When shop­ping for a fire­place prod­uct or in­sert, con­sider a sealed-com­bus­tion gas hearth. These units draw out fumes and tox­ins from in­door air. Boost your in­door air quality fur­ther by in­stalling a fan on top of your chim­ney to im­prove cir­cu­la­tion. If you opt for a wood-burn­ing hearth, make sure the wood is dry and sea­soned to min­i­mize cre­osote, which can re­lease poi­sons into your air (as well as start a chim­ney fire).

5. Use your bath­room fans and kitchen vent hood re­li­giously. They are de­signed to re­move hu­mid or toxic air from your home, re­duc­ing the chance of mold or other pol­lu­tants.

6. Make sure your HVAC unit is in good work­ing or­der with an an­nual inspection, and keep your fil­ters clean and fresh by re­plac­ing them twice a year. Dirty air fil­ters are one of the big­gest cul­prits that ruin your in­door-air quality, not to men­tion ham­per­ing the ef­fi­ciency of your HVAC sys­tem. If left unchecked, they will raise the cost of your monthly en­ergy bill, as well as jeop­ar­dize your health.

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