The Effects of Renovations on your Home’s Air Quality

August 28, 2014

Renovating one’s house is as exciting as it can be daunting.  While most make sure to put a lot of thought and consideration in to the looks, materials and appliances that will encompass the newly redone house, one heavily overlooked area is the impact a renovation may have on the home’s air quality.

One of the main reasons for this poor indoor air quality, during and in the months following renovation, is the introduction of many new products and materials.  Since these products and materials are new, they will release chemicals that were used during manufacturing.  This is called “off-gassing”. These chemicals will often build up in the packaging while sitting on the shelf in a warehouse or in the store.  This is normal for any new products or materials, even those that are labeled as ‘green’ products.

Here is a checklist to ensuring better home air quality while renovating your house:

  1. Bring as much fresh air as possible into your home during and for a few weeks after renovation.
  2. Try to schedule renovations for a time of year that makes it practical to leave windows and doors open for extended periods.
  3. Air out new furniture and carpets or rugs for a few days before bringing them into your home if possible.
  4. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for using paints, caulks, sealers, etc.  Pay attention to whether these products are designed to be used inside or outside and how long before they will dry, set, or cure.
  5. Do not use an ozone generator or similar equipment during or after renovation to reduce odors.  These systems may damage newly applied or installed materials.
  6. Try to contain dust as much as possible during renovation.  Close doors or tape large plastic tarps around areas where you are doing demolition or any other activity that generates dust.  Do not run your central air system until the majority of the dust has been cleaned up or it will spread to other areas of your home and coat the inside of your ventilation system.

Use this checklist before, during, and after your renovation to make sure that your air quality returns to a more normal level as quickly as possible.  Consider sampling your air for VOCs and formaldehyde before and after renovations to see how much of an effect the renovation had and if additional actions are necessary to protect your family.