There is a second storm that comes some days after the winds have quieted and the waters receded. It approaches quietly, and you will hear little about it on the evening newscast. Yet the damage can affect health and property as certainly as any other tropical phenomenon. It’s name is not Homer, Irma, or Jose – it is called “indoor air quality.”
Few homes are 100% water-tight in the face of the high winds that force water through even the smallest crevice. Most building materials (wood, concrete, stucco) are permeable and will allow minute amounts of water to penetrate. How much water is not the issue – biological growth requires only a thin film of moisture (think, condensation on a glass). The process can begin in as little as 48 hours. Once the humidity from outdoors enters the home, if it is allowed in contact with surfaces for several days, growth may begin.
How Much is Too Much?
The greatest concern is when growth occurs as visible black splotches, particularly on drywall and other porous surfaces. A rule of thumb is, up to 10 square feet of biological growth can be handled by most homeowners. Up to 30 square feet requires added precaution in the form of protective equipment and careful procedures. Above that amount, and a professional mitigation company should be contacted. Thankfully, unless you had water intrusion into your home and were without power and air conditioning for several days, these scenarios are unlikely. If you do suspect biological growth, contact a professional trained to deal with it.
The Musty Odor
If your power and air conditioning have been out of service for more than 3 days, there is a strong possibility a “musty” odor will appears within a week. Quite likely you will never see “patches” of growth that need to be cleaned, yet the quality of the indoor air is affected. Something must be done. The first rule is: eliminate the source. Carpeting and porous furnishings that have absorbed moisture are suspect, and should be cleaned or discarded if they are sources of an offending odor.
Your HVAC System
Your air conditioner may be a possible source of the problem, and also a possible solution. Let’s look at the problem side first. New equipment and even older, well-maintained systems are likely not a source of odors. But equipment age and condition may adversely affect indoor air quality. Dust and debris inside older equipment and ducts provides food for biological growth – just add water! Any equipment (new or old) not properly installed and tuned for optimum performance may allow humidity to exceed safe (>60%RH) limits. Older ductwork may hold an accumulation of dirt and animal dander left by previous residents. Again, the rule is: eliminate the source. The skilled technicians at Complete Comfort can make recommendations for service, cleaning, or replacement to suit your need and your budget.
The UV Solution
Nature keeps biological growth in check by clearing the air of particles (through rainfall) and irradiating the air with sunlight (particularly the UV spectrum). Complete Comfort recommends high-efficiency particulate filters and UltraViolet light treatment by SolaceAir to accomplish much the same thing in your home’s air conditioning system. The video below explains it best. Call Complete Comfort at 561-529-6262, and we will show you how to make the air in your home pleasant to breathe.