Tiny Home Air Quality

columbiascSeptember 13, 2011

Hey folks, just dropping by to scan a few posts.

Although I've always been enamored by smaller homes, I never really gotten too cranked up on anything smaller than about 400sf standalone or smaller than 250sf attached like apartments. That has nothing to do with this post, just some background on me. While surfing another site I ran across an interesting article by a Heating & Air Conditioning contractor that I think bears sharing here. Especially as fall closes in on us.

Smaller homes have air quality challenges. That problem expands exponentially as size decreases. Just sayin'.

See what the expert has to say and give it consideration.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tiny Home Air Quality

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Scott, this was a good article, and good comments followed it. I was saved (as were my DH, his dad, and our three dogs) by a CO alarm. My sis-in-law had Dad-care duty that evening, and my DH and I must have been out. Sis-in-law must have gotten cold, and turned on the furnace. Seemed reasonable to her, I imagine. What she didn't know is that we were nursing a 29 year-old furnace, waiting for our previous house to sell so we could replace the furnace. I would never have turned on the heat until I had the furnace inspected, and Dad had a space heater in his room (and we had a heated mattress pad). We did not hear the furnace come on while awake, and did not notice it was turned on. At 3 in the morning, DH heard the CO alarm and went to see what it was. I heard him, and woke. I grabbed the phone and we gathered up Dad into his wheelchair with some blankets around him and got out. I called 911 from the front porch, then went in for our dogs. I was just putting them in the car when the FD arrived. They measured the CO as very dangerous in the basement, but we were able to return to the house and sleep after the house aired out for a while. They condemned the furnace. We had a new one in a couple of days.

I also want to remind folks of some dangers they may not be aware of. Non-stick pans, when heated past a certain temperature, release toxic fumes. Unfortunately, some people learn this when their pet birds die. The saying
"canary in a coal mine" exists for a reason. A bird will be affected by no-odor gas and will die while the air is still good enough for the miners to make an escape. I won't have non-stick items in my house. I could not understand why the George Foreman grill and other pans for cooking at high heat are made of non-stick. It makes no sense to me.

My next concern is not really associated with indoor air quality, but does involve cooking. When microwaving, please do not use unapproved plastic containers. The plasticizers - petrochemicals that keep plastics from being brittle - mimic hormones in our bodies. They are called "endocrine disruptors" for that reason. Some believe that they cause problems when our bodies react to them as if they were our own hormones. I have glass dishes and lids for storage and reheating of food. I also use waxed paper instead of plastic wrap in the microwave.

I am quite sensitive to the products of combustion. They set off my asthma. So nothing is burning in my house. I never understand why having a lit fire is so important in camping or having a gathering outside. There is a whole lot of life I don't get to participate in because lit wood, charcoal and gas fires are involved. I can feel the sucky moisture of gas fires in my lungs. I cannot tolerate a gas stove, even burning natural gas. Thanksgiving was always at my house, since I cannot go to a house where a gas oven is cooking the turkey.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 12:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, Scott. Glad to see you post.
I've been concerned about air quality for many years, first because I had a lot of parrots, and then because I realized that it can kill you silently.

And Nancy. The PTFE (poly tetra fluoro ethylene) is the stuff in just about everything these days. On the bottom of irons, inside the drip pans of cook tops, hair dryers, you name it.
Also, a study prompted by a young girl's science project has revealed that the chemicals in our dry cleaned clothes is carcinogenic (knew that already) but that it stayed there and was a cumulative effect. And WOOL was the worst at releasing these toxins. Of course, radon is present in newer homes because they are sealed much better than old homes.

When we bought the stucco cottage, it had a heat pump but no service contract for it. So that was one thing I did before we turned on the heat that winter. Twice a year they come to check it out. Better than waking up dead.

Oh, about PTFE. It is a horrible death for birds. Autopsies performed on birds after a flock has been killed by teflon fumes shows it dissolved their lung tissues. And it does not have to really overheat. It just has to get HOT. I have only one pan that is a teflon pan, my big pancake grilling pan. Now that I have just two parrots and they are nowhere near the kitchen, I can use this pan. But I still have to watch my DH when he cooks bacon, because he always overheats every pan. He is not really a "bird person," so I have a hard time educating him.

And, I'm thinking they have to keep an eye on the nano coatings on toddlers clothing, because of their tender sensitive skins. Remember all the problems with formaldehyde in carpet, or in furniture products too, and that it killed some folks before they set up regulations concerning it. Air quality was bad in some hirise apartment buildings because of carpeting.

For my money, I'd want to have the EPA and the FDA keeping all those big corporations honest, and not letting them give more money to the super wealthy at our expense.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 2:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Scott, good to see you posting here again. That was a good article, and subject that I have been nagging dh about for several years. I sent the link to him to read. We have an unvented gas fireplace and I want it out so badly. Some day dh may go on a hunting trip and come home to find it gone.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 11:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Houseplants are known to help improve air quality.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h110indoorair.html

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 3:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good point Scott. Guess there is one good thing about manufactured homes. There is an air ex-changer set to run a certain amount of hours a day. I forget now how many. I do not even notice it running much any more. I used to hear it always. A person gets used to the normal noises. I am sure it is working because when it does not there is also an alarm on it.

We also try to open a window or door in winter when ever possible. Doors and windows always open in summer as we use a swamp cooler.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oldgardener, I guess if house plants make the air better, my Teahouse will have the best air around. I really feel GOOD after spenting time in a greenhouse too.

Shades, about the swamp cooler. Down south where we have lots of swamps, we cannot use swamp coolers. Isn't that strange? But out in the bayous where I would boat, I've seen that the camps there (the ones with power), frequently have a lawn sprinkler sitting up on the metal roofs. Like the corrugated tin of old style roofs. I guess they have the water hose stuck in the bayou and a pump somewhere near the roof to lift the water that high. Since doors were open, probably no air conditioning otherwise. That is what I thought was a swamp cooler.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 5:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL ML. REAL swamp cooler. Never knew they did it that way. We have had metal roofs on all our Idaho houses. Easier for the snow to slide. I have been known to hose down the roof to make things cooler on a hot summer evening.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 1:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To sort of broaden the subject of air quality, when we redo our roof...which will have to be soon, unless a hurricane comes along and takes the old one....we will be changing from asphalt shingles to standing seam metal. A dull silver, not the shiny silver. At least I am thinking that. We have home owners insurance with State Farm, and the metal roof we choose will be picked from a list of brands/models they approve for hurricane areas. That way, they'll pay more WHEN it gets damaged. We already have super high insurance rates because of our location south of I-10 in Alabama. (We live in neverneverland I think). And losses have to be in excess of 10% of the value of the home before they start considering the excess for a claim. And then to keep it financially possible, we set our limit another several thousand dollars higher. I forget the exact mumbo jumbo. The cheapest thing we have to pay is the flood insurance to the gummint, and I'll never be without it. That is all that paid when our house was destroyed in Katrina. Home owners paid less than $2K for what was a total loss.

I was noticing some video footage of the fires raging out west. Speaking of air quality. (cough cough) The roofing material was not flammable to sparks etc, but there were leaves in the gutters and the valleys on the roofs, and that caught fire, overheated the roofing material, and then the whole house caught fire. Even a metal roof would not save the house in such conditions. So clean out those gutters if you have them.

We had a poster here about 2 years ago who was rebuilding her home in the mountains out west somewhere, after a fire destroyed the first one. Do you remember what I mean? And I'm wondering now how they are doing. A small home too, lots of windows. Great views.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 10:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oldgardener- My mom always has lots of plants and said they're very good for the air.

ML- I'll bet your tearoom is a wonderful place to spend the day...all that oxygen, at least in the daytime :)

As for fires, you have to be very careful with our hot summers and not a lot of rain. Green belts are very important and if you live in amongst the pine trees, everyone is told to keep pine trees (and their needles) away from the roof and not too close to the house. I'm glad we have fields, but we water a lot around the house!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2011 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lavender, you mentioning a "green belt" around the house brought back an image of my grandparents' farmhouse yard when I was a little girl. They only had well water, by a pump, because TVA had not brought electricity to north Alabama rural areas yet.

I thought about my grandma every morning taking a homemade brush broom and SWEEPING the yard around the house. No grass. None. And the chickens were free range, of course, so keeping it clean was not simply removing leaves. Grandma had some lovely roses, but nothing planted near the house. Besides making snakes highly visible, the bare ground served to protect the house from brush fires. Yes, she had a washpot out back that she boiled her laundry in every monday, so being safe from fires was not just an idle measure. And she cooked on a wood stove as well. I think it must have been a local custom to keep bare yards, because neighboring houses were all bare grassed too.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 12:20AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Organizing the kitchen
Do you wish your kitchen was better organized? I do!...
Moved in my smaller home today!!!!
Hello!! I just introduced myself this week; I'm the...
Who has blogs...can we see them?
I know there's some disappointment with the new format,...
It's Thursday....right? Let's have tea :)
Another Thursday (had to check the calendar to make...
Getting older and keeping up
Just reading Stephs recent post about getting help...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™