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Indoor Air Quality and Your Basement

The movement to go green and conserve has gained momentum and attention to the point where the federal government offers tax credits to homeowners and businesses using green products to make improvements to their property and to reduce their carbon footprint. The idea of going green is not new but in our recent history, technology and science have increased awareness. Learn more on A-1 Certified Environmental Services, LLC.

We are making improvements to our homes in an effort to reduce our footprint, such as better ventilation of the roof, energy-efficient windows and doors and higher efficiency HVAC and filtering systems. We have tightly sealed our homes to save electricity and rising fuel costs, and our footprint has been diminishing. All of these things are good, but your home still has to breathe, and short of living in a bubble with some kind of Jules Verneian re-breathing unit, the air you breathe inside has to come from outside … and what’s in it?

Using electronic filters and air purification systems can improve the quality of the indoor air, but the fact remains that the impurities that exist are airborne until they are filtered and therefore still present a risk, and do you consider all the sources of these impurities?

Your basement may well be the “sleeping giant” in this initiative to improve indoor air quality. It has been said, “There are two kinds of basements …… those leaking, and those leaking.” Patching cracks and filling holes is an expected part of home ownership, but few of us consider sealing the basement properly in order to keep out what is.

Weeping walls, leaking rod holes and standing water from base and footing change allow moisture to reach the home, which increases moisture and spawns mold (which becomes airborne before filtering) and significantly reduces indoor air quality (increasing health risks). Another invisible culprit affecting the air you breathe in your home is radon gas. Radon is a natural gas produced from oxidation of the soil. The amount of radon in the soil is geographically dependent, but it exists in all soil. It [Radon] is a carcinogenic, odourless, colorless radioactive gas.

The first line of protection against mold , mildew and Radon gas is proper sealing of your basement. You can test your home for radon gas (or get it tested), and there are devices available to seal off the gas from your living room. Illinois based manufacturer Emecole manufactures and distributes a variety of cellar sealing products specifically designed to mitigate radon gas. For your area you can find a professional, licensed contractor who can check your basement and seal it off.

If you are considering finishing your basement to gain living space, you should first “prefabricate” it by properly sealing it against infiltration of moisture and gas. If you simply wish to improve the quality of the indoor air, do not ignore the basement. The cleaner the air that comes in, the fewer airborne impurities, the less you have to work with your filters and the easier you can breathe.