Essential Indoor Air Quality Tips

By Mike Holmes Jr

Mike’s Advice / Home Safety & Maintenance

Thursday, April 16th, 2020 @ 10:04am

Did you know that the air inside you home can be 2-5x more polluted than the outdoors? This is why indoor air quality needs to be on the top of your mind when thinking about your home. From volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radon, mold, formaldehyde, and more, there is a lot to think about when considering a healthy indoor air quality in your home. It can have a significant impact on your health. Here are some indoor pollutants that contribute to indoor air quality problems:

Test For Radon Gas

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from uranium (that is found underground) that turns into radium and then it turns into radon gas. 

Radon gets into your home through your foundation, crawl space or basement via cracks, drains, sump pumps, and even in your water (if you are on well water). Radon is the number one cause for lung cancer for non-smokers. You can’t see, smell, taste, or hear it and yet it is not code/law to have a radon detector or mitigation system in your home. 

Unlike carbon monoxide, radon makes you sick from long term exposure in your indoor environment – and you won’t feel its negative effects. The good news is it is not too late to test for it and take action on radon. 

There are many options to test your home for radon. The first one that I suggest is ordering a Radtrak2 tester.


The Radtrak2 tests your home for radon over a period of 3 months or more, giving you an accurate reading of the levels that you and your family breathe in. 


Check out radon testers and mitigation solutions from Radon Environmental Corp. They have short term and long term monitoring, testing and building solutions for your home. 

Once you have tested your home for radon, you are ready to take the next step of contacting a professional to install a radon mitigation system or who can advise you on the next steps that you should take.

Mold Contributes to Poor Indoor Air Quality

Mold can be a major contaminant in your home and you don’t want to breathe it in – in any quantities. Mold can be frequently found in moisture heavy spaces like your kitchen, bathroom, basement but there are a lot of areas that mold can grow that you may not see like behind your walls. Whenever we combine organic materials (wood, drywall etc) with water/moisture, and oxygen we have the potential of growing mold. This is why it is so crucial that we build quality homes to prevent hot/cold from meeting, that creates condensation which causes mold to grow behind the walls. 

In areas like your bathrooms, it is important to use products like Kerdi/Kerdi Board and Ditra made by Schluter Systems to waterproof your bathroom properly.

By waterproofing your bathroom, you prevent water getting beneath your tiles and going elsewhere in your home, attacking your building materials and creating mold and rot. 

We know mold is not good for our health, especially for people with compromised immune systems, autoimmune diseases, and allergies, but it is also not good for our homes. If you have a water leak, it can lead to the rotting of integral structural components of your home which can compromise your home’s integrity. 

Building with Air Quality In Mind

From a building perspective there is a lot we can do to prevent mold growth. This is why we always talk about building better. This includes thermally breaking your homes, waterproofing your bathrooms, using a subfloor system with a moisture barrier in your basement and so much more. We need to focus on building starting from the outside and working your way in. The good news is you can buy test kits online to test your indoor air quality for mold and send them into a lab to get your results and find out how much mold is actually in your home.

Every home will have some level of mold spores, but as long as it’s not a large amount (unlike in this image), you don’t need to worry.

Take Steps To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

As a responsible homeowner, there are several things you need to think about to have good indoor air quality in your home: 

  • Testing your home for radon and mold to make sure you and your family are safe. 
  • Checking your furnace filter! Most furnace filters need to be changed every couple of months, if your filter is clogging up sooner than that you may want to consider having your ducts cleaned. 
  • When choosing paints, stains, oils, finishes in your home, try and use a zero VOC or low VOC finish.
  • Prioritize your renovations and build from the outside first. 

Proper Ventilation In Your Home

With all of these factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality, proper ventilation and air circulation in your home is key. Having an Heat Recover Ventilator (HRV) installed in your home can help you in so many different ways that you may not be aware of. An HRV exchanges stale air in your home with fresh, treated air from outside of your home.


Get to know your HVAC system

If you have high levels of VOCs – which can be found in carpets, furniture, paints, aerosol cans etc), formaldehyde, and radon, an HRV will actually help you bring cleaner air in your home. You may also want to consider using an air purifier in your home to help clean the air that you are breathing in. 

Having good indoor air quality in your home is integral to keeping you and your family safe and healthy. We spend approximately 90% of our time indoors, so it makes sense that this should be at the top of your priorities list.


Check out the latest episode of Holmes @ Homes where I answer your questions.

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