More than 50 million Americans experience different kinds of allergies each year, from pollen, mold, dust, insects, and other allergens. Allergic reactions can range from relatively harmless to life-threatening, and they are considered the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. It’s possible for what seems like a simple reaction to escalate to something severe. Furthermore, it’s not unheard of to suddenly develop an allergy to something you had no trouble coming into contact with before.
This is why many people make great efforts to ensure that their homes and daily surroundings are allergen-free, protecting themselves and others—especially those likely to have severe allergic reactions.
It may surprise many to know that A+ Insulation plays a role in helping people defend their homes against allergens as well: by providing assistance with DIY spray foam insulation.
Allergens and Air Quality
Most people don’t realize that there is a connection between allergens and your insulation. It has to do with the indoor air quality of your home. Indoor air quality refers to the cleanliness of the air found inside the rooms of your residence. And just like the air outdoors, it can become polluted, dusty, and filled with potential allergens.
Many homes have HVAC systems that filter out dust and other allergens, improving air quality. However, indoor air pollution can still accumulate. When there are too many pollutants, you’ll notice that the air in your home starts to feel hotter and even smell different..
The most telling symptom of poor air quality is worsening respiratory health. For example, residents of a home with poor indoor air quality may develop coughs and colds more often. Individuals with asthma may start getting attacks more often, and those with allergic rhinitis may start to sneeze more, for seemingly no reason, especially in the mornings.
All this could lead to exacerbated symptoms of typical allergies and worsening lung conditions. In the most severe cases, poor air quality can go as far as causing lung cancer or death.
The Role of Insulation
Where does insulation come into play? Insulation is an excellent way to reduce the risk of developing poor air quality indoors. Installing appropriate insulation regulates indoor temperature and improves the overall air quality of a home.
This is because the airflow of a home is taken into account when designing a house. Particular focus is placed on natural light, heat, and the flow of fresh air.
If you live in a place with a climate that requires fireplaces, some homes close off specific rooms so heat can stay in living areas. At the same time, there is very little to no carbon monoxide risk. Warmer climates do the opposite, ensuring that the home has plenty of fresh air flowing indoors, naturally cooling the house.
And these temperatures get preserved through the use of insulation. With the correct form of insulation in your home, you can prevent outside air from seeping into your home and compromising the air quality as well as altering the temperature. Any air that flows through the house and HVAC system can be controlled, and insulation acts as a filter, preventing contaminants from entering your living space.
Even dust, dander, and other airborne particles are stopped by insulation at the surface level, especially if they come in from the outside. It defends your home’s air quality, acting as both filter and regulator.
How Poor Insulation Affects Air Quality
These benefits can only be achieved if the insulation is properly installed and safety standards are adhered to. On the other hand, poor insulation can affect the air quality of your home just as adversely as a pollutant. This is why it’s important not to cut corners when installing insulation.
Poor temperature control
Because insulation is supposed to regulate temperature, poorly installed or low-quality installation can make homes too stuffy or too cold. It can no longer assist the HVAC in maintaining temperature control.
Excess moisture increases
The performance of insulation decreases with time. But one of the worst things about old insulation is that it cannot withstand moisture. During hurricanes and storms, it will start absorbing moisture and essentially become useless. The water depletes heat-resisting qualities in most types of insulation.
Furthermore, this causes the insulation’s resistance against mold growth to rapidly deteriorate. Mold can spread throughout the insulation and release airborne spores. Mold allergies are one of the most common in the US, and they could cause people inside the house to experience a range of symptoms.
These include sneezing, postnasal drip, coughing and wheezing, and watery eyes. For people with asthma and allergic rhinitis, sneezing could become unbearable.
Increase in pests
Birds, rodents, and, most importantly, insects will become more drawn to insulation that isn’t properly sealed or installed, making their homes there. These pests can introduce dangerous particles, bacteria, and viruses into your home. And because they live in the insulation, it will be very easy for these particles to get into the HVAC system and start circulating throughout your home.
Also, many people are allergic to specific insects and rodents. They are at risk of an allergy attack if these pests start living inside their homes.
It’s crucial to keep replacing outdated insulation and to have new insulation installed correctly. Doing so ensures pests do not have the opportunity to start nesting in it.
Increase in VOCs
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are introduced into the air when poor insulation degrades. This concept is familiar to homeowners who have heard of or experienced problems arising from vermiculite insulation that contains asbestos.
Though modern insulation has advanced to the point that it’s completely safe, its degradation through poor installation or quality can result in poor indoor air quality. It starts to fall apart and release dust particles and organic particulates into your home’s airflow.
These particles result in highly exacerbated asthma and allergy symptoms. If you have an old home, you should replace and reinstall the insulation.
Bacteria, Dust, and Odors
Because of the presence of mold, there will also be more bacteria found on surfaces around the house. These bacteria can cause several health risks. These include but are not limited to respiratory distress, skin irritation, and even disorientation.
The HVAC system also starts being unable to filter the particles. The released dust and odors around the house will continue to circulate for a lot longer, and you and your family will be breathing it in more often. Even if you clean frequently, if these particles and bacteria continue to circulate, you’ll likely continue to experience symptoms.
Other Common Sources of Pollutants Around the House
This is an odorless and colorless gas. Appliances and equipment inside your house that burn fossil fuels (fireplaces and car exhausts are the most significant sources) produce carbon monoxide.
In high concentrations, carbon monoxide is incredibly toxic to the human body. It depletes the body’s oxygen. People exposed to carbon monoxide feel dizzy and nauseated, often finding it difficult to breathe. If they’re exposed for too long, they might experience vomiting, pain, disorientation, and even death.
This is a significant concern for homeowners who live in houses that are at least 30 years old. Radon derives from the trace amounts of uranium occurring naturally on earth. While many local and federal building codes typically enforce restrictions to protect homeowners from radon in their homes, older properties were likely built before these regulations were put into place.
If you or your family members smoke, there’s little to no chance that traces of cigarette smoke will ever leave the home. Smoking also introduces tar and nicotine into the air. The result is the familiar yellowing seen in smokers’ homes. It occurs when smoke seeps into the walls and insulation. Stains resulting from cigarette smoke are very difficult to clean.
More worryingly, cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, many of them harmful. You don’t have to be allergic specifically to cigarette smoke to have your health negatively impacted by exposure to it. Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke, even secondhand, can result in minor symptoms, such as irritation to the eyes and through, as well as severe effects, such as cancer and heart disease.
Particles in cigarette smoke also accumulate and clog the HVAC filter, resulting in inferior indoor air quality.
Protect Your Home and Family from Allergens
Correctly installed insulation, especially when made of quality, professional-grade materials, is a significant benefit to your home’s air quality. It acts as a defense against so many types of common allergens and even helps your HVAC system keep your home’s air quality clean.
However, the biggest risk comes from poorly installed, low-quality insulation. This doesn’t just fail at maintaining your home’s temperature—it may also endanger your and your family’s health. This is why it’s of the utmost importance to carefully check the licenses and expertise of the professional that you’ll hire to install your insulation. Quality performance yields quality work.
A+ Insulation has been helping improve the indoor air quality of homes across Kansas City for years through top-notch insulation solutions. Our team of experts can answer any of your questions about the type of insulation you need, how we’ll install it, and where your home needs it most. Get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation inspection of your home. You may also read about our services here.