Air Pollution in Your Home

Pollution Indoors

air pollution
Adequate ventilation and good air distribution are important.

In our cities, the air we breathe is not clean. Coal plants and factories belch out harmful CO2, trucks and cars spew filthy exhaust fumes. Many families in our cities rely on coal and wood fires for heating and cooking. On the outskirts of the city, cows and other farm animals add methane to the mix. Sometimes just looking out your window at all the pollution may be enough to make you stay indoors.

Staying indoors

The degradation of indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor pollution. Pollutants can build up more in the much smaller closed up area of your home. They may not be ventilated to the outside.

You may think indoor air pollution does not apply to you. In addition, you don’t live near a highway, farm or industrial plant.  You don’t smoke and you don’t use a wood-burning stove. However, the air you breathe may still be polluted.

Some very surprising sources cause indoor air pollution:

  • Your house itself.
  • The land on which your house is constructed.

Furthermore, we spend a large portion of our time indoors. Indoor pollution can then becomes a serious concern.

Side effects of air pollution

Some side effects of indoor pollution is maybe a little worse than the common cold. However, pollution can lead to coma, lung cancer and death if you are exposed over a long period. Continue reading “Air Pollution in Your Home”

Stormwater

Homes without Gutters 

stormwater

 

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If you are like many homeowners, you have probably wondered why some houses have no gutters to provide protection against stormwater. You may have wished your own home had none because of the cleaning and maintenance issues.

Gutters are not required by law on a sloping roof. Many modern homes have none, even in instances where they would benefit by having them. There are alternatives that architects sometimes prefer such as concrete paving around the perimeter of your house.

In order to decide for yourself whether rainwater gutters are necessary for your home, it is best to first learn what the building regulations require.

The Building Regulations do not require roof gutters and downpipes if another suitable means of drainage has been provided to remove or disperse rainwater from the roof away from your home.

However, the Building Regulations do require that any stormwater that flows from your roof or any area that is in the immediate vicinity of your home must not cause damage to the interior of the building, its structure or its structural elements. The regulations require steps to be taken to ensure that stormwater does not accumulate in a way that“unduly inconveniences” you as the occupant of your home.

Furthermore, the system used must:

    1. not undercut the foundations by erosion or flooding
    2. drain stormwater away from your home
    3. not allow stormwater to accumulate against or close to the external walls
    4. make provision for the drainage of any areas on the property where water pools
    5. be capable of being easily maintained and cleaned

Continue reading “Stormwater”

A Smelly Shower

Smells in your shower

shower

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Often what happens in a shower, while the tiler is tiling the floor, is that excess tile adhesive and grout is washed down the shower drain. As a result, some of this grout may be lodged somewhere in the drainage system causing a blockage.

The following may have happened:

  • Either the trap or drainage pipes were damaged during an attempt to unblock the drain.
  • Grout is lodged in the trap and drain pipes.
  • The stub stack vent valve may be below the level of the highest plumbing fixtures on the drainage system in the bathroom.  As a result, the lowest fixture, such as the shower P-trap water seal may be syphoned out of the shower trap.

Of course, a combination of all three may occur as well. Unless the shower trap or drain pipes are damaged, you should be able to handle the cleanup yourself.

Mould in the P-trap

If your shower drain smells musty, you most likely have active mould growing underneath the drain cover. But, if your drain smells like rotten eggs or sewage, you’re either smelling bacteria from a clogged or dirty drain or sewer gases that have escaped from your drainage pipes.

As part of their metabolic process, active mould spores release a gas that has a distinct musty smell. In addition, the gas can be dangerous. If inhaled, it can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. Continue reading “A Smelly Shower”

Clean Your Gutters and Roof Now!

Leafs and debris in your gutters

Spring has arrived at last! However, you should have inspected and maintained your gutters and roof by the end of winter. But, if you haven’t, you better do so now! They may be clogged with leaves, debris and dust.

The flow of rainwater may be blocked or restricted in the gutters and the downpipes. They will overflow!

gutters

Your roof’s structure is or will be damaged!

Gather up your ladder, a plastic bag, your hosepipe and get busy. If you don’t, the timbers supporting your gutters may soon look like this!

gutters

If your roof does not have gutters installed, the roof structure probably has damage to the feet of the roof trusses. Check under the eaves of the roof for moisture damage before it’s too late.

roof structure

Consider installing gutters before the roof timbers rot and fail. If they have rotted the repairs will be extensive and expensive!

Check your roof and gutters

Cut back trees and branches that deposit leaves and dead wood on the roof. Remove any debris from your roof. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a good roofing contractor to get the job done. This should be a priority. Debris prevent the free flow of rainwater off the roof! Roof tiling and roof sheeting are not 100% waterproof. These roofs are water-shedding systems rather than waterproofing systems.

Flat roof
Debris and dust on roof sheeting retain moisture which eventually results in the deterioration and corrosion of the roof.

Tiled roofs

Check your tiled roof while you’re up cleaning your gutters! Check for broken or cracked roof tiles, dislodged tiles and cracked mortar on the ridges and hips.

gutters
If the hips and ridges of your tiled roof look like this you need to have your roof inspected and repaired!

Foot traffic easily damages the tiles on your roof. If you walk on your tiled roof you will probably cause some damage. Also, consider the safety aspect! A fall from your roof can result in serious injuries and even death. Roofing specialists should repair any defective or broken tiling

Continue reading “Clean Your Gutters and Roof Now!”

Leaks at Window Sills

Moisture Intrusion at Window Sills

window sills

During many property inspections, I keep coming across moisture problems associated with water leaking into window sills and at windows.

Moisture absorbed into brickwork and plasterwork causes them to expand slightly. When the brickwork and plasterwork dry they contract slightly. The water absorbed by the bricks and plasterwork usually causes a slight vertical crack at the edges of the internal window sills. The paint then starts to bubble along the vertical crack. This crack may continue around the length of the window sill before you notice it. What started out as a small vertical crack then becomes a horizontal crack along the bottom of the window sill on the interior face of the sill wall.

The cracks are usually not significant unless allowed to continue unabated.

Rising Damp

Sometimes the moisture intrusion at sills are mistaken for rising damp! Water leaking in at the window sill may bypass the damp proof course (DPC) built in under the window sill as a water-resistant barrier. The moisture may then appear as bubbling paint or crazing cracking of plasterwork, or both, below the window, extending down to floor level.

On external face-brick walls, this may appear as efflorescence (a white powder).

Internally, this may appear as bubbling paint above the skirting or discolouration of the skirting itself.

How do you prevent the moisture intrusion into window sills?

Continue reading “Leaks at Window Sills”