1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

September 24, 2008

:268 Prescriptions for a Healthy House

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:268 EcoTip: When building, remodeling, or reconstructing after a disaster consider using the least toxic products available. Prescriptions for a Healthy House, A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders, and Homeowners has specification language, construction tips and advice as well as lists of resources and non-toxic products that can help accomplish this goal during construction.

 

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September 12, 2008

:256 Mold and Water Damage

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:256 EcoTip: With the United States being pummeled by more hurricanes this year than since 2005 – the year of Katrina – it is time to look at some of the lessons learned. A January 20, 2006 CDC report examined the knowledge recovery workers had regarding personal protective equipment and mold. The paper cites evidence that exposure to mold and damp buildings can have adverse health complications.

Over the next several days my tips will focus on this and other lessons learned from Katrina that can be used during any construction activities whether it be due to catastrophic damage such as from tornadoes or hurricanes or a routine home upgrade or repair.

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Suggested Review:

This is the first in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

According to CDC:

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the literature regarding health outcomes related to damp indoor spaces (4). In addition to the risk for opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromised persons, IOM found sufficient evidence for an association between both damp indoor spaces and mold and upper respiratory symptoms (nasal congestion and throat irritation) and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, wheeze, and exacerbation of asthma).

Basic mold awareness training and training regarding cleaning small areas of mold is available on-line at http://www.restcon.com/training.restcon.com/MAT/index.php

For more information about how to protect your home – check out my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home

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September 5, 2008

:249 Remodeling Air Flow Control

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:2489 EcoTip: Controlling air flow by creating a negative air pressure in the remodeling zone can help prevent dust from traveling to other clean parts of the home – especially when used in combination with a dust curtain in doorways and other openings (:248).

Caution when you create a negative pressure you may cause back drafting of combustion appliances – so read tips :113 and :114 to learn how to safeguard against accidentally causing this very dangerous situation when following this 1:5:10:365 Ecotip.

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Suggested Review: :039, :040, :113, :114, :248

A simple way to create a negative pressure in the remodeling area is to seal a box fan into a window so that it will blow outside. Use quick release tape and polyethylene plastic (if necessary) to seal the fan to the window so the air flow must go through the fan and not around it. Allow a cross ventilation to bring fresh air into the work area from the opposite side of the room. This make up air should be enough to allow good ventilation but not so much that the negative pressure is lost. You can check negative air flow and pressure visually by using the techniques discussed in :039 and :040. In this case you want an air flow from the outside of the building into the work area. A puff of test smoke placed at the dust curtain should not travel into the clean parts of the home, but should be pulled into the remodeling area. As noted above in the caution – you don’t want the negative pressure in the construction area to create a back drafting of you hot water heater, fire place, furnace or other combustion appliances.

This is serious stuff. If you don’t understand how to use air flow controls with a dust curtain safely – don’t do it because it could cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if done improperly.

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September 4, 2008

:248 Dust Curtain

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:248 EcoTip: A dust curtain is another name for a containment barrier that can be used during remodeling and construction to help isolate dust and debris to the work area so that it is less likely to travel throughout the rest of a home. A dust curtain is simply a sheet of polyethylene plastic that is sealed at doorways to prevent the construction dusts from passing. Ideally you will enter and exit the construction area directly from the outside to help avoid tracking dust and debris through the home. Dust curtains work best with air flow controls – which is the topic for tomorrow.

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Suggested Review: :0247

Taping polyethylene plastic directly to painted and other sensitive surfaces with duct tape can damage them when the tape is removed. Affixing the plastic with quick release tape (the special blue or green tapes) typically doesn’t have the strength to hold up by itself. To keep the plastic in place – afix 2″ or 3″ quick release tape to the wall around the door then use duct tape to adhere the plastic to the quick release tape. This will provide a stronger attachment for the dust curtain without causing the same degree of damage. You can frequently send the plastic to a recycling center when your done.

If there is a door present you can use the quick release tape to seal the seams and skip the plastic.

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September 3, 2008

:247 Remodeling Dust

Filed under: :247 Remodeling Dust — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 7:27 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:247 EcoTip: During remodeling and construction activities dust and debris can travel throughout the rest of a home making quite a mess. These dusts can also have adverse health impacts – especially for people with allergies, asthma and other respiratory difficulties. Regardless of health – its still a mess and takes a lot of time to clean up. Over the next several days my 1:5:10:365 EcoTips will show you ways to help reduce and control this dust.

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April 7, 2008

:098 Durable Buildings

Filed under: :098 Durable Homes — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:22 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:098 EcoTip: The durability of our home is important for conserving resources. Constructing disposable buildings using cheap construction materials and techniques loads our landfills with waste and taxes our resources.

banta1.jpg Photo Credit: NOAA

Tomorrow I begin to talk about a major weak point in modern construction. 

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Additional Information

This is the first of a series of 1:5:10:365 EcoTips taken from a chapter in my new book about protecting our homes titled – Extreme Weather Hits Home.

The following is excerpted from my new book Extreme Weather Hits Home.

“Home builders used to construct buildings that would last for a long time. For example, when I visited England to teach a class about mold remediation I was able to take some time to tour northern England. During the trip it quickly became apparent that craftsmen in England knew how to build for longevity. One town, named Kirkwhelpington, stands just a short distance from the Scottish border. It is a small village made up of stone masonry structures. The oldest buildings in town were the church and the vicarage, which were probably completed in the early 1200s. Today both buildings are fully functional and will probably be around long after most of the buildings that are currently built in North America have turned to rubble. Most of the town was made up of buildings that were over a century old. These buildings had a character and age that deserved veneration. Repeatedly, I heard owners express with pride the attitude that when they moved into one of these historical buildings they were gladly accepting the role of a short-term caretaker and guardian for a building that would be around much longer than the people that inhabited them.”

Extreme Weather Hits Home, Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change

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