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Understanding IAQ Testing | Ask This Old House

In this video, This Old House home technology expert Ross Trethewey teaches host Kevin O’Connor what he needs to know about indoor air quality testing.

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Kevin O’Connor and home technology expert Ross Trethewey meet back at the shop to talk about air quality. With today’s homes becoming more airtight, Ross explains it’s important that the air inside the home is safe and healthy. Ross shows Kevin some handy devices to check air quality, allowing homeowners to better evaluate their own living space.

Houses are Getting More Air-Tight
With a focus on energy efficiency and comfort, today’s homes are becoming more and more airtight. The trade-off for energy savings and efficient insulation is that these homes now trap contaminants and chemicals inside the building. For this reason, IAQ (indoor air quality) requires attention.

While the Homes are Air-Tight, They’re Anything But Static Inside
Most people believe that homes and their interior conditions are static, but that is the opposite of the truth. The interior of a home is dynamic, with ever-changing conditions based on the residents and the outdoor climate. Acts like cooking, showering, heat adjustments, number of guests, warm spells, cold spells, and more affect the conditions in the home.

Dynamic Interiors Require Monitoring
Since the interior of the home is prone to change, it requires monitoring to ensure that the air quality is healthy and safe. Indoor air quality tests check for proxies like temperature, humidity, CO2, Radon, particulate matter, pressure, and volatile organic compounds. Monitoring helps detail the conditions inside the home.

These readings are important because they can change dramatically over time. For example, a home might pass a Radon test when new or uninhabited, but with dynamic changes due to occupancy or changing conditions, Radon can reach unsafe levels. Monitoring can catch this.

There are Devices Available for DIY Monitoring
There are devices that homeowners can purchase to monitor the IAQ levels. These devices are about the size of a standard thermostat and can measure all of the necessary indicators. This data then translates to a computer or tablet for easy tracking over time.

While these devices don’t help the homeowner pinpoint the causes of the issue, they can indicate when the homeowner should call an expert for testing.

Where to find it?
With an air quality monitor, Ross demonstrates how a few simple changes can change the air
quality in a home. If interested in testing your home’s air quality, Ross suggests selecting a
monitor with multiple sensors. Some of the most common proxies tracked for indoor air quality
include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, Total VOCs (volatile organic compounds), particulate
matter, temperature, humidity, and radon.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Understanding IAQ Testing | Ask This Old House

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