How to find out if the air in your home is making you sick

dsneed@thetribunenews.comFebruary 7, 2013 

Is your house making you sick? If you live in an older home with a forced air conditioning system, your home may well be making you ill, according to local contractors and building experts.

These experts have teamed up with the San Luis Obispo County Planning Department to put on a series of monthly healthy home clinics to get homeowners the latest information on the health issues related to indoor air quality.

The seminars are held in the San Luis Obispo City-County Library meeting room from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on mid-month Thursdays. The next three seminars are Feb. 21, March 21 and April 18.

The most common problem is leaky ducts, which can introduce carbon monoxide and fiberglass and asbestos dust into a home. The most common symptoms are sneezing when the furnace is turned on or a feeling of being allergic to the house.

“There is a public health issue with these houses,” said Bruce Severance, a local building contractor and energy analyst. “It’s primarily found in homes that were built from the 1950s to the 1980s, with forced-air systems installed before 1978 being the most hazardous.”

The seminars cover a variety of topics about indoor air quality as well as a question-and-answer session at the end. As much as $4,500 in rebates is available for repairs, and the work often results in additional energy savings, Severance said.

The group SLO Green Build has conducted as many as 80 home energy audits over the past two years and found that more than 80 percent of homes have indoor air quality problems. The county estimates that of the 117,000 single-family homes in San Luis Obispo County, about 99,000 have leaky ducts.

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