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Air quality issue, not sure how to proceed  RSS feed

 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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I have a question regarding air quality, hopefully this is the right place to post. I have noticed over the past 8 months that pieces of insulation have been showing up in my air ducts. We heat with electric and have a wood stove coming soon, but recently I took my first trip underneath the home to check for exposed/frozen pipes and what I saw really raised a red flag as we have children and the heat is on 24/7 to keep the home at 70 degrees. The ducts under the house are broken, insulation coming out, rodent fecal matter and lots of dirt.

Is there a way I can test the air for contaminants, particularly fiberglass? I'm actually just learning that working with insulation is a health detriment due to fiberglass, as I just spent the last day properly insulating the well and pump shed.
Is there a health concern due to the fiberglass factor and wife/kids (including an infant) prolonged exposure to it? If so, is there anything that can be done?
Once the wood stove is installed, is there a way to seal all these vents since we'll likely never use them again?
Should I rip out all insulation and install something more healthy, or will somehow sealing the vents take care of this potentially contaminated air?

Am I overreacting?


 
John Elliott
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What does the main air filter look like? You could put a brand new one in and put a 1"x1" square of toilet paper (just one of the two-plys) right in the center of it, and that would be a decent air sampler for your house. After a couple of days of collection, you would have a sample that you could take to the laboratory and analyze. You can put that sample under the microscope and count for spores, pollen, fiberglass bits and "other". If you want to look specifically for fiberglass, you would have to digest the paper (in a chem lab they use nitric acid) and see what is left behind.

Once the wood stove is installed, you won't be forcing as much air through the vents, and it is the forced air that is carrying all the small particulate matter.

Ripping out insulation is a dirty task; and while you are ripping it out, a lot more of it is getting airborne. But if you hardly ever go under the house, then with the vents sealed off, there won't be a lot of it getting entrained into your household air.
 
allen lumley
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Ari Mattathias : Yes you are Overreacting a little,It is quite likely due to your location that mold or even Aerosolized rat shit Will cause you and your family harm !

When working with Fiberglass in any form it is a good idea to wear a simple paper type trash-able respirator, and coveralls taped at wrists and ankles ,after you
have finished work for the day those coveralls should be washed separately from other family members clothing, the machine should be run through its wash and
rinse cycle without any thing in the washer and your coveralls should be line dried !

Daily contact (breathing it in ) can over long exposure make your sick 5, !0, 20 years done the road, and thinking of your children future is always a good idea!

If you have leaking ductwork it should be sealed with a good grade of silver Duct tape, you should be able to plan on using your furnace for a back up "IF" ?!

I am going to suggest that you take one more trip into your Crawl Space, this time YOU are going to pull back the insulation in the pockets created by where your
Floor, Floor joists and Sill all meet at your outside wall. With a good flashlight, you are going to look at where your fiberglass insulation meets your sill and check
carefully for any present signs of trapped water vapor soaking into the insulation and or signs of past water staining on the wood or running down the inside of
your exterior walls.

Current code requires that instead of fiberglass insulation in these pockets, they should be filled up with a closed cell impermeable foam, the foundation you save
will be your own !

As a general rule I do not like U-Tube, but in this case, you should be able to find several good videos on protecting your crawl space from freeze ups, up-grading
your insulation and dealing with any moisture problems ! For the Good of the crafts ! BIG AL !
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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Thank you for your replies.
I think we will need to use space heaters in the meantime, I can't bare the thought of my kids breathing in any more of this stuff than they have to. I can understand the airborne rat poo and dust, but fiberglass, no way.
Are there any good whole house air purifiers that will filter out settled fiberglass? I know they're expensive but clean air is important to me.
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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John Elliott wrote:What does the main air filter look like? You could put a brand new one in and put a 1"x1" square of toilet paper (just one of the two-plys) right in the center of it, and that would be a decent air sampler for your house. After a couple of days of collection, you would have a sample that you could take to the laboratory and analyze. You can put that sample under the microscope and count for spores, pollen, fiberglass bits and "other". If you want to look specifically for fiberglass, you would have to digest the paper (in a chem lab they use nitric acid) and see what is left behind.

Once the wood stove is installed, you won't be forcing as much air through the vents, and it is the forced air that is carrying all the small particulate matter.

Ripping out insulation is a dirty task; and while you are ripping it out, a lot more of it is getting airborne. But if you hardly ever go under the house, then with the vents sealed off, there won't be a lot of it getting entrained into your household air.


As an immediate solution I'm thinking of getting space heaters, turning off the vents and taping over them. At least we'll be warm in the meantime. Then getting a quality air filter to begin cleaning any settled fiberglass, would this work?
 
Isaiah Ari Mattathias
Posts: 80
Location: Oregon
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allen lumley wrote:Ari Mattathias : Yes you are Overreacting a little,It is quite likely due to your location that mold or even Aerosolized rat shit Will cause you and your family harm !

When working with Fiberglass in any form it is a good idea to wear a simple paper type trash-able respirator, and coveralls taped at wrists and ankles ,after you
have finished work for the day those coveralls should be washed separately from other family members clothing, the machine should be run through its wash and
rinse cycle without any thing in the washer and your coveralls should be line dried !

Daily contact (breathing it in ) can over long exposure make your sick 5, !0, 20 years done the road, and thinking of your children future is always a good idea!

If you have leaking ductwork it should be sealed with a good grade of silver Duct tape, you should be able to plan on using your furnace for a back up "IF" ?!

I am going to suggest that you take one more trip into your Crawl Space, this time YOU are going to pull back the insulation in the pockets created by where your
Floor, Floor joists and Sill all meet at your outside wall. With a good flashlight, you are going to look at where your fiberglass insulation meets your sill and check
carefully for any present signs of trapped water vapor soaking into the insulation and or signs of past water staining on the wood or running down the inside of
your exterior walls.

Current code requires that instead of fiberglass insulation in these pockets, they should be filled up with a closed cell impermeable foam, the foundation you save
will be your own !

As a general rule I do not like U-Tube, but in this case, you should be able to find several good videos on protecting your crawl space from freeze ups, up-grading
your insulation and dealing with any moisture problems ! For the Good of the crafts ! BIG AL !


Al,

I forgot to mention it's a doublewide/manufactured home. I did see a little water accumulation while under there, but it was not beneath a vent. I smelled it hoping it was not sewage, luckily it was not.
 
John Elliott
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Fiberglass, like other dust, will settle out. You can buy HEPA filtration systems at places like Sears or Target, and that may get things out of the air faster. If you decide to go that way, you should inspect the filter fairly often, even daily, until you get a good idea of how much stuff is getting pulled out of the air.

If you do a thorough vacuuming, wipe down areas where dust accumulates, and keep a HEPA filter running, that should improve your air quality and give you some peace of mind.
 
Brian Knight
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Location: Asheville NC
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I agree with the advice so far. You should take serious action to exterminate or relocate the rodents that may be down there. Hentavirus is a major concern with rat/mouse poo. The fiberglass particles are pretty dangerous when airborne, some think as dangerous as asbestos. Obviously mold is a concern as well and you should take action to fix your grade, both how the water is getting in and giving it a path to get out once in there. Radon and soil gas is another possible pollutant coming from down there, which has recently been declared by the American Lung Association as the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Assuming your modular is built on a ventilated crawlspace, otherwise know as "attached cave". Ventilated crawlspaces are no longer recommended by a vast majority of building experts. Even if you abandon and seal off the ducts, the air in the house will pretty much be the same as the air in the crawlspace. It would be best to seal at the ground level with plastic sheeting, seal off the crawlspace vents and insulate the crawlspace walls. This would be considered a sealed and insulated crawlspace. It would be best to remove FG batts at that point but it depends on the situation.

At the very least, you should try to betterseal off the subfloor from the main house and do what you can to seal the ceiling which could dramatically reduce the amount of air flowing into the house from the crawlspace. FG particles or not, airflow from attached caves is almost never a good thing. Not only could this improve your Indoor Air Quality but should help lower your monthly energy costs as well.
 
Brian Knight
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Location: Asheville NC
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Hate to be negative Brian and dont want to get into trouble but think its relevant that there are IAQ concerns with having a biomass heater inside the living space. I do think its arguably better for the overall environment's air but cant help but wonder how close in OR you are to some abundant grid hydro and using a mini-split as an option. I know I know, wood is tough to beat but perhaps just having it as a backup would help alleviate some concerns.
 
Sean Rauch
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
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Yes inspect and repair everything in the crawl space. Even if you plan in heating exclusively with wood the forced air system can be good for moving air around and running the air through a filter.

Be really picky with the wood system you end up with, some aren't the greatest for indoor air quality and if you don't have everything tuned properly they can be a real pain. A always before upgrading or changing your heating system make sure the building envelope is up to snuff.
 
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