Human health and the built environment is a complex topic. Although we do not profess to have any special expertise in this area, we do know we are connecting the basic dots that many medical professionals, heating & air conditioning contractors and builders are failing to connect. Many professionals are simply treating symptoms. They are throwing prescriptions and technology at problems without a fundamental understanding of the environmental issues that “may” be driving or aggravating a health problem.
Advantage Home Performance is unique because for several decades we have been utilizing published high quality building science research regarding indoor air quality and the built environment. We look to independent third party organizations like American Lung Association, Health House, EEBA, etc. for unbiased information.
We also bring a healthy skepticism to many manufacturers’ filtration claims because they often evaluate their products in laboratories rather than actual homes with constricted and leaky duct systems. We’ve seen and documented high end filtration failures. See the dust mitigation case study in which running air handlers with high end filtration devices only exacerbated an indoor air quality situation.
Over the past two decades we’ve applied what we’ve learned in the field using diagnostic tools like blower doors, duct blasters, flow hoods and digital pressure gauges to better understand the buildings our customers live in. We sometimes occasionally use sophisticated testing meters and gauges such as laser particle counters, carbon dioxide meters, carbon monoxide meters, relative humidity meters, etc. to help us better understand what is in the air our customers are breathing. Couple this testing with our knowledge of building science and building repairs and we are well positioned to solve problems.
Our goal is to investigate and determine how and where pollutants are entering the home and then make corrections to the building defects that are the cause of these types of issues. It takes an experienced auditor with years of experience to diagnose and correct these types of problems. He must have the right equipment and training to correctly ascertain what is going on.
For customers with bad allergies, asthma or dust, our goal is to keep allergens and dust out of the home. We air seal the home using basic air sealing details or, in some cases, spray foam insulation. We verify our work by using a blower door to measure building airtightness and we bring in the proper amount of outdoor air in through a ventilation system with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. We have been able to reduce the impact of allergens by air sealing and filtering the air we intentionally bring in. Read the dust mitigation case study.
Our research, testing and experience on actual jobs means we are basing our recommendations on practical experience. Many heating and air conditioning contractors simply want to sell you a high priced filter. If these sales people were genuinely interested in solving problems they would be doing less talking and more testing. Any meaningful indoor air quality solution is going to be the result of a thoughtful investigation and comprehensive solution.
We begin all of our indoor air quality jobs with both a $99 energy audit and separate indoor air quality evaluation (coming soon). The indoor air quality evaluation is simply an additional layer we add to the energy audit. The cost of the indoor air quality evaluation is determined on a case by case basis.
Our goal is to repair the building defects that could be undermining health, as well as implement solutions with the hope that it will create a healthier indoor environment for our customers. We encourage customers to educate themselves before they proceed with any solution. There are links to indoor air quality web sites in our resource center.