Indoor Air Quality in Homes
Remodeling Your Home? Have You Considered Indoor Air Quality?
IAQ and the Kitchen Remodel
Cooking in the kitchen generates a lot of moisture and odors, and requires ventilation. While there are various ventilation strategies for a kitchen, the range hood is by far the most common. The range hood should be used to capture and exhaust combustion products and vent them directly outdoors. These range hoods should be sized correctly. For a typical range, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) recommend 100 cubic feet per minute (cfm). Larger fans may need to have make-up air provided, to prevent excessively depressurizing the home and potentially causing combustion equipment to backdraft. Choose a quiet or remote mounted fan so noise doesn't keep you from using the range hood every time you cook.
Despite good ventilation, moisture-laden air from the kitchen can still make it's way into wall and ceiling cavities. A kitchen remodeling project may present an opportunity to improve air-sealing. Electrical, plumbing, and ventilation penetrations should be sealed where they are accessible or in any walls that are opened. Depending on how they were constructed, soffits can be troublesome to air-seal, but if you are replacing cabinets, you may be able to access space that would otherwise be unreachable.
Flooring must not only have a good resistance to harm by water, but should also prevent water which does get on the floor from penetrating to the subfloor and space below.
Do not install carpet near water sources or in areas where there is a chronic moisture problem such as around sinks. To reduce the potential for microbial growth in the joints of hard surfaces or porous flooring installed near water sources, be sure to seal the entire surface.
Kitchen remodeling may present a good opportunity to replace old windows with new ENERGY STAR® windows. While costs do not always justify the change from purely an energy savings perspective, there may be other benefits of new windows. More efficient windows may be less prone to condensation and related mold growth. Painted window sashes and frames in homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint; this is a special concern because the friction of opening and closing windows can release lead dust into the home.
While remodeling or improving the energy efficiency of your home, steps should be taken to minimize pollution from sources inside the home. In addition, residents should be alert to signs of inadequate ventilation, such as stuffy air, moisture condensation on cold surfaces, or mold and mildew growth and use the remodeling project to correct underlying problems. While all of our general recommendations may not apply to your home, you should be aware of the issues, from radon and lead, to ventilation, and good work practices.