inside air quality


I have a 3 year old house and I'm starting to question the inside air quality. The house in in Houston TX and as typical its wall to wall carpet. No pets, no smokers.
I'm noticing that during the day time my wife and I are fine while at work, when we get home and get ready to go to sleep, our throats get slightly chapped. Just enough to cause a cough.
My first thought is the humidity is too low so I bought a humidity meter form home depot. It bottoms out at 30-35% at night. Is that too low? How do I get the humidity higher automatically whithout using a protable humidifier.
I was thinking it was caused by a post nasal drip, but we visited a friends house and neither of us had this problem while sleeping over there (Lafayette LA).
We have aired the house out several times with no change.
What sort of air quality testing should I do to determine if I have some kind of air problem.
dust?, mold? humidity too low?
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wrote:

You could be reacting to something in the carpet.
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| My first thought is the humidity is too low so I bought a humidity meter | form home depot. It bottoms out at 30-35% at night. Is that too low? How | do I get the humidity higher automatically whithout using a protable | humidifier.
that's on the lower side of acceptable.
| I was thinking it was caused by a post nasal drip, but we visited a friends | house and neither of us had this problem while sleeping over there | (Lafayette LA). | | We have aired the house out several times with no change. | | What sort of air quality testing should I do to determine if I have some | kind of air problem. | | dust?, mold? humidity too low?
well, there's some simple things you could do to test each of those. 1. Give your friends the humidity meter, and see what their humidity level is. 2. buy a $30 cool mist evaporative humidifier and use it for a week. I know you said this isn't a solution, but it can be used to diagnose the problem. 3. buy a $30 hepa air purifier and try that for a week.
If any of the above make your symptoms go away, it should direct you to the appropriate long term solution.
j
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Good suggestions. Also try the top 3M filtrete furnace return filter to see if that does anything.
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I've done tht with the 3m 1500 filtair super duper $30 jobbies. no change.
Is there some kind of air quality tester or service I can have to tell me what the air guality is in the house?
Surely something can measure dust, mold or pollen particle count, outgassing, etc etc.

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My experience, given lots of allergies, is that 30-35% RH is not a problem, in winter. Higher than that, and condensation on some (high-e) windows comes into play; may not be a problem in Houston, though.
Various humidifiers can be installed, with humidistat at central air- mover, as it suits you and your budget.
Dust and mold could be removed with an electrostatic air filter, in the air-mover, after the mechanical filter. Or you could opt for local HEPA filter(s).
Outgassing from lots of stuff could be a problem, too. Filters won't help there. Air-to-air heat-exchanger, again at central air-mover, can serve to exchange inside air with outside, on a continuous basis.
I'd ask reputable HVAC company for options re humidification, filtering, air-exchange. Might be simplest to do it as a package deal. This sort of thing has been covered on previous "This Old House" shows, if that's any help.
HTH, J
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Carpet is a major culprit in indoor air quality issues. Many sufferers have their carpet remove and replace with solid floor. Your humidity sound OK and I would not reccomend a humdifier for the Houston are. Low humidity will be short lived in houston.
For many years I have use a stand-a -one hepa filter by honeywell. I keep it next to my bed and it makes a tremendous difference. Sorry I can't answer the question about air testing. It should be possible but I haven't heard of it.
If you go to an allergy specialist they can narrow down exactly what allergen is causing the problem. At least that will give you some solid information.
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The humidity is that low even when the outside humidity is in the 80% range. The A/C is really drying out the air.
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Got it. I don't have any allergies so I guess I'm lucky. The consensus in this group is that you are on the low side which has surprised me.
Here in Minnesota we heat our home 10 months of the year. In the dead of winter everything is frozen solid ouside. I have super low humidity during that time of year in my place on the order of 10 to 15 percent. Some folk use humdifiers but I never have. The only problem I have is a cracked lip which requires treatment each year but it's no big deal.
Thats why I thought 35 percent sounded like a high number. I guess not. It sounds kind of crazy to be down in Houston maybe the most humid city there is and have to add a humidifer to your system after going to all that trouble to remove the heat and humidity from the air.
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Might want to try sleeping in a different room. Use sleeping bags, but don't use any of your bedding.
If that solves problem, maybe something in bedroom? Laundry detergent? Bedding? Wife?
Might also want to try a stand alone HEPA air cleaner. I have allergies and this really helps during the spring. Note that my allergies are most noticeable in the evening. in the spring (right now). And I did not have allergies until I was about 35!
I start coughing and when worse my eyes start itching. Then I take an allergy pill (over the counter), turn on my HEPA air cleaner, then I'm fine after awhile.
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Also go here...
http://www.pollen.com
...enter your zip code and see if the pollen levels are high when you have these problems.
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Mook Johnson wrote:

of heat? AC? Sleep with windows open? 35% is low end of normal. It's the season, here in FL, for oaks to bloom and cover everything with yellow pollen. I don't have any other allergies, but the stuff makes me sneeze. If you have postnasal drip, it is a sign of sinus problems and would be most likely cause of a cough.
It is a little odd that dry air would make you cough. More likely you are exposed to some irritant. Chemicals or dust at work? Could cause delayed reaction. First thought is to have heating system and any gas appliances checked. Then, to shampoo carpets.
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Get a HVAC guy (heat, vent, A/C) to install a humidifier in your ductwork. No mess, hooks up to house water so it's always running. Needs a pump to drain excess water if a floor drain isn't available nearby.
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