Signs, Signs Everywhere are Signs: Your Body Can Tell if Something is Wrong in Your House

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Whether you’re an occupant or the building manager, you should always be aware of how your body responds inside the building. Pay attention your senses, because they might be trying to tell you something.

I jokingly refer to people as PODS (Portable Organic Detection Systems) because humans are really good at knowing what feels comfortable and what feels wrong.

For instance, pay attention when walking up stairs in your home, especially in the summertime. You may feel a temperature shift as you ascend the stairs. This is a possible sign that you have inconsistent conditioning throughout your home. If you feel like you’re having a hot flash, it may be that there is a pocket of heat somewhere inside your home. If you have one thermostat for heating and cooling you may notice hot or cold pockets from floor to floor. By using multiple zones to heat and cool your home, you can create a better balance throughout the living space.

You should also pay attention to the relative humidity in the home, and your body is once again a good measuring tool. Is the hair on your arms standing up? In the winter, are you getting shocks from door knobs? These are signs that the air in the home is too dry, probably below 10%RH (relative humidity), and you need to get some moisture into your home.

Humans have a great understanding of what it takes to make us feel comfortable. We have all kinds of definitions from organizations like ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) also telling us comfort levels to aim for. When it comes to relative humidity for example, most people are at their peak comfort between 30%RH and 60%RH depending on time of year. But nothing beats the real feel of a room to let you know if something is off.

Technology and machines today are no longer simply “set it and forget it” devices. They are more complex and efficient than ever. But you really have to drive these machines, and this includes in our homes and commercial buildings. Similar to driving an automobile, you can’t do it on intellect alone; you have to use your senses. As we’ve all learned through our organic experience: If it looks bad, smells bad, sounds bad, tastes bad, or feels bad — it probably is bad.

Keep your home balanced by keeping your senses keen. Your body will never steer you wrong.

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Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

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