Diving into a home remodeling project is exciting, but it can also introduce all kinds of foreign materials and construction processes that negatively affect the air you breathe at home. Ask these questions to make sure your contractor minimizes your family’s exposure to construction pollution while addressing current and potential problems—and not introducing new ones, either.
You’ll want to hear about how workers will lay tarps under their work surfaces, put up barriers to keep dust contained to the immediate work area and use fans that direct pollutants out open windows. They should also ventilate well while painting and installing off-gassing materials such as carpets—and at least 72 hours after, too. The worksite should be cleaned up nightly, with paint containers sealed and stored in a well-ventilated area, away from the equipment room that houses your heating and cooling system*.
Mold, a major air-quality offender, is caused by moisture, so you need to be certain that any construction projects involving mold also properly address the underlying moisture problem, or it will just resurface. Get a concrete answer on how the issue will be eliminated.
And if your remodeling project involves rooms with wetness or plumbing of any kind—particularly basements, bathrooms and kitchens—ask about the moisture-control plan. You’ll want to make sure that any condensation and dampness are addressed, flooring both resists and prevents moisture, and the bath, kitchen and dryer are all vented to the outside. Ask that contractors opening up walls be proactive about air sealing and insulation while they’re in there, too**.
All three can be extremely harmful, if not deadly, so it’s important they’re properly identified and addressed by a certified specialist.
Assume paint in a home built before 1978 contains lead, and insist any contractor dealing with it is lead-safe certified by the EPA. A certified professional should remove asbestos, as he or she will have special equipment to prevent spreading it throughout your home. And if you’re finishing a basement, either you or your contractor should test it for radon first, so a specialist can fix any issues before construction begins*.