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  • Writer's pictureColby Taylor

Water Damage: The Silent Threat to Your Indoor Air Quality

Updated: Jun 17

You know that saying down here in Austin - "Where there's moisture, there's trouble." We all see the obvious stuff when water damage happens, like rotting wood and stained walls. But there's a hidden issue that often gets overlooked - poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Yep, that excess dampness can seriously affect the air quality within your home, which impacts the air you're breathing. It's not something you want, trust us. But don't sweat it; we're here to break it all down and show you how to improve the air inside. 

The Unseen Connection

Let's say you've got a little leak under the kitchen sink. "Ah, no biggie," you think. "I'll get that fixed up quickly." Except that tiny leak creates a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Next thing you know, those fungus dudes are releasing spores right into the air you breathe. Thanks, Austin allergens!

And leaks aren't the only culprit affecting IAQ. We all know those famous Texas thunderstorms. One of those babies comes rolling through and floods your basement? 

Hello, standing water and high humidity - aka mold's dream vacation spot. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (they've got some great mold resources) and the American Lung Association warn that breathing in those spores can mess with your indoor air quality and respiratory system and even lead to chronic respiratory diseases like heart disease down the road.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also points out that mold is a major contributor to household air pollution, sometimes even worse than outdoor air pollution.

Trust us, we've seen it all. One client thought their roof leak was no big deal until we found their home had morphed into an actual mold factory. They had no clue their air quality was being poisoned until our inspection revealed the air quality impacts on their health.

Indoor damp & air quality (IAQ) testing.

The Health Risks

We probably don't need to tell our allergy-prone Austinites, but moldy air is not something you want circulating through those AC vents. That junk can really do a number on you, leading to:

  • Respiratory problems like asthma and decreased lung function

  • Allergy freak-outs with sneezing, itchy eyes, rashes - the whole nine yards  

  • Chronic issues like impaired lung function, heart disease, and other respiratory diseases

  • Exposure to fine particulate matter that can mess with your central nervous system

  • Risks of poor air quality causing long-term health issues

One client was hacking and wheezing non-stop before we solved their water woes. After? Their symptoms cleared up almost overnight - just in time for cedar fever season! Poor indoor air quality is no joke.

How Water Wreaks Havoc

Mold and mildew are only the start. Water damage can mess up your indoor air quality in some other nasty ways:

  • Busted appliances spewing carbon monoxide - not a gas you wanna be inhaling, according to the Product Safety Commission

  • Gross bacteria partying it up in standing water (which creates indoor air contaminants)

  • Pests like water bugs and mice are moving in, leaving their...lovely little droppings. 

Not exactly what you want circulating through your AC in the middle of another brutal Austin summer, you know? Hello, household air pollution.

Prolonged exposure can even impact your indoor environmental quality and carbon dioxide levels, leading to sick building syndrome.

And don't forget about safe drinking water; water damage can compromise that too.

Detecting Water Damage Early

The sooner you catch water damage, the easier it is to avoid those airborne biohazards from taking over your home. Air quality affects everything, so be on the lookout for:

  • Stains on walls, floors, and ceilings

  • That unmistakable musty, damp smell (aka "August" around here) 

  • Excess humidity in certain rooms

Fancy tools like moisture meters and thermal cameras can also detect issues. It's key to handle an issue as soon as possible. One client caught some funky smells in their East Austin home and called us right away—crisis averted!

PRO TIP: Using green cleaning products and ensuring proper outdoor air ventilation can help reduce indoor air pollutants.

Restoring Healthy Air Indoors

Dealt with water damage already? No worries, there are ways to improve indoor air quality and get that air back to freshness: 

- Dry everything out quickly with fans and dehumidifiers- Give the area a serious deep clean and sanitizing - Rip out any materials too far gone to be salvaged- Crank that window open wide! Outdoor air ventilation keeps the air fresh- Invest in some heavy-duty particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems

Our team is also all about using UV-C light sanitizers for an extra layer of protection against lingering mold spores.

PRO TIP: In addition, consider consulting air conditioning engineers (ASHRAE) for advice on the best practices and minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings to ensure your HVAC system is up to par.

When to Call in the Pros

As handy as you might be, sometimes you gotta call in the experts to really get the job done right. Professional indoor air quality inspectors have all the fancy sensors to accurately detect any contaminants lurking in your air. More importantly, they know how to eliminate those nasties for good.

Think of it as an investment in your health and peace of mind. You won't have to guess at your home's air quality anymore —especially if you're living in one of those charming historic Austin homes or bungalows prone to sick building syndrome.

Maintaining Good Indoor Air Quality Long-Term

 Once we've got your air purifier, there are some things you can do to help maintain acceptable indoor air quality standards and keep it that way:

  • Stay on top of home inspections to catch any new water issues early

  • Make sure your place is properly ventilated with outdoor air ventilation to control humidity

  • Use high-quality HEPA air purifiers with a good minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) to keep filtering 24/7

  • In moisture hotspots like basements or your grandma's 1930s bungalow, dehumidifiers are a must

The key is being proactive about controlling that dampness. An ounce of prevention is worth not having to re-drywall, you know?

improving indoor air quality with air purifying

Indoor vs Outdoor - They're Connected

While we're talking about air quality, it's important to know that indoor air pollution and outdoor air pollution are interconnected here in Austin. Inside, you're dealing with mold, dust, pet dander and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from household products. Outside, it's vehicle emissions, fine particulate matter, cedar fever, and who knows what from those refineries.

Improving your indoor air quality goes hand-in-hand with minimizing how much outdoor gunk makes its way inside too. Sealed windows, air purifiers and even some hardy indoor plants can help improve air quality and filter out those exterior Austin contaminants.  

Your Home Health is No Joke

At the end of the day, letting water damage fester is basically inviting toxic air to take over the place you spend most of your life. That's not something to take lightly, especially if you or your family have any respiratory issues. Excess moisture leads to mold, and mold leads to all kinds of potential health problems down the road.

So, if you've got any signs of water infiltration or dampness in your Austin-area home, don't wait. Give the Water Damage Repair Tech team a call ASAP. We'll make sure the air you're breathing meets acceptable air quality standards and is as fresh and healthy as can be, even during peak mold season.

You only get one set of lungs, after all. May as well take good care of them! Reach out for a professional assessment from the experts at Water Damage Repair Tech.


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