Spring Healthy Home Threats… in Every Home
Although it's my favourite season, Spring healthy home threats can be found in every home.
I love the palpable buzz of new life and energy. When we’re surrounded by colour as flowers burst open, and there are fledgling birds all around.
Here in Melbourne, it is considered the most variable of the seasons – I’m sure this is the season that inspired Crowded House’s “Four Seasons in One Day.”
And, like for every season, there are healthy home threats that are closely matched with this one.
What is a “healthy home threat”?
A healthy home threat is anything that interferes with the good work we’re doing to create a healthy home. It could be an allergen, a rise in relative humidity, a leak, new paint, a new technology – there are so many possibilities.
Which Challenges Does Spring Bring?
Spring brings with it longer days (with the sun rising earlier and setting later) as well as warmer days. In many areas, the winds pick up. And when I lived in the Blue Mountains, I braced for “thunderstorm season,” as I called it.
It’s important to understand how the season causes us to change our behaviour, as this can give us clues about what may pose a risk to our great efforts in creating a healthy home.
As Spring gains momentum, we tend to:
- Get outside more
- Open the windows to let the warmth in
- Continue to use heating (as the days are still cool, and vary a lot)
- Bring flowers inside
- Get out into the garden
- Plant vegetables, herbs and flowers
- Some of us partake in the traditional “Spring Clean”
Let’s now explore how these changes can become Spring healthy home threats.
Variations in temperature throughout the day, and also from room to room can create opportunities for mould to grow.
Another change is the increased ventilation as we open up to welcome in the warmth and beautiful Spring air.
Spring Cleaning results in us pulling furniture out, cleaning, sorting through items that may have been untouched for some time.
It’s important to remember that mould releases spores when there are any changes to its environment.
Releasing spores is how mould manages to spread and survive “attacks,” and we need to keep this in mind.
- Aim to keep temperatures throughout your home as consistent as possible – opening ALL windows and doors can be part of this strategy.
- Use air purifiers, particularly when Spring Cleaning. (This one is the bee's knees in terms of powerfully cleaning the air.)
- Wear a mask when Spring Cleaning.
- Use microfibre cloths when cleaning surfaces.
- If you find mould, check this post out for my dos and don’ts.
Building materials having different temperatures can create the possibility of dew point being reached within the building. I know that sounds technical, but bear with me as I translate this.
When dew point is reached, moisture in the air can condense on a cool surface – this could be on a wall or ceiling, or within the structure of the building itself.
Obviously then, this creates moisture. And, as I always say, mould is a moisture issue.
In my years of assessing homes, I’ve seen some dramatic differences in the temperature of building materials, and have frequently found “hidden mould” in brand new builds.
- When heating your home, heat your entire home, and keep indoor doors open to help the temperature stay even throughout.
- Keep furniture at least 10cm away from exterior walls so that the walls maintain a consistent temperature.
- Ensure that your building is insulated properly – that the entire wall, ceiling or floor is insulated, and it has not been installed in a patchy way.
- Keep an eye out for condensation – and dry it off as soon as you see it with a microfibre cloth. If it’s on the ceiling or high window, you can use a flat mop, rather than climbing on a ladder.
- Watch the relative humidity – the more moisture in the air, the greater potential for condensation to form. Hygrometers are ideal for this.
Pollen and Microbes
Spending time outside can see an increase in exposure to pollen as dormant plants spring into life – which is a huge problem for people with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and also asthmatics.
And of course, the increased winds can cause pollen to travel…
And because gardening involves stirring up the soil, we can inadvertently be exposed to various microbes in the soil.
- Be aware of allergenic pollen in your area, check out this pollen calendar.
- If you have allergies (known or suspected) to pollen, then keep the windows closed, stay indoors, and keep your air purifier nearby.
- Check pollen alerts (you can get local apps for these).
- Keep an eye out for thunderstorm asthma alerts, too (I think mould is part of this picture, not just pollen, but that is yet to be proven).
- When you are out and about (including gardening), wear a mask, and consider protective eyewear.
House Dust Mites
With the changing temperatures, we’re often caught out at night – either being too hot or too cold…
This can cause us to perspire (or sweat) a lot overnight – which is just what house dust mites want.
House dust mites soak up moisture through their skin, and, a bit like mould, can thrive in moisture environments.
- Check the predicted overnight temperature before going to bed, and adjust your bedding accordingly.
- Pull the covers back to air your bed through the day – there’s no need to make it!
- When changing the sheets, vacuum your mattress while it's still warm.
- Wash your bedding often and dry them out in the sun.
- Read this post for extra information on house dust mites.
Spring Healthy Home Threats… now under control!
There you have it, healthy home threats that are unique to Spring… and most importantly, steps that you can take to protect your health.
If you’d like any help with this – then you can book a call with me, I’d be more than happy to help solve your healthy home issues.
Spring is the BEST time to create new routines…
I've created a course that is for people just like you – keen to understand healthy homes at a deeper level… and to take more action.
Having a home assessment is one thing (a good place to start) –
Actually having a plan to move forward and maintain your home so that it supports your health is essential.
And that what this course is – your step-by-step, easy to implement healthy home action plan.