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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    2
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    This sounds like formaldehyde to me, or alternatively coatings and glues. If your mucosal membrane in nose gets scabby - almost always formaldehyde. Try the cheaper home air check randy mentioned for VOC levels (run both the air and the dust particle one) - focusing on VOC and formaldehyde. Test after keeping doors/windows closed tight for minimum of 24 hours and when occupancy is lower (our lungs are really good at cleaning the air). I find the specifics of the test are hard to pin down, but the VOC numbers are close to the very expensive spectroscopy tests.
    My brand new build was a disaster - really wish ewg would stop focusing on mascara and start looking at building products. The paint was the primary culprit - it never cured properly. But there were so many other issues. The mirror mastic that was used in my bathroom gave me a headache for 6 months before it stopped offgassing. Smelled like a fake pine tree. I digress....
    The good news is if it is wood and coatings, you can just start coating things with AFM safecoat/acrylaq/etc and will def get offgassing under control. That and make sure you ventilate! I like IQAir more than Austin for air purifiers, if you decide to go that route as well.
    Good luck and let me know how everything goes!!!

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    9,635
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    HEPA filters do nothing for VOCs. Fresh air change purges them.
    A fresh air change in 4-5 hours when occupied is minimum.
    Very sensitive occupants may need a fresh air change in 3 hours.
    Keep us posted about summer problems. <50%RH is also important.
    Regards Teddy Bear
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio
    Posts
    9
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    I know the house is new but the ducts could of picked up a lot of dust an debris during the construction phase. I would have them and the HVAC unit professionally cleaned. Also don't skimp out on the good filters.

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Posts
    8
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    I agree. It does sound like construction debris.
    Have you found a solution to this recently?

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    USA, Seattle currently
    Posts
    9
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    Your symptoms match formaldehyde exposure, but could be a number of other issues. It is not uncommon for some houses to be worse than others even if built at the same time by the same builder. There are inexpensive test that you can do yourself to helpfully solve the problem. You can use a passive acs badge for formaldehyde. The test including lab fee is about $39 and is something you can do yourself.

    Subscribed to this thread, waiting for any updates in case you found a solution.

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    24
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    The most common is the dirty ducts system that causes and enhances allergens and skin problems. Most people recommended exhaust fans but it is a temporary solution. You need to get your ducts checked it should have been your first step to check as the air in the house is circulated through ducts. There seems to be a problem there. The bacterial build up in the ducts is causing all respiratory and skin problems.

  7. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    9,635
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    SCrapes from construction is the same material the home is made up. I am not in favor of dirty ducts but maintaining a fresh air change is critical to maintain a healthy home purged of common chemicals that are in building materials.
    But mechanical fresh filtered purges pollutants and renews oxygen.
    If in a green grass climate, fresh air ventilation is best done by using a small whole house dehumidifier like the Ultra-Aire dehumidifier with the fresh option.

    Keep us postedl
    Regards Teddy Bear
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  8. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    11
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    Thread Starter
    Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for the ideas/help. Sorry I haven't provided an update in a long time. I wanted to get a better idea of what was happening / triggering the symptoms so I could provide better details. Things improved a lot in the Spring and over the Summer / early Fall. My asthma symptoms were a lot better and I wasn't as congested. From July to October, I only woke up a couple of times with a tight chest / stuffy nose and was fine throughout the day, definitely nowhere near what I was experiencing last winter.

    1) We had windows open a lot during this time and this seemed to help a lot.
    2) Humidity was monitored and was always between 40 and 50% from Spring to Fall (the AC took care of dehumidification in the muggy weather).
    3) I'm running a Merv 16 filter in the lennox furnace and change it every 6 months or so.

    Unfortunately, now that it's Winter again and the house is closed up, it's become bad again.

    I tried keeping track of the weather just in case there was any correlation to when things would be better vs worse. One thing I've noticed, and it feels almost silly to type this, my symptoms seemed to be a lot better when the wind direction was coming from the North-ish direction vs South or South-West. I don't get it and it may be entirely coincidental/red herring, but like clockwork my nose would clear up and chest tightness let up (like how you feel when finally over a bad chest cold) and sure enough the wind direction was North. Our bedroom is on the southwest side of the house, and the house faces south. I seem to be much better in the rooms on the East side of the house.

    The East side of the house is a separate branch off the plenum (there's only 3 ducts off that one since the furnace is in the East side of the house. The rest of the upstairs supply where I have symptoms is fed by the other branch.

    The East bedrooms (where things seem to be better) has very little dust accumulating and what does accumulate is more of a fine dust.

    Whereas the living room and our bedroom seem to quickly get dusty with a lot of small fibers (within a few days of cleaning), more so than I've seen in previous homes I've lived in. We only have one carpet (area rug under the coffee table) in the living room, so it's possible the fibers are from that, but we never had any build up like this at the old condo we were in with the same rug.

    Running an iqAir with carbon filter in the bedroom and I'll wake up a lot better than without in terms of stuffy nose / tight chest.

    I had another mold test done in July with more samples (most rooms in the house) in case the previous 2 sample test missed anything. Everything came back laughably low.

    If I leave the house and stay at a friend's or hotel, I'm completely fine and realize how nice it is to not be sick in your own house. I need to figure out what's causing this and the difficult part is that we live in a smaller city no, not giving us much option in terms of assistance.

    It doesn't seem to be mold spores, so I'm guessing it's either particulate or VOCs (or MVOCs). My wife is now 100% fine in the house and my friend who used to have really itchy eyes here has seemed fine the last couple of times he's been over for an extended period of time.

  9. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    11
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    Thread Starter
    Having read all your helpful posts again, I think what we're going to first try is to install a humidifier on the furnace, since that's something we're needing to do along with increasing ventilation. As a combination of lower humidity and lack of ventilation may be contributing to the symptoms caused by IAQ.

    Right now it's -5 F outside at 60% humidity. We can't really ventilate easily without losing lots of humidity, but I don't mind a few extra dollars in heating for fresher air.

    Is it possible to run the HRV during such low temperatures? I'm pretty sure it feeds into the return air of the furnace (mixed with return air from the house before the filter).

    I think I may go ahead with the formaldehyde badge testing as it's pretty affordable and may give us an idea of what's going on. There's definitely still a new chemical smell when opening cupboards

  10. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    9,635
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    My guess is that you get plenty of fresh air change during cold weather and a little wind. Mainly the stack effect makes the house fresh air infiltration increase. Calm wind and mild temperatures slows natural air change.
    Keep us posted.
    Regards Teddy Bear
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  11. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Austin
    Posts
    119
    Post Likes
    Home Air Check can provide a testing kit and you return the sample. In a week or less you'll have a pretty accurate of reading TVOC including formaldehyde.
    The lab used is highly credentialed and very popular with IAQ specialist in the US.
    Set you back about &250.00 for total voc levels and formaldehyde.
    https://homeaircheck.com/products/ Least Expensive.

    I'm really interested in what you find as I've been fighting an VOC issue for a couple of years.

  12. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    9,635
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    Consider the whole issue about indoor air quality. Mechanical fresh air of an air change in 4-5 hours assure purging of all chemicals and the renewal of oxygen. Even if chemicals are not present, occupants need 15% oxygen minimum. Outdoor air is 20% oxygen, ideal indoor air quality for most homes is a merv 11 air filter with a fan circulating the fresh filtered air throughout the the home. Heat/cool/filter/30-60%RH is healthy and comfortable. NAtural air change varies with outdoor temperature, wind, air tightness of the home.
    This why building codes are slowly trending toward including these issues.
    Well designed homes include mechanicals that deal with these issues.
    Green grass climates need supplemental dehumidification to backup the a/c, high outdoor dew points, and the moisture from occupants to be healthy and comfortable.
    This is an important issue for the home owner and home designers.
    Keep us posted.
    Regards Teddy Bear
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  13. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    US of A
    Posts
    5,236
    Post Likes
    Quote Originally Posted by servicefitter View Post
    Are your sure it's not from the off gassing from all the new materials? Being -22* and 30% or less Rh can't hardly believe its mold. With triple glazed windows the house has to be very tight if the house is built like the windows. Can you crack a window and run a kitchen or bath exhaust fan pulling air through the house? Heat and energy recover unit might help if cracking of window helps.
    This is what I would be looking at. I would be looking at the manufacturers of the flooring etc...
    Signature removed Violated rule #15

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