Allergies can hit any time, but especially when remodeling or rebuilding projects are underway there's a greater likelihood that the sniffles and sneezes might also come along. With the recent fires in California wiping out numerous homes, many families will soon begin the rebuilding phase. As they do, they are faced with dual cause for concern when it comes to combating allergies: first the ashes still remaining in and around the area where they are rebuilding and second, the actual reconstruction work on their home can promote allergies. That's why allergy proofing during rebuilding or remodeling of your home is extremely important.
Even though this may not be the typical time of year that we typically think of allergies erupting, Angie Hicks founder of Angie's List says allergy-producing stimuli are in season all year long. Couple that with sawdust from reconstruction and you have a perfect formula for some irritable and annoying symptoms to develop.
“There are a lot of things in your house that can cause allergies. A few of the big things that cause allergies are dust, mold, and mildew, and those are things that can happen year round,” says Hicks.
She recommends enclosing the work area to keep allergens from coming into contact with you. Hang plastic sheeting over the doorways in rooms where work is underway. If you're having a small area worked on, when the project is finished do not carry the sheeting through the house afterwards -- small particles can be dropped into the carpet and upholstery.
If possible, Hicks recommends living somewhere else during the remodel. Of course, those who are completely rebuilding will be living elsewhere for a portion of the rebuild, but even when you return to see the progress, wear a mask.
During the California fires many people were outside in heavily burned areas looking through the rubble without masks. Some people even exercised in the extremely poor weather conditions. Health experts say that's similar to smoking a few packs of cigarettes in one sitting. Tiny particles of ash can get inhaled deep into your lungs and cause severe irritations for a very long time. Symptoms such as watering eyes and a burning sensation in the throat are being reported routinely in the fire ravaged areas.
Keep the area that's being worked on well ventilated. How many times have you cleaned a bathroom using chemicals and gotten a little lightheaded because you forgot to open up a window? Fumes from chemicals, paint, epoxy, and other reconstruction materials can quickly make you feel sick. When possible, position fans to help push the air out. The use of air purifiers can also help.
“Close any air vents that are in the work area because that'll keep it from getting into your duct work,” says Hicks. When the wildfires hit, families were turning on their air conditioning systems to try to stay cool. They also used recycled air to help keep the smoke and ash out. But, during a remodel, people often tend to forget to close up air vents; therefore the dust gets sucked into ducts and ultimately brought into other areas of the house. “Then when you're all done, it is a good idea to have your air ducts checked to see if there is any dust accumulation there that should be cleaned out,” says Hicks.
If you're an allergy sufferer, then you know a little bit of pre-planning and investing in allergy proofing the area, are well worth the extra time and commitment.