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Blog/Opinion: Misconceptions About Tight Houses

By HHI Staff

Misconception #1: Tight houses have poor indoor air quality. Some do, but so do some loose houses. The problem isn’t related to tightness as much as it is to the use of unhealthy building materials—and a lack of mechanical ventilation.


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Misconception #2: Tight houses have moisture and mold problems. Some do, but excessive moisture and mold are also common in loose houses. Moisture and mold problems are often due to foundation or roof leaks, leaky plumbing, poor construction, a lack of mechanical ventilation, choosing an improper ventilation strategy, or accidental ventilation.


Misconception #3: Chimneys don’t function well in tight houses. Again, this is true for some tight houses, but chimneys don’t always function well in loose houses either. One answer is to use combustion-fired heating devices that have sealed combustion chambers.


Problems of poor indoor air quality, moisture, and poor chimney function are typically not due to tightness itself, but rather a failure to view a house as a system. According to one informed architect, “You can build tight buildings as long as you don’t fill them full of poisons.” Fortunately there are ways of achieving energy efficiency without sacrificing health. According to an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “There is no doubt that unless a reasonable and logical plan is developed, the deleterious health impacts of excessive home tightening will be enormous.” The good news is that a reasonable and logical plan has been developed— the plan involves understanding a house as an integrated system consisting of various components and sub-systems that continually interact.





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The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


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(Note: The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The Healthy House Institute, LLC.)

Misconceptions About Tight Houses:  Created on August 28th, 2013.  Last Modified on August 28th, 2013


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