Financing Available as Low as $89 for New Installs

Learn More

4 Causes of Sick Building Syndrome

Sick Building Syndrome

People often call the health issues caused by poor indoor air quality sick building syndrome. The symptoms can include eye irritation, rashes, fatigue and nosebleeds. Sick building syndrome in your Hope Mills, North Carolina, home can come from poor ventilation, dirty ductwork, volatile organic compounds or pests. Read on to learn more about these causes of sick building syndrome.

Poor Ventilation

Modern homes have excellent insulation for better efficiency and lower utility bills. However, tighter insulation usually results in a stuffier home. Pollutants such as dust, dirt, pet dander, and biological growth can accumulate over time. As a result, they can reduce indoor air quality and lead to sick building syndrome. To keep your air quality high, use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to remove pollutants, bad smells and excess moisture.

You can also add a mechanical ventilation system. Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) work like heat pumps. Their heat exchangers transfer heat away from incoming air in summer and change directions to make the air warmer in winter. This conserves power and keeps your HVAC system from working as hard, helping you avoid breakdowns and extend your air conditioner or heater’s life. Most ERVs also have air filters to prevent pollutants from coming into your home along with fresh air.

Dirty or Leaky Ducts

Your home’s air passes through the ductwork several times per day, making your duct system essential for your indoor air quality. Sick building syndrome often comes from biological growth and other contaminants in your ducts. Leaks in your ductwork can let your HVAC system’s airflow bypass your air filter, allowing pollutants to linger in your air supply. If you notice high power bills or strange noises such as rattling or whistling, have your ducts checked by an expert. You can prevent these issues by changing your air filter often and scheduling regular maintenance.

A UV air purifier can help you avoid dirty ducts by killing microorganisms or keeping them from reproducing. The light it emits is normally blocked by the atmosphere. An expert can place an air sterilization lamp in your ductwork or install a coil sterilization light in your indoor air handler. Professional duct sealing can get rid of small leaks, and you can have your ductwork cleaned or get parts of it replaced if needed.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds evaporate or off-gas at lower temperatures than most substances. They include formaldehyde, benzene, acetone and toluene. Many air fresheners, cleaners, paints and glues contain VOCs. They can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and confusion.

To minimize these compounds, use natural products when possible. Make your house smell great by baking some cookies or simmering cinnamon sticks, cloves or oranges on your stove. You can clean most surfaces with water and baking soda, and olive oil with lemon juice makes an excellent furniture polish. Store fuel, pesticides, varnishes and other substances with VOCs in a shed or garage that doesn’t connect to your HVAC system when possible. When you use a product with VOCs, make sure you have plenty of ventilation.


Pests cause many of the symptoms of sick building syndrome. Many people are allergic to dust mites, cockroaches and their droppings, lice and similar organisms. Dust mites eat dust, pieces of dead skin and dirt. They often live in bedding, and lice hang out in people’s hair. Both organisms can lead to uncomfortable itching and rashes. Roaches can live in your ductwork, and they spread bad smells and bacteria.

You should wash your clothes and bedding in hot water to kill dust mites. Dust and vacuum often, and regulate your home’s humidity. If it’s too high or low, pests could thrive. Also, repair any gaps in your insulation where insects could enter your home.

Bass Air Conditioning Company has decades of heating and cooling experience. We’re a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer, and we can help you keep your family comfortable and avoid sick building syndrome. We offer a variety of technologies and services to help you make sure your HVAC system is in great condition. For skilled, friendly service, contact us at (910) 672-8885 .

Image provided by iStock

Skip to content