12 May 2021

Air of the Dog

By Elta Fans

12 May 2021

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John Bradley, Managing Director of Homevent

According to the RSPCA, an estimated 44% of households in the UK have a pet, which adds up to a grand total of 51 million furry friends. The past few months of lockdown have brought many into closer contact with domestic animals, and an article in Financial Times claims an upsurge in demand has meant the UK is potentially facing a ‘puppy shortage’.

While no-one would deny that pets can be a source of friendship in a period of distress and isolation, there needs to be attention drawn to the effects they can have on the air quality within our homes. For contractors tasked with delivering residential ventilation, there are a couple of key points to consider.

Moisture

If there is too much moisture being produced within a house, then instances of condensation and mould are more likely to occur. The link between pets and condensation is often over-looked, because we don’t think of animals as being ‘moisture-producers’.

However, it is important to note that assessments of domestic ventilation strategies rely on accurate occupancy level estimations. A two-bedroom house that only has one person living in it will differ drastically from the same property with a family living there. This type of calculation should account for pets as well, because a couple of large dogs will have a big effect on the ventilation levels required in a home.

Fish tanks are another factor that can contribute to increased levels of moisture, and is something that isn’t covered in the building regulations. It is, however, referenced by the Property Care Association as being linked with higher than typical moisture production, and should therefore be considered as part of any assessment of ventilation.

Hair / Dander

Another issue that a contractor should be aware of when assessing residential ventilation is that of allergies. As anyone who owns a dog will know, their fur can get everywhere, and apart from being an eye-sore when it collects on carpets and in corners, it can also contribute to a reduction in air quality within the home. That’s because pet dander, which is essentially dried skin, can attach to hair and cause issues for those with allergies. It can also trigger asthma if not kept on top of.

Homeowners and tenants should be notified of this risk, and while the most effective solution is to vacuum regularly, there should also be consideration given to where pets are allowed to go in the house. If symptoms are particularly bad, it’s worth recommending keeping dogs and cats out of certain rooms e.g. the bedroom, where good air quality is important to a great night’s sleep.

Contractors should stress the role that good ventilation can play in keeping air quality high in a home. While natural solutions offer a quick fix, there are a multitude of reasons as to why this may not be appropriate for a particular location e.g. in a city, cold climate etc. For the optimum balance of good air quality, thermal comfort, and reduced energy bills, mechanical ventilation should be recommended.

Final thoughts

Indoor air quality is a hot topic at the moment, and there are a whole range of contributing factors to think about. Given how many homes in the UK have pets, it is important for ventilation specialists to understand the impact that our furry (and fishy) friends may have on the air within our houses.

By being honest with homeowners and informing them of the link between pets and air quality, contractors can quickly become a vital asset to their customers.

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