I got a new withing's scale, after the old one died when our dear deceased kitty peed on it as a final goodbye. The new one has a an air quality detector built in that reads carbon dioxide. I often suspected there was excess CO2 in the house, because I have aquariums and the ph is depressed when the house is closed up for long. But the new scale confirmed it by showing a surprisingly high reading. What do I do next?
To start out, I don't know how accurate the scales co2 reading is, but I tested it in a variety of circumstances, including outdoors, and windows open vs the house closed up. The very highest was just shy of 2000ppm, with the house being closed up for about a week and ac running. When we took it outside and when we had the windows open and fan running, it's hovering around 450ppm.
I'm not sure what to make of those readings because the outside numbers are higher than what is considered "normal" for outside, and we're in the burbs without a lot of co2 sources. Houses and cars, but I can't imagine they're emitting that much. But an acquaintance of mine who uses co2 in his lab said the 2000 ppm is really bad. The internet is all over the place on whether or not this level is bad, some sources saying anything over 1000 is bad, some saying it can be much higher without being a problem. This thread
discusses the topic of what is safe.
More to the point, if the issue is high co2 when the house is closed up, we're airing the house out at least every few days in the summer when it's cool at night. I suspect it gets much higher in the winter when the house is closed up for months on end.
High co2 in the house kind of makes a lot of sense, in that I've been dealing with issues of fatigue and headaches, and other bleh feelings. In fact, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a few years back, but mid spring, I felt better for a bit (windows were open, mild weather) and then crappy again (windows closed, AC on). My husbands been feeling kind of crappy too lately, attributing his lethargy to being bummed about losing his job. But he's also been having a lot of headaches in the past couple years, also pointing to the possibility of an issue with excessive co2
So I'm really not sure what to do next. The same acquaintance suggested if co2 is high, carbon monoxide could also be building up. I have a co alarm, but this thread suggested
that they aren't always as good as they should be.
This winter was horrible for me, and while I can't believe it could be entirely due to co2, I could see how it could be playing a big factor. This past winter was especially bad, it started early, remained really cold, and ended late, meaning the house was really closed up over a long period of time.
With this in mind, the first step seems to be "figure out if the readings are accurate." I'm not sure how to do that. I do see co2 meters on Amazon. Should I be buying one of those? Or should I be hiring someone to come out and take readings? If so, what is the type of person to do this? And who/how do we chase down detecting CO if that is part of the problem?
Next is where the heck is it coming from? Our house isn't particularly air tight, if anything it's drafty (which is especially noticeable in the winter). I had a few guesses:
1) there are just that many bodies in the house. It's just my husband and me, but we have 2 dogs, 3 cats, a bird, a tortoise, and fish tanks (the algae may respire co2 at night...).
2) Hot water heater or furnace. The furnace is off this time of year, but the hot water heater is still used. The hot water heater was installed about 5-6 years ago. It's a tankless heater, replacing one with a tank and they had to put a new exhaust in. The furnace is about 4 years old, and they had to put a new exhaust in that as well. The caveat to this is that I have struggled to maintain a high ph in the aquariums for as long as I can recall, and that's a classic sign of high co2 levels in a home.
3) The fish tanks. This was my husbands suggestion. Though I think they're affected by it, not causing it. I ran an experiment and closed off the fish room while the rest of the house was opened up, and there was no significance in reading between it and the rest of the house.
4) Seepage from underground. The interwebs says this can happen. Our house is a bilevel, with the downstairs being half underground.
5) Negative pressure inside the house drawing exhaust from the water heater (or/and furnace in the winter).
I'm not even sure how to approach this issue. One confounding factor is that we're broke, and while I suspect this is a serious issue (thought I'm not ACTUALLY sure), every penny has to count. And then the question is, what can I do about it. Even if we forgo a/c all summer (uncomfortable but I'm sure we'd survive). In the winter that isn't much of an option. Or would a cracked window help the issue without making the heating and cooling bills go crazy?
I could really use suggestions on the best way to approach this issue, because I don't have an inkling of where to start.