An Odd but Happy Benefit

There are many rewards for living in an historic, old home.       These are many and I won’t go into them now but there is also an advantage over ‘suburbia’ homes.

We don’t need Radon detectors.

Historic homes are designed to ‘breathe’.      From their framework to the interior molding, the homes contract and expand depending on the weather.      Of course, this can be a detriment if the breathing includes ice cold winds off Joppa Flats blowing around your living room.      The tricky balance is to insulate the house from heat loss without preventing this breathing process.  This is why I get so upset over plastic vinyl siding on the historic homes.    It seals the historic structure literally encouraging rotting as the moisture can’t get out.    

That is why it is important to read up on insulating properly an historic home compared to the average ‘plastic’ house out there and to consult or hire a qualified craftsman who actually is familiar with older homes.

Most new construction literally seals the house completely from the outside environment.   So much so that it isn’t uncommon to see air conditioners running in February out in the suburban homes off of Turkey Hill Road.  (I’ve repeatedly seen it.)    This sealing process means that carbon monoxide, chemical discharges from all the artificial materials used in homes and the natural radiation that is generated by all physical objects, simply can’t get out.     A recent study has shown that the air quality of the average modern home is equivalent to the dangerous levels of pollution in toxic places like Mexico City and Beijing where hundreds die every year from the affects of air pollution!     

Yes, I have a carbon monoxide detector and hard-wired smoke detectors in my historic home but I don’t have to sit and worry that I have to wear a gas mask as I walk around my house.      And I certainly don’t worry about Radon seeping up from my fieldstone basement.   

So next time you add that second layer of clothing and don the thermal underwear so you can walk around your own old home, just remember there are a few things less that you have to worry about compared to most Americans!

-P. Preservationist


About P. Preservationist

Dedicated to the Enrichment & Preservation of Newburyport
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