When you’re at home, the last thing you want to be worrying about is what dangers might be lurking around every corner. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realize the real risks posed by threats they can’t even see. That’s why we turned to our experts, to find out what updates and changes homeowners can make to keep their homes safe, and to help them rest easy at night.
Our experts had a lot of suggestions, ranging from minor home adjustments to more major undertakings. We’ve compiled a list of six of the most helpful suggestions for keeping you home safe and healthy. Read on to see what they had to say.
1) Replace Your Plumbing
Access to clean, running water is something we take for granted in the modern world, but all that indoor piping can also be a hazard to our health. If your sump pump is old or damaged, you may be subjecting your family to dangerously high amounts of radon. As expert Ed Burris of Convenient Plumbing informs us,
“Exposure to radon in the home is responsible for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.”
Luckily, it’s a hazard with a simple solution. Many plumbers are certified to test your home for radon, and to install a radon sump pump system that will cut your exposure dramatically.
2) Re-Think Your Carpets
You may love that cuddly feeling of thick carpeting underfoot, but it also might be the reason you’re taking so much allergy medication. Carpeting traps allergens like dust mites, dirt and pollen, and keeps them circulating in your home no matter how much you clean. Expert Jill from The Welcome Home suggests that you should “replace wall to wall carpet with a hard surface (wood, floating floor, sheet vinyl, etc)…. Use easy-to-clean indoor/outdoor area rugs. You can always take them outside and hose them down, and it’s easier to remove stains.” Making these small changes will also cut back on the amount of dusting you have to do.
3) Seal Air Ducts
Not everybody thinks about what’s going on inside the walls of their homes, but they should: that’s where the ventilation happens. As expert Brad Brenner of Aeroseal explains,
“It’s estimated that 60% to 85% of U.S. homes today have significant duct leakage – even new homes. Effectively seal the leaks and you’ll dramatically improve the indoor air quality of your home.”
With the advent of aerosol-based duct sealant, tightening up ventilation is easier than ever. Plus, a tight ventilation system also means more even heating and cooling, which can save you hundreds on your energy bill (and fix that one room that’s always too cold).
4) Remove Old Paint
If your house is an older model, you’re probably going to run into a lot of problems stemming from being built in a less-well-regulated era. Expert Scott Svetic identifies the most common and, potentially, most dangerous of these hidden issues: lead paint. “The obvious is the lead based paint issue, which is usually present in older homes and can be removed by a certified specialist,” he explains. “The healthier, more readily available product is the Low or NO VOC (volatile organic compound) paints that are available from almost all popular paint distributors.” However, it is important to note that lead paint should be removed by a professional. Attempting to scrape, burn, or wash it off yourself will release harmful lead particles into your home’s air.
“The obvious is the lead based paint issue, which is usually present in older homes and can be removed by a certified specialist”
- Scott Svetic, S.M.S Decorating
- Scott Svetic, S.M.S Decorating
5) Install a Bathroom Fan
One of the most common harmful particles found in homes are mold spores, which grow in warm places where steam or leaking is a common occurrence. To discourage the growth of mold, it is of the utmost importance to install a fan in any area that is regularly filled with steam, like your bathroom. Ensuring that all fixtures related to water, like sinks and showers, are tightly sealed is also important. If you do develop a mold problem, as expert Nancy of Baywolf Dalton warns, you should “find a lab in your area and have the mold tested to be sure what you are dealing with if you have something more than a shower issue. Before you decided to remove that popcorn ceiling over the weekend and paint, carefully remove a tablespoon into an envelope you can seal up and take into a lab that can test it for you.” You should do this because some forms of mold are linked to more harmful chemicals, like asbestos, which require professional treatment.
6) Eliminate Physical Risk Factors
Finally, especially for anyone who is physically disabled or starting to get on in years, it’s important to make sure that your house is safe to move around in. Hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) may be helpful in analyzing risks in your home, but there are a few things you can check yourself, too. Expert Wayne Caswell, of Modern Health Talk, offers a few suggestions:
Some of the simplest improvements are free or cheap, such as removing throw rugs that pose tripping hazards, or moving furniture to make it easier to get around.”
More elaborate modifications, such as wider doorways or kitchen updates, might be more expensive, but they also offer better long-term solutions, and are still cheaper than the cost of nursing home care.
Just implementing a few of these easy, every-day solutions can drastically improve the health and safety of your home. Many things can go wrong in a house, but with a little preventative care, you can ensure that your family never has to worry about allergens, harmful chemicals like radon or asbestos, or mold hiding behind the cabinets.