A recent study found that nearly 50% of all American homeowners want to remodel just to prevent potential health problems! Some issues can take some time to fix, but there are 10 easy tips homeowners can do right now to make their homes healthier:
10). Know Your Noxious Gases: Radon and Carbon Monoxide are two gases found in homes across the U.S. Both are colorless, odorless, and deadly. It’s cheap and fast to have your home tested for radon, and ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE AN ATTACHED GARAGE you need to have a carbon monoxide detector mounted according to manufacturer’s specifications.
9). Fire the Flame Retardant: We’re starting to learn that the same chemicals that make our furniture slow to burn are getting some unwanted attention from home safety experts. While the jury is still out somewhat on this subject, and increasing number of flame retardant chemicals are winding up on the “Red List”—as potentially harmful to human health
8). Get the Lead Out: If your home was built before 1978 there is a chance at least one of the layers of paint includes lead and right now lead is in the news. There is several major health reports linking elevated levels of lead in the 1970’s to violent behavior. And as lead has been phased out in our communities—those levels of violence are dropping. Lead may be expensive to remove, but it’s very cheap and fast to test for.
7). Move Your Cans: Those cans of paint, pesticides, and herbicides…they need to go. And at best they need to go to a licensed recycler, but until that time make sure they are—at a minimum—not in your conditioned space. In other words, time to move the cans to the shed.
6). Do You See the Light? In the recent healthy homes study, healthy homes were better lit than “non-healthy” homes. When it comes to natural light and artificial light a home considered to be healthy will have more of both kinds of light.
5). Wall to Wall Wash: There are some rooms where wall-to-wall carpet is a perfect fit. However, left unmaintained a carpet can act like a giant sponge. Most carpet manufacturers require that carpets are cleaned at least twice a year—and ignoring that advice will void the carpets’ warranty. Increasingly we are seeing homeowners going with hard surface floors and then throwing down an area rug if they feel the need. The area rugs can be pulled up and cleaned more thoroughly.
4). How Tight is Too Tight? Newer homes are built much tighter than their Pre WWII counterparts, and at first that seems like a good thing. However, if there are toxins in the home the lack of ventilation is a problem. A home is supposed to have a certain number of “air exchanges” every hour. In other words, all the air that’s in every room has to be “changed out” and replaced with fresher, conditioned air. At some point it’s worth a few dollars to have an HVAC expert come in and ensure your home is meeting its minimum number of fresh air exchanges per hour.
3). Change the Batteries and Do the Drill: Yes, everyone tells you to change the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year (unless they’re ten year batteries). But for those of you with young children, have you trained them to the smoke alarm? You would be surprised how many kids will actually sleep through an alarm that’s going off inches from their head. Education is cheap—the results are priceless. Teach your kids that the smoke alarm means business.
2). Mind for Mold: If there’s the tiniest leak in your home likely it will start to damage wood in the crawl space first. And as moisture starts to damage wood in the form of mold, it also attracts some unwanted attention from termites and other nasty critters.
1). Change the Filter: This is an easy tip, it should take about ten minutes to do, and should cost less than $50 dollars. Change your furnace filter. Yes, your furnace has one, and likely it is covered in dust, hair, and more dead dust mites than we even want to imagine. You can actually reduce your heating bill and improve the smell in your home by changing the filter. And, ideally, this should be done twice a year.