It can be difficult to acknowledge that our homes aren’t a completely safe haven. We prefer to bury our heads in the sand, ostrich-style, than face up to hidden dangers. And hidden dangers are just that – hidden. It takes awareness and mindfulness even to know what they are, where they could be, or how they can affect the health and safety of your family. Most problems are straightforward to solve with a little bit of home improvement to keep issues at bay. Here are some great home improvements for ensuring a safe and healthy home.
Invest in a pool filter
If you’re lucky enough to have your own personal swimming pool, you’ll know just how much work they actually require. They can become dirty with organic matter, such as leaves or algae, in a matter of days, but dead animals such as bugs or rodents can cause a bacterial buildup which can spell bad news for swimmers. An effective filtration system is the best way to keep these problems at bay. They don’t have to be expensive, around $200 for an average size pool, and as long as the filters are cleaned regularly, then there should be no significant problems. On top of this, it’s essential to do regular chemical tests to ensure cleaning solutions aren’t reaching dangerous levels, especially in hot water where evaporation can intensify the concentration of chemicals. A weekly bacteria test will also help to ensure that the water isn’t harboring anything dangerous. As long as the pool filter is properly maintained, and all appropriate covers are used to avoid injury to swimmers or cleaners. Hiring a pool service, although costly, can save you all this effort, and ensure your family’s safety when playing in the pool this summer.
Check for dangerous substances
Depending on the age of your home, a material called asbestos could have been used to fireproof your ceilings. It was particularly popular in construction in the early 20th Century as a great insulator, woven into mats, types of cement, plaster, and other building materials. It was discovered in the 1980s that inhalation of asbestos dust could cause lung cancer and other problems, leading to its removal from many properties and a stop in its installation. Despite hard work from the government to limit exposure, some homes still contain traces of asbestos. It’s essential that you do not remove it yourself – a professional will have the correct equipment to remove it safely, so as not to endanger their lives or anyone else’s. If you’re worried about your home containing asbestos, contact a specialist in asbestos removals to be sure. They will be able to conduct hazardous material tests so that you don’t have to. Once any harmful materials are removed, ensure you get your home retested to make sure no traces remain.
Clean the AC filters
In the summer our domestic air conditioning unit can be a real lifeline. If you’ve ever had to suffer through a southern summer with a broken unit, you’ll know exactly what I mean. But if AC units aren’t properly cared for, they can harbor many hidden dangers. Mold spores enjoy the pipe, especially during winter. The piping can become damp, making them the perfect environment for mold to grow and prosper. In spring, ensure you have your AC system checked out for any residual dampness or spores. Otherwise, when you turn the machine back on, the spores will be circulated around your home, which can lead to asthma and other breathing problems. It’s also important to have your AC filters cleaned or changed regularly. They can become clogged up with dust, leading to your machine having to work harder. This can push energy bills up significantly, without you even knowing why. It can also lead to dust and, as previously mentioned, mold spores being circulated around your home. If your family suffer from any pollen allergies, you might find that moving to a ductless air-conditioning unit could help.
Have appliances checked
Electrical and gas appliances should be tested regularly by a professional. As appliances age, their safety can become compromised. In electrical appliances, this can cause fires which can start with little warning. A regular inspection of all external wires is also essential. As the coating of wires become frayed, they become potential fire hazards. Pets are prime suspects of this, so try to keep all electrical wires out of the way of animals. Gas appliances, while a fire hazard, can also be the cause of something far more sinister. A malfunctioning gas appliance, such as a fire, boiler or gas stove, can cause carbon monoxide to leak into the home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas which can cause inhabitants to suffocate, eventually even leading to death. The best way to avoid this is with regular audits of the gas appliances in your home. Any old units should also be replaced to ensure their quality. A carbon monoxide detector is also a great addition to a home. It is able to sound an alarm if abnormal levels of the gas are in the air, before the level becomes dangerous, so the home can be evacuated and the professionals can be brought in to deal with the situation at hand. They’re inexpensive, but a worthwhile addition to any home safety system.
Mold is, at best, an eyesore, and at worst can be the cause of asthma attacks, headache, and even illnesses such as bronchitis or lung cancer. Keeping track of your home’s humidity is the best way to stop it in its tracks. Using a dehumidifier, especially in winter when windows are closed but the air is warmed artificially, can help to make the home a hostile place for these spores. Keep an eye out for condensation on windows and mirrors – this is the perfect indication to you that your home is too moist, and a dehumidifier is needed. Using a fan during cooking and showering can help to remove excess moisture and keep the air in your home moving. Air which stagnates is more likely to hold moisture and spores. These spores can settle all around your home, including window surrounds, ceiling tiles, woodwork, and air conditioning vents, so keeping your home clean and dry is far easier than trying to treat all of these areas. If that isn’t possible, there are plenty of cleaning chemicals on the market for removing mold, but once it’s gone, it’s important to try to make the environment hostile, so it doesn’t keep on recurring.
Keep pests at bay
Pests such as termites, mice, and rats might just seem like an inconvenience, but they can actually be really bad for both the health of you and your family, and the health of your home. They can chew through cables, wood, and affect the integrity of the structure, which can tremendously costly to repair. Creating an environment which doesn’t attract pests is the first step. Coat any exposed wood with varnish to discourage termites, as once they get in it’s likely to require a costly exterminator to convince them to leave. If you’ve got a spare day set aside for home improvements, use it to block any small holes around the inside and outside of your home to keep mice at bay. Even holes not much wider than a pencil can be the perfect entry point for a tiny mouse, so be vigilant. If your doors don’t quite touch the floor, consider installing a long piece of brush along the length. Not only will it keep draughts out, but it’ll keep pests out too. If you have any concerns, be sure to speak to an exterminator for an expert opinion. It’s far easier to keep pests out than evict them once they’re in.
With a bit of TLC, and the help of a few professionals, your home can be completely free from hidden dangers, but it’s essential to stay on top of it, and stop problems before they occur.