(Family Features)–Keeping a healthy home for your family means more than daily chores and the occasional deep cleaning. It’s important to add routine inspections of often overlooked areas and regular maintenance to your list of tasks.
“Every home can have unhealthy, harmful, or even hazardous areas,” says Mike Holmes, renowned contractor on HGTV and healthy home expert. “It’s important to check them out, especially during regular maintenance. Addressing these ‘hidden hazards’ helps create a healthy home and keeps your family safe.”
Holmes recommends following his “SAFETY” checklist to ensure your home is safer and healthier for your family.
S – Seek out lead in the home. If your home was built before 1978, it could contain lead. Your family could be exposed to it through the air, drinking water, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint and dust in and around the house. If you disturb any material that contains lead, tiny lead particles could become airborne at home. Talk to a professional to test the entire house, and take the necessary steps to ensure your family’s safety.
A – Address indoor air quality and change your air filter. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution levels can be 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels — sometimes even 100 times higher. Your lungs shouldn’t be cleaning the air inside your home. Use an electrostatically charged Filtrete Brand air filter to help capture odors and airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses. Plus, changing your filter at the start of every season helps protect and maintain your system.
F – Fix leaks to prevent mold and mildew. Mold spores need moisture to grow and thrive in warm, humid conditions. When mold is disturbed, its spores can get into the air you breathe. Inspect your home for excess water and moisture build-up from leaky roofs, faucets, basement drains, dishwashers and washing machines, and fix them immediately. Also, reduce your indoor humidity to 30 to 60 percent, and use vents and exhaust fans whenever possible.
E – Exercise caution around appliances. Before using appliances such as space heaters and toaster ovens, make sure they are working properly. Never drape an electrical cord over a sink, as electricity should never come into contact with water or any other liquids. Also avoid overloading wiring or plugging too many appliances into a single wall socket because it can cause electrical sparks, leading to an electrical fire. Be sure to unplug appliances when they’re not being used, and cover sockets with outlet protectors.
T – Test for dangerous gases. One out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has dangerous levels of radon, according to the EPA. You can purchase a short-term home radon test for less than $20. Test the lowest lived-in level of your home, and if you have elevated levels of radon, call a qualified contractor immediately. Make sure they have plenty of experience dealing with radon. Also, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month by pushing the test button on the unit. Remember to change the batteries every season, and replace the entire unit every 7 to 10 years.
Y – Yield healthier results with regular upkeep. Keep up with regular home maintenance to help keep your home healthy and your family safe. Fix small problems now to avoid big repairs later. Remember, big repairs come with big price tags and can lead to unhealthy and unsafe living conditions.