Most days we walk through our homes with tunnel vision, ignoring the little details on our way to the kitchen or straight to the family room to relax. When was the last time you stopped and paused to give your home the full attention it deserves? Take a moment to really get a good look around your beloved home. Did you know that things that might appear to be a simple eye sore could in fact be a sign of a health risk in your home? As a responsible homeowner, every once in a while we need to put our detective hats on and explore our home. Could your home be making you sick? Let’s find out!
Where to Start…
- Grab a pen & notebook to take notes and even get some pictures on your phone.
- Look around the heavy traffic rooms in your home: Kitchen, dining room, bathrooms, family room, and living room.
- After examining these common areas, move on to the spaces that don’t get as much attention like the attic, basement, or garage.
- Use all of your senses to examine your spaces for signs of damage or possible danger:
- Can you see any paint peeling from the walls?
- Are appliances outdated?
- Do the floors feel uneven when you walk?
- Are there any exposed wires in your outlets?
- Can you smell dampness, rot, burning, or mold?
- Are any of these rooms dark from a lack of natural light?
All of these little things that may seem minor can be causing real harm to your family and guests. Upon your home investigation, it’s likely you’ll find a few spaces in your home that require renovations. Projects that concern your family’s health and wellbeing should always be handled with care by professionals who give meticulous attention to detail. This will give you the peace of mind that the job is being done right, thoroughly, and you can feel confident in this investment for many years to come!
North Shore Architect and builder Michael Gould has 30+ years of experience creating home renovations custom to each clients’ specific needs. Let’s take a look at some common hazardous issues you may have discovered in your home and how Michael Gould can help you resolve them…
The most common and dangerous issue with paint is lead poisoning. Homes built before a certain time period are more susceptible to having these dangerous paints seeped into the walls of their property. According to the EPA: “If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but some states banned it even earlier. Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.”
Lead paint can be hidden under layers of old paint and even within the walls themselves. Lead poisoning is more prominent in children due to their smaller size and daily activities.
“Children need special protection from pollutants exposed in homes during renovation. Pound for pound of body weight, kids take in more air, consume more food and drink more water than adults do, according to the Alliance for Healthy Homes, an essential resource for parents. Kids also tend to play close to the ground, where toxins such as lead often settle. Frequent hand-to-mouth activity also places children at greater risk than adults. What can harm children the most may not even be visible: lead dust can be so micro-fine that it can’t be easily seen, while mold and other toxins can also be difficult to detect.” Imus Environmental Health
Pulling back old wallpaper, scraping beneath the layers of paint, or in some cases the best way to handle this is to take the walls down and renovate the entire room. There are “at home” tests you can purchase to check lead levels. However, we recommended calling in experts to reduce the danger of further exposure. Check out 2020’s trending paint colors!
Old wiring should never be ignored! When it comes to the safety of your home, leaving exposed wires out can cause serious health risks. Yet many homeowners cast a blind eye to outlets that are sticking out of the wall in rooms they don’t frequent or even ignore a loose wire in the ceiling fan project that was never completed.
Loose wiring can cause fires, choking hazards for children and pets. Just to name a few. Lighting fixtures (big or small) should be installed securely. This will reduce the risk of them falling from above or even starting a fire within a wall. When renovating your home, hire an experienced builder to inspect and create a blueprint designed to keep your property safe for everyone!
“Some wiring problems are just inconveniences. But others can pose serious fire or electrocution hazards. If you’re buying a house (especially one that’s more than 50 years old), or if you’ve never had your wiring inspected, it’s a good idea to hire a licensed electrician to give your home a thorough going-over.” This Old House
Some cases of mold are easy to detect. Mold is generally found in damp areas of the home or locations that have had water damage in the past. If there isn’t an ample amount of sunshine that gets into a certain spot in your home where water may leak, then it is likely mold will grow. Mold can be extremely dangerous – even life threatening – to people with preexisting conditions such as asthma or respiratory ailments. The elderly and very young are also susceptible to these health risks.
“Mold and other moisture issues are dangerous for your health. Removing any mold issues you find is important, but you can also help prevent them or stop them from growing by carefully weatherproofing your siding, roofing, and windows. When you’re choosing your building materials for a remodel, remember to factor in weatherproofing and durability.” News Leader Online
If you want your home to last for many years to come, without experiencing mold damage, then it’s crucial to make sure your siding, roofing, and windows are all weatherproofed by a professional! Other renovations such as taking down a wall and adding a new one or increasing the number of windows in a room can help decrease the opportunity for mold to grow. Bonus: With more natural light coming into the home, it will also heat up your house without the extra cost! Mold & nasty bacteria love growing in dark, wet, and cold places.
Lack of Natural Light
Most people (especially in Illinois) spend 90% of their days indoors, on the coldest to the hottest days we seek shelter inside the comfort of our homes. Is your family soaking up enough sunshine? Natural lighting has been proven to reduce energy costs because it can help heat or brighten up a space without using electricity!
The lack of natural light can even cause mental and physical challenges. A good rule of thumb: get as much natural light as possible – every day. Humans need vitamin D to stay healthy. A great source of vitamin D is sunshine. Even if you can’t get outside, just having the sun shine into your room can lift your spirits! During the winter months, getting enough sunshine is vital to reducing stress and seasonal depression (SAD). Learn about adding a sunroom to your home!
“Light is thought to influence SAD. One theory is that decreased sunlight exposure affects the natural biological clock that regulates hormones, sleep, and moods. Another theory is that light-dependent brain chemicals are more greatly affected in those with SAD.” Healthline
Proper planning of window placement is key to developing a more “green” energy efficient home and a way to boost your mood! Read about how Michael Gould can help you create an Eco-Friendly home remodel.
Besides the risk of lead poisoning from paint, older homes are susceptible to other harsh chemicals like Asbestos and Polybutylene. Chemicals like these are read on a scale of toxicity called VOC emissions.These dangerous chemicals can commonly be found in pipes, walls, ceiling tiles, insulation, and even furnace. Learn how we can help reduce your in-home chemical exposure!
“According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paints, stains, and other architectural coatings produce about 9 percent of the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from consumer and commercial products, making them the second-largest source of VOC emissions after automobiles. If sealing wood or painting, choose products that emit low or no VOCs. Low-toxic, low-odor, water-base adhesives and caulks are the best choices because they emit fewer fumes and quickly stop releasing chemicals. Check labels to learn whether a paint is low-VOC.” Better Homes & Gardens
Concerned about the VOC levels in your home? Here’s an affordable at home test called Home Air Check. It only takes about 20 minutes to test your VOC levels. Once you have properly tested your home, you’ll have a better understanding of just how much renovation work your property needs.
Go ahead look down! Most people rarely give their flooring a second thought when considering their perspective health. The truth of the matter is that flooring really does have an affect our health. Carpets can hold all types of particles that are harmful for your breathing. The chemicals used to seal your floor could be made of harsh materials like formaldehyde (a chemical used to preserve dead bodies). Gross! If you are walking around your home barefoot – as many of us do – little particles of these harsh chemicals are being absorbed through your feet and even being inhaled by babies and grandkids crawling on the floor.
“Dusting, vacuuming, and washing will minimize many indoor allergies, but these actions can also stir them up. One good way to prevent allergens altogether is to eliminate common breeding grounds. Flooring is one area of the home where indoor allergens can be controlled.” Coles Fine Flooring
Michael Gould will guide you through the removal of outdated carpets and install either hardwood or linoleum floors in the rooms with the most activity like bedrooms and the living room. Hardwood and Linoleum are a couple of the healthiest flooring options for good air quality. Both flooring choices are easy to clean and made of natural materials safe for your home. Linoleum is naturally anti-microbial and anti-static (hard for dust & mold spurs etc to stick to), making it even easier to clean than hardwood.
If you decide to install a hardwood floor, be cautious when choosing the wood. Make sure it is solid hardwood rather than engineered wood. Many (if not most) engineered wood floors are glued together with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and major contributor to poor air quality!