Did you know that the very home you’re living in has the potential to cause you and your loved ones a great deal of harm? If you’re not careful about staying on top of regular household maintenance and don’t know what to look for, your house could turn on you before you even realize it. As your Utah County General Contractor, Centurion Homes wants you to be aware of some of the conditions in your home that could hurt you, but more importantly, what you can do to prevent these scenarios from happening. Below are 8 surprising ways that your house could adversely affect your health…and the preventative measures you can to take now to protect your family.
Most people don’t realize that some very common houseplants can actually be poisonous and extremely harmful if ingested. While you, and the older members of your household, probably wouldn’t ever chew on your indoor foliage, you never know if a child might. The following are some common household plants that are known to be toxic and that you might do well to research a little further before planting in your home or garden:
- Aloe Vera
- Azalea, aka rhododendron
- Creeping Charlie (ground ivy)
- Ivy (English, needlepoint, and ripple)
2. Lint Build-Up
Cleaning out your lint trap after every use and dryer vent every 3-4 months doesn’t just keep lint out of your clothes and allow them to dry faster—it also keeps your dryer from catching on fire. When lint builds up in a dryer and exhaust vent over time, it produces a much greater risk of lighting on fire. As a top cause of home fire, it’s important to clean out your dryer vent regularly so that lint doesn’t get caught in the vents. This is a task that Centurion Homes’ handymen maintenance division can do for you quickly, inexpensively, and efficiently.
3. Uncontrolled electrical currents.
Frayed extension cords, broken outlets, and overused power strips can cause serious electrical and health problems. About 1,000 deaths each year result from home electrocutions. Prevent this by installing GFCI receptacles in places where water could be near electricity—such as kitchens, bathrooms, and flood-prone basements, and test them regularly to be sure that they are working properly (for instructions on how to test them, see this blog post. Be cautious with your use of electrical cords and outlets in your home. Not only are the cords a tripping hazard but they become very hot when overloaded or used for extended periods of time. It is a good idea to teach your kids to be careful with all electrical devices in your home. Prudent usage will keep your family safer with the added bonus of lowering your electrical bill.
4. Deadly Odorless Gas—AKA Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is completely invisible to the eye and odorless to the nose; yet it can kill you in just minutes. Most commonly, CO enters in your home when there is a malfunction in your furnace, water heater, or room heater. Prevent your contact with it by making sure that you maintain and vent the exhaust of these appliances correctly. This means angling flue pipes up, not down, and checking that vents are free of cracks and gaps. Newer homes require the install of a CO detector on each level of the home. If your home is 5 years or older you will want to determine if you have a detector or not and be sure to have detectors installed if they are not present. Installing these in your home will greatly increase your chances of preventing a CO leak from hurting your family.
Even here in the desert, many homes have some amount of mold in them. Uncontrolled buildup of mold, most often found in association with a plumbing leak, can become a serious issue. In the arid climate that we live in, mold will generally only grow in places where moisture is building up consistently over time. This will most commonly be in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, but it can build up anywhere there is frequent and repetitive water intrusion in your home; i.e. around leaky drains or water supply lines, or foundation cracks near sprinkler pooling or gutter down spouts, etc… Mold can create or exacerbate health issues like allergic reactions and asthma attacks, or other respiratory problems and in extreme cases, it can lead to anaphylactic shock—a condition that leaves you unable to breathe. Contact us today if you have any signs or evidence of mold. More often than not mold is an indicator of larger water or ventilation related problems.
6. Lead Paint.
Everyone talks about the dangers of lead paint, but few people actually understand what it is, where it is, and what risks it poses for homeowners. If your home was built prior to 1978, it is highly likely that lead-based paint was used on the walls, ceilings, or trim. Lead-based paint isn’t harmful until it is agitated by sanding or starts chipping and cracking—it can then become toxic if inhaled or ingested. Lead-based paint is most dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, those with respiratory conditions, and children. If you are worried that you might have lead-based paint in your home, contact us today to find out how to get it safely removed or encapsulated.
Try to clean your chimney at least every year to prevent buildup of flammable creosote. Creosote is made when unburned particles, such as wood chips, combine with gasses as they exit the chimney. Creosote can build up in the top and on the walls of your chimney (see picture above). When this substance builds up, it creates Carbon Monoxide in your chimney—making it an even more serious issue for you, and creating a much higher likelihood of a house fire. Hire a professional such as Centurion Homes to inspect and clean out your chimney to rid it of any dangerous flammable build-up.
If you hear or see critters in your home such as; bats, birds, rodents, or even raccoons, get rid of them immediately. Those little invaders in your home can potentially carry rabies or hanta virus and they could also contaminate your air with fecal odor and particulates. These fumes and airborne debris can turn deadly and lead to histoplasmosis—a respiratory infection that’s hard to get rid of and especially infectious for children. The best way to keep your attic space free of winged inhabitants is to thoroughly ensure that any and all penetrations into your roof cavity are; sealed up, screened off, or closed in. To combat rodents also seal off any possible openings, though those critters are extremely crafty contortionists that can get through cracks and gaps you might think impossible. If having a cat is not an option, the most effective measure in controlling your unwanted four-legged feasters is to remove their food supply. A clean crumb free home is one that is generally free of voles, mice, and rats. If it is hard for them to eat because of a lack of floor fodder they don’t tend to invite their relatives and make a home for themselves in yours. This of course requires absolute vigilance in consistent cleaning and keeping food confined to the kitchen.
If you’re concerned that you might have any of the eight items listed above going on in your home, give Centurion Homes a call today. We can provide you with help, advice, and a free estimate for resolving these problems in your own home.