Our home is supposed to be our safe place, but there could be hidden dangers lurking within the walls of your abode.
Here are just a few dangers to look out for and fix for a healthy, safe home.
If you live in an older property, you may want to be wary of your home’s electrical wiring and switches. Old wiring can be dangerous and is a common cause of fires and electric shocks. This is often due to the rubber casing wearing away leaving wires exposed. Knob-and-tube wiring – the most original form of wiring - is by far the most dangerous and is common in properties before the 20th century. Getting a professional to rewire your home may not be a cheap job, but it may be essential to making your home a lot safer. Some older homes may have already had electrics updated – to be certain, you’re best getting a qualified electrician to check. And even if your home is newer, be proactive whenever you smell burning, have loose or sparking switches, or experiences lots of brown outs and trips in power. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Many homes get mould - new and old. Mould is often caused by damp conditions such as a leak or simply not enough light or ventilation. What most people don’t realise is that mould isn’t just unsightly – it can also be extremely dangerous. Breathing in mould spores could cause you to develop various respiratory problems such as asthmas or even worse conditions such as Legionnaires. If your home suffers from mould, work on eliminating the source – you may want to hire a professional to a damp inspection. (PS. I once lived in a mouldy rental property and learnt the hard way how bad it really is. From ruined clothes, shoes, bags, art, and anything in storage, to a host of personal health problems as a result of not just trying to clean it off everything all the time but essentially just breathing it in every day. It's not fun and MUST be reported and treated - without you anywhere near it! Steer clear, friends. x)
Unclean air con
Air conditioning should be cleaned and serviced on an annual basis. This is because dust, mould and dirt can build up in the air conditioning unit over time – especially in the winter when these units aren’t regularly used. This can then get pumped out into the air and breathed in by you and your family, leading to various respiratory problems. If you don’t think you’ve had your air con inspected in the last year, consider hiring someone to have a look. You may even be able to clean the filter yourself - carefully!
A lot of older properties were painted using lead paint. The sale of this paint has since been banned in most counties after is was found lead could be potentially poisonous if ingested, however many homes still contain lead paint to this day. You can check for lead paint using a lead detector. This paint is best removed by a professional. Peeling paint is particularly a danger as flecks are more likely to be ingested by an animal or child or simply breathed in if they get into the air. On a general note, all paint should be applied and removed with proper protective equipment, and new less toxic to you and the environment paints are now readily available options.
Asbestos is another construction material that has since been banned after it was discovered to cause a deadly cancer called mesothelioma when ingested/breathed in. It was commonly used in walls and roofing as a fire-proof insulator and can still be found in many modern homes and buildings. Like lead paint, asbestos is most dangerous if it is damaged. If you suspect that your home contains asbestos, you’re best always hiring a professional company to remove it and safety dispose of it as to attempt removal yourself could be extremely dangerous.
Radon is a natural gas found in the earth. Almost everyone is exposed to small amounts of radon on a regular basis, but large amounts of it can cause lung cancer and other deadly respiratory problems. Unhealthy levels of radon are likely to occur in a home with damaged foundations and little ventilation. Damaged foundations make it easier for amounts of the gas to get into a property, whilst no ventilation will cause this gas to build up in the property and reach hazardous levels. To check for radon you’re best buying a radon testing kit. If the test reveals that your home has unhealthy levels, you should then take steps to seal up your properties foundations and open windows more regularly/ install an extractor fan.
A gas leak can result in all kinds of dangers from carbon monoxide poisoning to a fire risk. The former type of leak can be detected using a carbon monoxide monitor. Every home should have one of these monitors fitted – it is a legal requirement in some states in some countries in rented accommodation, and you should consult your landlord if you don’t have a monitor fitted. If you can smell gas, then this is likely to pose more immediate danger and you should get out of the house straight away and call an emergency gas plumber. Watch out for oven hobs or heaters that seem to produce a faint smell when on as this could be early signs of a leak.
Faulty monitoring equipment
Whilst many problems such as fires and gas leaks can be avoided with monitoring equipment and alarms, it’s important to get this equipment tested so that you can be sure that they work in the case of an emergency. Many people own a smoke alarm but few people every consider investing in smoke alarm maintenance to check that it’s working properly. Consider getting any monitoring equipment tested by a professional if your suspect that it’s not working.
Large cracks in walls
Many cracks in walls go ignored. Whilst small cracks aren’t likely to pose much a risk, a large crack could be worth looking into. Such cracks could affect your home’s structural integrity and could be signs of a future disaster. Walls and balconies have collapsed and roofs have caved in as a result of cracks not being fixed up. Taking regular photos of cracks is a good way to time and date changes that may be occurring. A professional surveyor will be able to tell you if a crack is worth worrying about or not.
If you’ve got a tree next to your property, consider the dangers that this may pose. A damaged tree could pose a danger in a storm, but the bigger danger to get checked could be the roots. Tree roots can often cause damage to foundations or break pipes. If you’ve got a tree right outside your property and suspect that it could pose a future danger, you’re best calling up an arborist to take a look at it – they will be able to determine whether it needs to be removed. And call your local council to confirm it's removal as some trees in some areas are protected and may need extenuating circumstance permission. You may also be able to get a tree removed for free if it's not directly on your property but on a council boundary, so best to call them to see what options are available for the health and safety of your family, your home and passers-by.
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