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Is Your Home "Healthy" or “Sick”? Here's How to Find Out

We usually don't think of our homes as living things that are either healthy or unhealthy, but it can be a helpful perspective. Insurance professionals spend long hours examining workplaces for potential hazards, and you should do the same for your home. Think in terms of "accidents waiting to happen" and you'll likely come up with a few ways to improve the "health" of your residence. Some common health hazards in modern homes include things like mold, carbon monoxide, slippery floors, steep staircases, old fireplaces, "sick" ventilation systems, faulty wiring and many others. Here's a quick look at a few of the most common health hazards in a home and what you can do about them:

Substandard plumbing

Most people don't think of plumbing as a potential health hazard. In fact, uncontrolled seepage of water anywhere in a home, but particularly within walls and hard-to-clean places, can lead to mold and mildew buildup and cause serious respiratory ailments. If you suspect that your home's plumbing system is in disrepair, call a professional and have the entire home inspected. The cost for a whole-house plumbing inspection is usually affordable and is definitely money well spent.

How to know if the plumbing is in bad shape? Look for discolored walls or ceilings, which are telltale signs of leaky pipes. If any faucets dribble water out of the bottom of the connecting fixture, you have a leak that will only get worse over time. And always listen for dripping noises that seem to be behind walls and under the floorboards. They can mean your internal piping is ready to fall into serious disrepair.

Staircases

Steep and spiral staircases, especially in older homes, can look gorgeous but also can be a major health hazard for children and older people. Wooden stairs need to be carefully maintained to prevent falls, and carpeting on stairs can pose a unique tripping hazard. Always maintain older and steep staircases to make sure they're in top working order. One way for homeowners to prevent the threat of falls is to install economical home elevators. Residential lifts are a smart, safe way to assure mobility for old and young members of the household.

Moldy HVAC ducts

At least once per year, you should have your home's ventilation ducts inspected for excess mold and other hazardous junk that can clog the airways and make you and your family very sick. Many respiratory ailments result from dirty air ducts that have not been maintained on a regular basis. Like a plumbing inspection, this is a low-cost fix. It usually won't set you back more than a couple of hundred dollars just for an inspection. If your ducts need to be cleaned, expect to pay around $400 for the job. Again, you won't need to clean the HVAC duct work very often but should have an inspection annually.

Faulty wiring

Every three years you should have an electrician take a look at your home's wiring and other electrical components. An inspection is inexpensive and can help prevent a much more costly problem, including a fire. Don't wait for the three years to pass if you notice something wrong, like intermittent power outages not caused by the local utility, or unusual burning odors near areas where there is a lot of wiring.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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