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3 Reasons Your Home May Be Making You Sick

  • Written by Nip Tuck Remodeling
Our homes are supposed to provide shelter and most would expect that keeping warm, dry and breathing healthy air while inside are a given. However, Mother Nature tests your home constantly, and in the winter months we are inside with the windows closed more often than not.  Your home can and will make you sick if not taken care of.  Just as you would not expect your car to run well without a tune up or for your teeth to be clean and healthy without a trip to the dentist, your home deserves attention to retain its value (it will surely devalue if dilapidated) and keep the inhabitants safe.  Below are the top three areas (in my opinion) to watch in your own home and some of the signs that you have a problem.

1.  Moisture – Where there is moisture, there is the potential for mold and mildew and the opportunity for water to damage your home. I, for one, get a terrible sore throat and the beginnings of a headache within about 10 minutes of entering a home with water issues that have resulted in mold.  More often than not, the inhabitants are typically not aware that this may be causing a health issue because they have gotten used to the smell and or they feel better once they get to work and forget about it. What are some of the tell-tale signs? Stains on bathroom floors, around the toilet and at the entrance to your tub or shower (some floors have pressboard which may contain formaldehyde); cracked or missing grout in showers; windows in shower areas have a high failure rate for leaks; sweating windows and doors; chimney flashing (you’ll need to look in the attic for this one); overflowing gutters and signs of rotting fascia board or soffits; cracked or peeling paint and drywall around windows usually means the exterior caulking has failed. Keeping your home dry is paramount to a healthy environment.  Make a habit of checking these areas regularly and address issues as soon as they arise to avoid costly repairs, not to mention being a trigger for asthma and many allergies.   Treating only half the issue will not fix the problem.  Hire a professional to do the tasks that are out of your expertise so that the work is warranted and the problem is eradicated.

2. Ventilation Fans – They don’t work if you don’t use them!  Some common reasons you may not be using them are because they sound like a small jet taking off, or they are just underpowered and do not work.

You will find ventilation fans in most homes in the kitchen, laundry room and the bathrooms.  Basically, anywhere there is moisture in the air, there should be a fan. If you live in an older home, you may be relying on a window to move air and might consider adding fans. One of the quickest ways mold and mildew collect are from hot water stagnating in a room and having no place to go. You may notice circles on the ceiling (yes this is mold whatever the color), drip stains on the walls and peeling paint on the ceilings.  In the kitchen, not only are you working with hot water/steam, pan frying and deep frying move grease into the air and without a collection device to move the air, you are breathing it.  You can reduce mold/mildew and improve your indoor air quality by addressing the fan issue and using them. I recommend installing Panasonic Whisper Fans with at least a 30 minute timer.

Ventilation fans must be vented to the outside, so if you are in the older home, check your attic to be sure it is not just sending hot air up there to collect. Consult your contractor or electrical supplier to properly size the fan for the size of your area and the application.

3. Drainage and Crawl Spaces – Water, basements and exposed dirt are a combination for extremely poor indoor air quality.  Every year, it is a good idea to inspect the exterior perimeter of your home for water issues.  You are looking for clogged downspouts, downspouts that drain towards the house and not away, landscaping that slopes towards your house and any standing water issues. Signs of an issue inside your home are wet carpets, the smell of mildew, cracks in the drywall or buckling millwork.  If your home smells musty or has an odor resembling the garden, you have a crawl space issue.  The crawl space should be completely covered with a vapor barrier and forced air ducting inspected to be sure it is sealed.  A dehumidifier may do wonders for removing the excess moisture from the air.  Contact your contractor or a waterproofing specialist to discuss and implement a full solution.

Your home is your haven.  If you are more aware of the obstacles, you are more likely to head them off at the pass.

Nip Tuck Remodeling is a woman owned and operated general contracting company located in Woodinville.

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