Could Your Home Be Killing You?

Sick house syndrome has had a lot of press recently and it’s not surprising given that the one place in which you want to feel relaxed, nurtured and comfortable could actually be making you sick.

Image from ipcblog.org

If your health is keeping you up at night it could be the sign of an unhealthy home. Here are 10 ways your home could be affecting yours and your family’s health.

  1. Damp air – damp air is the biggest cause of moldy homes.  Mold spores aren’t just unsightly and can cause damage to paintwork, walls and even furniture, they are actually really bad for our respiration and can aggravate conditions such as eczema and asthma. Whilst you may never be able to completely protect your home from mold attacks you can limit the spread by reducing the amount of moisture in the air thus removing the conditions in which mold thrives.
  2. Dirty vents – if you use an air conditioning unit and haven’t been on top of its regular maintenance and cleaning then you could be circulating dust, bacteria and germs every time you turn it on.  This is because airborne nasties like to collect in the vents of air conditioning units and if they aren’t dealt with they can then find their way through the system and back out into the room just ready for your family to breathe them in. Check your vents and limit the circulation of bad air.
  3. An old bathroom – if your bathroom has seen better days the fixtures and fittings are more likely to come lose and loose their waterproof seals. When water is allowed to get into cracks it becomes stagnant causing all sorts of nasties to breed and not just mold.  If you’re showerhead is looking a bit rusty and tired for example it could actually be filling the air with small particles of lead and other metals that can affect your liver and pulmonary system. An aging bathroom could be a serious hazard to your health.
  4. Poor ventilation – a poorly ventilated room, particularly the bathroom, creates the perfect condition for mold and bacteria to take hold. It doesn’t allow for the good circulation of fresh air and this can actually make you feel lethargic, confused and generally unwell as your body has to work harder to take in oxygen.  Even if you work hard to eradicate the mold these conditions will just keep reappearing if poor ventilation is a problem in your home.
  5. Dust – if you are an allergy sufferer you will know how dangerous dust can be.  Certain kinds of dust can trigger reactions ranging from a mild cough and sneeze to a full blown, life threatening asthma attack.  It can also cause itchy eyes, now and throat and can be very uncomfortable in little ones. It can also contain bacteria that affects the gut over a sustained period of time.
  6. Musty bedroom – your mattress could be literally teeming with life if you don’t regularly vacuum it and let it air.  This is because it gathers over half your bodyweight in dead skin every year and this is the delicacy of choice for bed bugs.  Bed bugs sound harmless but they bite and you will soon notice little lumps and bumps that keep you itching long after daybreak.  
  7. Chimneys and flues – if you have an open fire in your home and your chimney or flue isn’t working properly you are allowing smoke, ash and dirt to circulate through your home.  Just as you would avoid smoke inhalation during a fire as this can be fatal, likewise you need to avoid it on the smaller scale by having properly operating and certified ventilation systems.   
  8. Asbestos – it is impossible to know whether you have asbestos or not, particularly if you live in an older building.  This is one nasty you really don’t want to be tackling on your own so you should always call out an expert to check that asbestos isn’t lurking in the fabric of your home, particularly if you are planning on undertaking any modifications or repairs. Not all asbestos is harmful but if it is it is toxic, which is why you should never remove it without the guidance and help of an expert.
  9. Radon – another common life threatening substance that could be present in your home is radon.  Radon is a gas that is difficult to detect as it is both colorless and odourless but it causes thousands of cases of lung cancer in the USA every year.  Again you should consult an expert to test for radon, particularly if you are in a radon hotspot.  For more information check out the EPA website.
  10. Household chemicals – household cleaners and chemicals such as bleach can be harmful if in the reach of little fingers so always store any poisonous items in a sturdy, raised or lockable cupboard. However these chemicals can also harm you during day to day used in two ways.  Firstly the overuse of chemicals in the home can lead to skin complaints and allergies particularly in the eyes, nose and throat. They can also prevent good bacteria from cultivating which can lead to a compromised immune system and more chance of picking up common colds and bugs.  Try and use more natural, plant-based cleaners for a healthier approach to home maintenance.

If you are worried about any of these common household problems there are lots of things you can do to maintain a healthy home including:

  1. Regular maintenance – keeping your house well maintained means you are more likely to spot when mold or other bacteria is beginning to take hold
  2. Good cleaning regime – housework isn’t the most exciting pastime but it will keep dust and germs at bay as well as make your home more comfortable
  3. Open windows – help to ventilate that air and you can breathe deeply again
  4. Be vigilant – keep an eye out for problems and act fast before they take hold
  5. Call in the experts – if in doubt call in the experts, particularly if you don’t know what substance you might be dealing with. Your family’s health may depend on it

 

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Don’t Move, Improve!

Moving home is one of the most stressful things you can ever do. Not only that but is a very expensive endeavor to undertake too, which is why many more people are choosing to stay put and improve their current properties, rather than moving to a new place that better suits their needs.

If you want to forgo the stress of moving, but your current home isn’t how you would like it, here are some tips to help you improve your property so that you can stay put without having to compromise on your lifestyle:

Painting Wall

[Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil/publicdomainpictures.net]

Tackle any Major Repairs

First thing’s first, if you’re going to be staying in your home for a considerable time, you are going to want to ensure that it’s in good condition, which means thinking about the cost of a new roof, window replacements and pier and beam foundation repair cost, depending on the condition of your property. Do an inventory, see which major jobs need to be done and work out a plan for getting the work done and paid for. It will make a huge difference.

Redecorate the Most Used Rooms

If you want to give your home a boost without spending too much money, one of the simplest things you can do is redecorate the rooms that you use most. It’s surprising how much of a difference a new coat of paint and some new furnishings can make. If you do it right, redecorating can make you fall in love with your home all over again.

Build an Extension

[Photo courtesy of  Brian Bullock/flickr.com]

If you have been thinking about moving home due to a lack of space at your current property, it may be more cost effective to build an extension instead. The average will cost around $150 per square meter, so it is not as expensive as you might think to get the space you need.

Install a New Kitchen

The kitchen is the hub of most homes, which means that giving it a new lease of life will also give you and your family a new lease of life. For just a few thousand dollars, you can install new units, appliances and floors that will bring the space up to date and allow you to use it to its full potential.

Landscape the Garden

If your garden isn’t doing much right now, you may want to consider hiring a landscaper to give it some purpose. If you create a patio or decking area, install a gazebo and plant some pretty flowers, you can turn your garden into a livable outdoor space, which will serve as an extension to your home and give you more of the space you so desperately need.

Add Eco-Friendly Appliances

[Photo courtesy of  Marufish/flickr.com]

If your home is expensive to run, and this is why you are thinking about moving, one thing you can do to cut your utility bills is install eco-friendly technology like smart thermostats, solar panels, and energy-efficient appliances, which will allow you to run your household for a fraction of the price you are now.

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Get The Best Returns On Your Home Improvements!

After a number of years in a home, many people decide that they’re going to try to stay there for the rest of their lives, and will renovate just to make their home more comfortable and attractive. For many though, home improvements are all about bumping up the value of the property for a sale. If you’re in the latter group, you may be wondering which kinds of renovation are the most worthwhile. Here are a few that tend to generate the best returns…

Roofing

The roof of your home is one of the most important aspects of it as a property. If you install a completely new roof or make some extensive repairs, you’ll see an immediate rise in value. An existing roof you can refinish is perfect, as it obviously costs less to restore than to replace, and will be more likely to garner a return on your investment than a completely new roof. If you know the roof on your house has seen better days, it’s time to start looking for some good roofing companies.

Fixtures

File:Ceiling Neon-light fixtures in Germany.JPG

[Photo courtesy of High Contrast/wikimedia.org]

Over time, various rooms in a home can begin to look dated and worn-out. It may surprise you, but a large part of this is down to old, raggedy fixtures. By replacing the fixtures in your home, along with some other small tweaks like the cabinets and faucets of the kitchen, you’ll immediately be able to bump up the asking price on your home when you come to sell.

The Bathroom

The kitchen may be the heart of the home, but the bathrooms are a close second in terms of what’s important for valuation. If it’s practical for you to add a three-piece bathroom to a home that only has one other full bathroom, the market value will rise dramatically. While it’s a big mistake to sacrifice a lot of bedroom space for a bathroom, it’s usually a smart move to sneak another bathroom into any dead space in your home. Some families have even been able to install a three-piece bathroom in the space under their stairs, usually only measuring around 44 inches corner to corner. As a final tip, try getting a glass shower to make the room seem more spacious.

Income Suites

[Photo courtesy of Holland And Green Architectural Design/flickr.com]

These aren’t exactly common in most suburban homes, but income suites are one of the best ways to pile on value to your home. Build one of these somewhere in the property, and you’ll be amazed at how much the estimated value of your home can rise. Whether this is through a loft conversion, an outside room, a renovated garage, or any other area, income suites are very hot at the moment. This is because buyers will be able to use it to cover a portion of their mortgage payments, ensuring the home they buy will be cash flow positive. Real wealth that can supplement your income is a pretty attractive feature, don’t you think?

If you were unsure of what to priorities in your home renovations, hopefully these tips have pointed you towards a highly profitable improvement project.

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Modern Bedding and Bath Ideas

Home décor has changed a lot in the last twenty years – with the advent of modern microfibers and other advances in fabric technology modern sheets and bedding are often quite different than the sort of bedding you might have grown up with. There has also been a renewed interest in organic materials and sustainable materials such as bamboo; organic cotton bedding used to be a specialty item but now there are many organic options in sheets, bedding, towels and even rugs.

Towels, Atrezo, Bathroom, Shower

[Photo courtesy of ERguille/pixabay.com]

Modern microfibers have made it possible to enjoy plenty of warmth without all of the weight often associated with heavy blankets; there are also many plush microfiber sheet sets which are ideally suited for cold winter nights or any drafty or damp environment. For those who prefer more natural materials a breathable down comforter will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are also many modern down-alternative comforters which provide much of the same features and benefits as natural down.

Modern technology has made its way into the bathroom – microfiber towels dry in an instant and are great for use in a gym or locker room. Folks who prefer more natural materials can choose from organic cotton and bamboo towels along with 100% cotton terry towels which are known for their high absorbency. Even the shower curtain and rods have seen some great design advances – consider the hookless shower curtain and the curved shower curtain rod as two examples of improvement which make life easier and bathing more enjoyable.

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