Fine Living In The Garden

When most people think about luxury living, they imagine living rooms adorned in marble and kitchens decked out with fantastic range cookers. But the latest trend in luxury living is to move out of the house and into the garden. More and more people want to be able to enjoy their lives in the open air. It’s here that they want to entertain guests and indulge themselves in their hobbies, especially now that the summer is almost upon us.

So what can you do to live it up in your garden? Take a look at some of these ideas from the rich and famous.

Create Your Own Covered Space

Just because you’re outside, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a covered space to keep the sun at bay. As a result, it’s a good idea to invest in some sort of canopy: one that allows you to enjoy the rest of the garden while protecting you from the sun during the hottest part of the day.

[Photo courtesy of Hotel Montecatini Terme/flickr.com]

These covered spaces can be equipped with pretty much whatever you like, but at a minimum, you’ll want some seating and a table in the middle. If you’ve got the budget for it, add an outdoor TV for watching sports and a fan to keep you cool when the mercury hits 90.

Give Your Pool A Makeover

Swimming pools are a staple of a luxury garden: they’re somewhere that you can cool off on those long summer days between June and September. But pools aren’t necessarily stylish, especially if you’ve had your current pool for a while. Not only can they look out of date, but they can also get run down pretty quickly, especially if you don’t regularly maintain them. Visit Sparklean Pools to learn more about vinyl liner pool repair. Updating your pool can make a massive difference to the visual appeal of your garden and help it to feel luxurious once more.

A Wonderland Getaway

The wealthy also really love to use their gardens to escape from the rigors of the day. Having somewhere they can go to relax helps them to unwind. A wonderland getaway can take on practically any form, depending on what constitutes a getaway for you, which is what makes it so exciting.

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[Photo courtesy of Gary Barnes/pexels]

Some people like to be surrounded by flowers and slunk off to a remote corner of the garden to read a book. Others like to create communal spaces in unusual locations, using the geological features of the backyard itself. For instance, your garden might be on a slope, next to a steam or near to a rock formation. Finally, a wonderland getaway could be a physical building, like a summer house, complete with various creature comforts.

An Outdoor Chess Set

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[Photo courtesy of Misaochaaan/wikimedia.org]

Being in the garden is all about having fun. That’s why many wealthy people make games a permanent feature of their gardens. Take chess, for instance. Large, outdoor chess sets are really good if you have children or relatives who like to play. Plus, they help keep people entertained on those long summer evenings.

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Green Living: How to Run Your Home in a More Environmentally Friendly Way

Green living is not just for hippies. Anyone can do it, and more and more people are choosing to do it these days. You just need to change a few simple things in your living arrangements to get started. And once you start to live the green way, you’ll never look back. So, here are some ways in which you should start to run your home in a manner that’s more environmentally friendly.

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[Photo courtesy of Vecislavas Popa/pexels.com]

Replace Bulbs with LEDs and Make Outdoor Lighting Solar-Powered

The way you use lights will have a big impact on how environmentally friendly your home is. You should do what you can to replace the bulbs in your home with LED bulbs. They last for decades, and this means that you will spend a lot less on replacing them. But most importantly, they are very energy efficient, meaning that your home will instantly become greener. They’re pretty cheap to buy, so there’s nothing stopping you from replacing all the bulbs in your home with LEDs. You should also replace the outdoor lights with lights that absorb solar energy during the day that can then be used at night.

Buy Efficient Bathroom Fixtures

Your use of water is also a green issue, and you should address this problem directly. You will be having a massively negative impact on your home if you are currently responsible for wasting too much water. The first thing you should do is replace the fixtures in your bathroom with water efficient fixtures. These are easy to get from most mainstream bathroom retailers. You can also change your kitchen faucets to make them water efficient too. When you start to use less water, your impact on the environment will lessen. It’s another step towards a green living future.

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[Photo courtesy of Karolina Grabowska/pexels.com]

Update Your Backup Generator

If you have a backup generator that you sometimes have to rely on, it could be damaging the environment a lot. Most of these old generators are not particularly green. And by switching yours for a newer model, you can ensure you never waste more energy than necessary. Online generac reviews will help guide you as you search for a new and more energy efficient generator. Read as many reviews of all the potential products as you can. That way, you can get a clear picture of what the best option for you is.

Invest in Better Home Insulation

Finally, think about the way in which you heat your home. If you have the heating on a lot, it might be because there are problems with your home insulation setup. Heat will just escape from the home immediately if the insulation you have in place is inadequate and not doing a good enough job for you. It’s a good idea to invest in better and more up to date insulation if you think this might be the case for you and your home. It’s simple and not too expensive to get insulation fitted. And then you will have to use less energy keeping your home warm.

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Super Simple Interior Design Ideas

When people hear the term interior design, their minds often jump to hugely complicated projects that are going to take up a great deal of time and effort. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Sometimes, the best home improvement jobs are simple and don’t require too much from you in terms of commitment. When you own a place, it is always something of a work in progress so these jobs can really end up making all the difference.

[Photo courtesy of Unsplash/pexels.com]

Paint the Room in Soft, Light Colours

Whatever the size of your house, you want to get the most out of it by making the rooms seem as big as possible. A simple paint job can really make a big impact, particularly if you choose soft, light colours, as well as mirrors that reflect the natural light that comes pouring in from the doors. On the opposite side of the coin, darker colours tend to make a room feel smaller and boxed-in.

Mix Up Patterns and Textures

Whether you do the job on your own or you say to yourself “I want to find an interior designer near me”, mixing the patterns and textures in your rooms is a classic technique. There is nothing wrong with putting some old pieces of furniture alongside more modern items, as long as they don’t clash too much and they properly represent your own unique personality and style. When everything seems too uniform, it has the look of coming straight out of a catalogue rather than feeling lived-in.

Use What You Already Have

As we have mentioned already, there is no need to spend huge sums of cash buying a whole load of expensive, new items. Pretty much all of us have items that can be used to add a bit of character to your home. Just some of these include bedside tables, luggage racks, trunks and old pieces of furniture. Another idea is to hang some plates around the place as wall art. Some simple DIY tricks can look great and give you a good project to tackle.

Add a Touch of Greenery

[Photo courtesy of lum3n/pexels.com]

Adding a few plants and flowers to your living spaces can add a touch of nature indoors. The great thing about plants is that they are an affordable way of bringing in some colour and texture to your home. Many houseplants don’t require a great deal of upkeep, and they also help to clean the household air. Not only this, they can also absorb pollutants and get rid of a lot of harmful gases from the air.

Soften Up Hardwood Floors with Some Rugs

[Photo courtesy of pixabay/pexels.com]

Hardwood floors have a classic and elegant feel in the home, but they can end up looking a little bare without a few throw rugs. Choose a style and texture that suits you, and place them in key areas around your house without overdoing it. You could even change up the styles depending on the season if you like the idea of giving your home a different look throughout the year.

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Investing In The Future of Your Home

What do we mean by the future of your property? Well, hardly anyone lives in the same house their entire life. At some point, most of us decide to make a move, and that means selling the property, hopefully for the highest price possible. If we’re lucky, it’ll be a fast sale to avoid the typical, ifs, erms and buts from buyers.

House Insurance, Protect, Home, Care, Safe, Hands

[Photo courtesy of Monam/pixabay.com]

The question is, how do we guarantee this type of future for your home. Well, you need to start preparing for it right now.

Annual Inspections

You should make sure you are expecting all sensitive areas of your home such as the roof. The roof is a crucial area to inspect because it’s open to the elements and it’s an area that you probably hardly ever look at yourself. According to http://www.triumphroofing.net/roofing/roof-inspection-services/ if you get your roof inspected regularly, you can avoid expensive repair costs because you’ll catch an issue before it gets worse. Of course, the roof isn’t the only area of your home that needs regularly inspecting.

You should also arrange for someone to come around once a year and check out your heating system. If you don’t do this, it’s highly likely at some point it will break down and catch you completely off guard. Essentially, that’s going to leave you with a nasty, expensive repair or replacement and it might make itself known just before you’re about to put the property on the market.

Upgrades

A house is like any other product. Eventually, it will fall out of style. That’s why you need to make changes to the home to make sure that it still looks like every buyer’s dream. One of the areas that you should pay particular close attention to is the kitchen. The kitchen is one of the first areas that home-buyers look at and ideally, you should be think about building a completely fitted kitchen with everything a buyer could want. Do this, and you’ll make your home a very attractive purchase indeed. You can have a look at some kitchen renovation ideas on http://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/renovation/.

Holiday House, Summer House, Home, Country House

[Photo courtesy of Hans/pixabay.com]

Maintenance

When you live in the house, you might not worry about the little breakages and damages that will almost certainly occur over the years. For instance, there might be scratches on the marble floor, marks on the walls and other issues. However, you should fix these as they crop up. Otherwise, when it does come time to sell you’ll be in a mad rush to get everything fixed in time.

Tech Treats

Last but not least, you may want to think about purchasing new tech for your home. It’s always a smart idea to make your house look like the home of the future as this is exactly what new buyers want to invest in. For instance, right now home smart controls are very popular, and they may even cause buyers to make bigger offers on your home. You can find out more about smart home controls on https://www.loxone.com/enen/smart-home/.

I hope you take this advice and start investing in the future of your property today.

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Easy Bathroom Décor Updates

Maybe company is coming or perhaps you just need a change in your home décor. It don’t have to be a total makeover – something as simple as new throws on the beds or couch can make a big difference in the look of a room. In fact a new throw can change your life if it happens to be an electric throw – they really help to ward off a chill and keep you cozy and warm while reading, watching television or just relaxing. Since most folks are trying to cut back and be more environmentally responsible house are just colder than they used to be.

Bathroom, Home, Mirror

[Photo courtesy of leemelina08/pixabay.com]

A mundane bathroom can be a challenge because you are pretty much stuck with the tub, toilet and sink but there’s still an opportunity to transform the look of a bath or powder room with new bath and spa furniture. Teak is an amazing naturally water-resistant material – look for teak shower benches, bath mats and towel ladders to turn your boring bathroom into a spa-like getaway. A curved shower curtain rod adds extra elbow room and a new shower curtain can add a fun or festive look in minutes.

There’s no reason to deprive yourself, after all, the bathroom is possibly the most-used room in any home so it ought to be as nice as possible. Monogrammed bath towels add a touch of elegance while a towel warmer is both luxurious and practical. Imagine stepping out of the bath or shower and wrapping yourself in a hot, fluffy towel; there are counter-top, wall-mount and freestanding models designed to fit almost any bathroom.

Another exotic import that has become popular in upscale hotels and better homes is a handheld showerhead. These are easy to install without the help of a plumber and can totally transform your bath or shower experience.

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How to Keep Your Home Cool during the Summer

While we may not be blessed with sweltering weather all year round in the UK, there is no denying that it can get a bit stuffy and uncomfortable in the home when the sun comes out. If you are searching for ways to make your home cool throughout the summer months ahead, read on.

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[Photo courtesy of  Max Vakhtbovych/pexels.com]

Tips for your A/C

Of course, the easiest way to cool your home is with air conditioning, and there are numerous ways you can ensure your system runs more effectively. If possible, provide shade for your air conditioning unit, as this will boost its efficiency by five to ten per cent. You should also make sure that you clean your A/C air filter on a monthly basis. Air flow will drop by around one per cent per week due to normal dust build-up. Another tip is to make sure you do not use a dehumidifier while your air conditioner is turned on, as it will cause the cooling load to increase, which will make the air conditioner work even harder. And, if you have been meaning to get your air conditioning unit repaired for a while, now is the time with a company that provides a quick service, such as Farmen & Dermer AC repair.

Window solutions

Not only do you need to concentrate on your air conditioning unit throughout the summer, but your windows can be key to ensuring your home is comfortable. You should think about exotic infills for your windows. This is a new technology that ensures the space between the panels is filled with argon or krypton, which boost R-values because they are gases that have lower conductivity than air. You should also install mini-blinds or white window shades, as they can lower solar heat gain by as much as 50 per cent.

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[Photo courtesy of  Quang Nguyen Vinh/pexels.com]

Quick tips

Now that we have dealt with the most important aspects regarding keeping your home cool during the summer, let’s take a look at some quick tips that will help you along the way:

  • Grill – Forget about using the stove or the oven during the summer months; it is only going to make your home feel like a sauna. If you are already sweltering, the last thing you want to do is turn on a 400-degree oven. Instead, use the grill. After all, who doesn’t love a barbeque during the summer months?
  • Get rid of incandescent lights – Now is the time to get rid of incandescent lights. Did you know that they actually waste about 90 per cent of their energy in the heat they emit? This is an awful lot of energy and an awful lot of heat. Making the switch can reduce the heat in your home as well as your energy bills.
  • Heat-proof your bed – Is there anything more frustrating than being too hot while in bed? This may sound weird, but you’d be surprised how effective it is: fill a hot water bottle with water, and place it in the freezer, and then before bed put it under your feet before you go to sleep.
  • Set your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise – Lastly, you may not realise it, but you need to adjust your ceiling fans seasonally. During the summer, make sure your fan rotates counter-clockwise, as this will create a chilled breeze that will make you feel cooler.

For some more tips on making your home summer-ready, click here.

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Inferno Info! Preventing Home Fires

There is always something we need to do to our home to make it better. While we think about improving our home or making it more stylish, we very rarely think about the safety aspect of our homes. There are so many little problems that are potential fire hazards that it’s probably easier for most of us to not think about it. But there are some simple things to do that can cut down the chances of getting a fire at home…

burning, fire, flame

[Photo courtesy of Skitterphoto/pexels.com]

Candles

Between 2009 and 2013, on average there were 25 candle fires per day in the US. Although that doesn’t sound like much, it totaled 86 deaths, 127 injuries, and $374 million in damaged property. So make sure you do the following:

  1.    Keep candles 12 inches away from anything that could burn.
  2.    Use candle holders that are sturdy.
  3.    Blow out all the candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
  4.    Don’t use candles in the bedroom.

Cooking

Hopefully, everyone has some common sense when it comes to cooking, but here are some tips.

  1.    Wear close fitted clothing while cooking.
  2.    Don’t leave food unattended.
  3.    If you get a grease fire, smother the fire in a pan. DON’T put it out with water.

Dryers & Washing Machines

Washers and dryers catch fire because of a failure to clean them.

  1.    Don’t overload the dryer.
  2.    Clean the lint filter after every use, and don’t use the dryer without one.
  3.    Don’t restrict the air exhaust pipe and make sure the outdoor vent flap is open while the dryer is on.

If You Have A Fire…

Firstly, don’t try and be a hero. Call the fire department as soon as you can, but make sure that you get to safety. As fires are such a common hazard, the best idea is to have a plan in mind should this ever occur. Know all your escape routes from your home blindfolded because you won’t be able to see when there is thick smoke. Stay low, and get out as quick as you can because you may only have seconds. Staying as low as possible means you will get the most oxygen out of the air.

After The Fire…

Once the fire has been put out, you will need to stay somewhere else. In the meantime, if you have updated your insurance policy, you will have to put in a claim for all the items damaged. If there are parts of the home that haven’t been damaged, you can hire a restoration company to start the cleanup. There are companies like Pro Restoration who specialize in clearing up homes after house fires and help to restore your property. Once your home is back to its former glory, it’s time to take notes of what potential hazards there are, and minimize them as much as you can.

Preventing a fire is very much about common sense as it is about safety, and in your home, you need to make sure that you are sensible by not obstructing doors, cooking safely, and generally being vigilant.

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Seek Out That Leak In Your Home

Can’t find the source of that dripping sound coming from your home? Alternatively, are you getting damp or water leakage, but aren’t sure where it’s coming from? Leaks can often be difficult to locate and can occur due to a variety of reasons. Here’s a brief of guide on how you can seek out that leak and get it patched up.

Roof leaks

The most common form of leak comes from the roof. A loose tile, broken sealing around a chimney or a puddle on a flat roof can all be the cause of such a leak. Finding these isn’t always easy. By going up into your attic and looking at the inside of the roof you may be able to see where the drip is coming from, but that isn’t to say that the water is entering through that part of the roof.

Water Pipe, Leaking, Water, Drip, Broken, Liquid, Tube

[Photo courtesy of music4life/pixabay.com]

For manually locating the leak yourself your best option is to go up on the roof with a hose and run it over the roof. Have someone else stand on the inside of your attic with a walkie-talkie/phone. When you run your hose over the place where the leak is entering, water will drip through into the inside of the building and they an alert you.

You should also look out for cracks in walls and shiners (stray nails that freeze up in winter and then start dripping as the temperature heats up). Another option could be internal piping in the attic (discussed later on).

Sometimes it may be easier and more convenient to look into local roofing companies that can locate the leak fast and repair it for you. You may be able to replace a tile yourself or repair a crack with caulk, but other jobs such as replacing a flat roof can be trickier.

Internal plumbing leaks

Various plumbing faults can often be the perpetrator. Leaks from baths, showers and toilet cisterns are often easy to locate. However, internal piping leaks may be more difficult – especially if the pipe is buried in a wall somewhere. Look out for nearby dampness. You can also check the water pressure for a fault by placing meters around you house – this is often much better carried out in the hands of a professional plumber.

Sealing and joints in pipes are where leaks will often occur, often simply as a result of wear and tear over time. Underground piping can also sometimes be an issue.

Underground leaks

The leak may not be coming from above, but below. You can usually identify an underground leak from dampness on the floor. This will often be underfloor piping, however it could also be a weakness in the foundations or a gap beneath a door. Floorboards may need to be pulled up, which could require hiring a flooring company to take a look. If you suspect it may be piping, try hiring a plumber to take a look. You should be able to tell whether it is piping or bad weather from when dampness most commonly appears.

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Essential Cleaning Checklist

Deep cleaning your house should not just be limited to spring or whenever you have a clear out. The best way to keep your home in good condition is to make sure you regularly clean tough areas. Additionally, keeping your home sanitary is the best way to keep your family healthy. We don’t usually think about it, but there are germs and bacteria living right under your nose that could be causing you untold misery. To make sure you don’t miss any spots, and to make your home summer-ready, here is an essential deep cleaning checklist for your home.

Hidden mold

Double-glazed windows are excellent for saving you money on your energy bills, but unfortunately they make it easier for moisture and mold to sneak into your home. If there are any areas that smell particularly musty, you should not hesitate in calling in a mold specialist. Watch out for symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, dry eyes, or rashes.

Cleaning

[Photo courtesy of Nick Youngson/picserver.org]

If an area of mold is less than ten square feet, then you can attempt to clean it yourself. Just make sure you’re wearing safety goggles, non-porous gloves, and a particle mask when cleaning. Check out DIY sites for more detailed guidelines on how to get rid of mold.

Water damage

If your plumbing has ruptured recently, your focus was primarily on getting the pipes fixed. However, once that problem is solved, you need to repair the damage that the water caused to your walls and floors. Leaving it untreated could lead to more mold, and therefore more health problems. It could also lead to property damage; whether it is metal, wood, or cement, these materials will all eventually be damaged when exposed to water. Contact ServiceMaster to get the damage fixed as quickly as possible.

Windows

Wash your windows on a cloudy day, once a month, so the sun doesn’t dry the cleanser before you can wipe it off, and start on the shady side of the house. A simple way to spot streaks is to wash with horizontal strokes on one side and with vertical strokes on the other, this way you will know which side has the streaks. Wait for a sunny day to dust the windows because the sunlight will reveal where the particles have settled. You should also clean the window tracks with a Q-tip to get rid of the dirt, grime, and dead bugs that have gathered there.

Refrigerator

It takes more than just clearing out the expired and smelly food to keep the refrigerator clean and  germ-free. Liquids that spill onto the shelves and trays collects mold, therefore posing a danger to your fresh food. The biggest culprits are the vegetable drawers; they are often forgotten until a vegetable starts to rot. Take the drawers out of the fridge and clean them with warm water and baking soda. While they’re drying on the side, wipe down the rest of the fridge with antibacterial wipes. Make sure you also clean the coils at the back.

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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.

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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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