Spring is a good time to give your home a checkup to see how healthy it is. Run some diagnostic tests and do some examinations to find problems that need treatment and to maintain good home health. The checklists below can help because you will become aware of places mold can grow, learn ways your air quality can be improved, discover good choices to make when remodeling, redecorating, or de-cluttering, and take note of where germs could be lurking.
Examine Your Home For Areas Susceptible To Mold Growth
All homes can fall prey to moisture that leads to mold. Use the checklist below as a guide for places to watch to help prevent mold.
Use Preventative Measures To Keep Your Home's Air Clean
- Keep tubs, showers, sinks, basement or crawl space, etc., free of mold. Application of a mold barrier can retard the growth of mold in these highly susceptible areas.
- Make sure bathroom ventilation fans are working properly, and use them to reduce moisture. If there is no fan, open a window or leave the bathroom door open after showering to let steam dissipate.
- Make sure houseplant soil is mold free. A mold barrier can protect soil.
- Inspect the roof from the attic to look for leaks. Be sure to check around nails and fans installed in the roof for water stains.
- Check the drain pan under the HVAC to see if there is any overflow or mold growing in or around the pan.
- Look for leaks around pipes - check under sinks, around appliances, and in the basement or crawl space.
- Check windows and pipes for condensation that can lead to mold.
- Monitor the relative humidity. In upcoming summer months, high humidity combined with high temperatures provide the perfect condition for mold growth. Air conditioning pulls moisture out of the air in your home. If the humidity is over 45-50%, a dehumidifier can help remove moisture and prevent mold. Remember to empty the bucket often and clean it so mold doesn't grow there.
- Clear out leaves around the foundation of your home where mold can grow and insects can thrive.
- Clean away algae on outdoor furniture, siding, decks, sidewalks, and fences.
The air your family is breathing can be affected by many elements. Use the checklist below to improve your indoor air quality.
Make Good Choices For Your Home's Health When Remodeling, Redecorating, Or De-Cluttering
- Change HVAC filters according to manufacturer's directions, usually every 3 months. Use the season change as a reminder.
- Test for radon. Click here for information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding radon.
- Use low chemical or vegetable-based cleaners and personal care products to minimize harmful fumes.
- Do not store open chemicals (gas, kerosene, paint thinner, etc.) in the garage or basement. Buy in small quantities that will be used quickly.
- Watch out for sources of carbon monoxide because it is odorless, colorless, and toxic.
- Keep gas appliances properly adjusted and inspected by an expert.
- Install and use an exhaust fan vented to outdoors over gas stoves.
- Open the garage door before turning on the car, and do not let the car idle in the garage even with the door open.
- Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
Since it's springtime, you may be feeling the tug to fix up and freshen up your home. As you make choices for remodeling, redecorating, or de-cluttering, take steps to prevent future home health problems.
Kill Germs To Help Keep Your Home Healthy
- Avoid using the space under the bed for storage. Dust will collect on stored items, and cleaning is difficult.
- Avoid cardboard boxes and paper bags for storage because they tend to hold moisture that promotes mold growth and insects such as cockroaches are attracted to them as a source of food.
- Discard or recycle old newspapers and magazines for the same reasons.
- Choose paints that are low in odor and volatile organic compounds or use an odor preventing additive. An additive to retard mold growth can also be added to paint.
- Avoid cloth window treatments & dust ruffles that collect dust or wash them every 2 weeks.
- Keep knick knacks to a minimum - garage sale them, pack them up, or give them away. Choose effective dusting tools for the ones you have to keep.
- Choose fabrics that can withstand repeated washings, even in hot water, when buying new bedding as that will help control allergens.
Consider leather that is more easily cleaned than fabric upholstery for new furniture.
- Avoid formaldehyde because it can cause eye and respiratory irritation. Studies are being conducted to determine if there is a link between formaldehyde and cancer, but results are inconclusive at this point. Click here for a fact sheet about formaldehyde from the National Cancer Institute.
- Ask if the products contain formaldehyde-based glue when buying new furniture or cabinets or beginning new construction.
Make sure sources of combustion that emit formaldehyde - stoves, fireplaces, gas appliances, and tobacco smoke - are properly vented.
Wash clothes and other textiles with a permanent press finish before use to remove formaldehyde.
Allow particleboard and plywood containing formaldehyde-based glues to off-gas before bringing them into your home, and increase ventilation.
Keep humidity and temperature in your home low as we approach the hot, summer months because these factors increase the emission of formaldehyde.
Ask the store to unwrap products containing formaldehyde before they are delivered and installed, or allow them to off-gas in a well-ventilated garage for a few days before installing.
Germs and bacteria are always growing in your home. The simple steps on the checklist below can help eliminate germs and prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, refrigerator door handles, light switches, remote controls, telephones, and salt and pepper shakers to kill germs.
- Clean garbage pails often to kill bacteria.
- Use a doormat so less dirt and dust is tracked into your home.
- Keep dust at a minimum because dust is made up of bacteria, pollen, pet dander, insect husks, industrial air pollutants, and mold spores. Store out-of-season clothes and extra linens in dust proof containers or bags.
- Regularly disinfect toys and give stuffed animals a washing.
- Be mindful of bacteria from food sources when preparing meals. Check wooden utensils and cutting boards for cracks that can hide bacteria, and replace when necessary. Vital Oxide is a hospital grade disinfectant but safe enough to use on food surfaces with no rinse required.
- Do not put items that could be covered with germs on your kitchen countertops, including keys, purses, money, and grocery bags.
- Use a cloth for cleaning countertops that can be disinfected in the dishwasher or microwave.
These checklists are intended to point out areas where your house may need a little help to be healthier, and maybe to remind you of some chores you have been meaning to do. Since your home has such a large impact on your health, determining what changes are needed and taking measures to improve your home's health is well worth your time and effort.