Our homes are where we spend most of our time. It’s where we should feel the most safe and secure. When we think of safety, most homeowners think about things like proper locks on the door, working smoke detectors, and home security systems. What they may not consider are the silent problems in our homes that make our houses a little less healthy. Here are a few things you can do to keep your house healthy and your family safe.
1. Test for Radon
January is National Radon Action Month in the US, and it’s a good time to test your home for radon. Why? In the winter, we tend to keep our houses more tightly sealed, so you can get a more accurate reading of the radon levels in your home. Why is this important? Long-term radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. You can’t see, smell, or taste radon – the only way to know what your levels are is to test.
2. Check and Change Your Air Filters
Think of your HVAC system like the lungs of your home. You want to make sure they’re running smoothly and efficiently. What’s the best way to do that? Make sure your filters are in good shape. Generally, you can get away with only changing your filters every three month. But during months when your system is in overdrive (like during the winter), I check and replace mine monthly. This will keep your system running well, and ensure the air quality in your home is good.
3. Install a Heat Recovery Ventilator
Speaking of air quality – how often do you think of the quality of the air you breathe in your home? Often times the air in our homes can actually be worse than the air we breathe outdoors. Especially now, as we’re building our houses to be better sealed and more airtight, it means that we could be at risk for breathing that same recycled poor quality air. How do we fix that? A Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) is designed to supply and distribute fresh air from the outdoors and expel excess warm air from inside the home. Not only will this help mitigate issues like condensation and wet windows, it also keeps your indoor air fresh.
4. Reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
The materials you choose for your home can have an overall effect on your health. There’s a good reason we don’t use asbestos in our building materials anymore. The average home contains many building materials and finishes that off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Everything from furniture, paint, cabinets, carpet, and more contain VOCs that could be off-gassing in your home for months, or even years. VOCs can have a large effect on our indoor air quality – and you’ll find that homes that have been recently renovated often contain higher levels of VOCs. There are products on the market that contain fewer, or no VOCs. When you’re choosing your finishes for your next renovation, consider looking for carpets and paints that are lower in VOCs to make your home healthier.