You’ve found the perfect home, packed up all your belongings, and you’re hitting the road! While it’s important to keep track of all your belongings to ensure they make it to your new place in one piece, it’s worthwhile to keep a few other concerns in mind. The house might be new to you, but there could be decades worth of bad decisions you could potentially have to deal with and should be on the lookout for.
Peeling, cracking, and chipping paint may be more than just an eyesore. If your new home was built prior to 1978, the paint may contain lead. Toxic paint is still present in millions of homes across the United States, but has often been covered with layers of newer paint over the years. The paint is rarely an issue when it’s in good condition, but ingesting old paint chips or dust can eventually cause lead poisoning.
Lead accumulates in the body and is stored in the teeth and bones. Although anyone is susceptible to lead poisoning, children face an especially high risk.
Signs of lead poisoning include:
- Renal impairment
- Damage to the reproductive organs
- Impaired IQ and cognitive function in children, believed to be irreversible
It is impossible to determine if your paint contains lead just by looking at it, so it may be best to have your home inspected by a professional before doing any renovation work. There are two types of tests that can detect lead-containing paint – an inspection and a risk assessment. Completing the inspection can alert you to sources of potential lead exposure to assure the paint maintains good condition.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless, invisible gas released whenever fuel is burned. No one is immune to carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional poisoning.
Common symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
Appliances should be serviced every year by a qualified professional to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. As an additional safeguard, install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check the battery each spring and fall when you change the time on your clocks. The detector should be placed outside of the bedroom so it can wake you up if CO levels exceed safe limits, and needs to be replaced every five years.
Americans spend 93 percent of their time indoors, so maintaining good indoor air quality is important. If your home was built between 1930 and 1980, there may have been asbestos used during its construction. Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, microscopic mineral able to resist heat and most chemical reactions. Due to those properties, it was used in a variety of items such as insulation, flooring, ceiling tiles, furnaces, broilers, and wallpaper. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer and has been outlawed in more than 60 countries.
Asbestos causes problems when materials and products containing it are damaged, allowing fibers to become airborne and possibly inhaled. If inhaled or ingested, the asbestos fibers may become embedded in the lining of the organs, including the lungs, heart or abdomen. In many cases, it can take 20 to 50 years for symptoms of an asbestos-related disease to manifest. Although mesothelioma is rare, its prognosis is poor.
If your home was built between the 1930s and 1970s, it is in your best interest to have an abatement professional inspect the space. If the asbestos-containing materials are in good condition, they can be monitored and encapsulated to prevent further problems from occurring. If the products are in poor condition, they may have to be completely removed. Removal is not cheap, but it pays dividends later on.
Whether it’s on bread or in your bathroom, mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, heating and air conditioning systems. It can also be brought indoors on clothing, shoes, bags, and pets. Typically, mold will grow in places with heavy moisture due to leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, and paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products are all good conduits for growth. In other cases, mold can grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpeting, fabric, and upholstery.
If you find mold in your home it is important to not only address the growth, but fix the source of the moisture. Mold can be controlled through decreasing humidity levels, and promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes. Shower, laundry, and cooking areas should also have proper ventilation to discourage mold growth. Keep moisture in check to preserve your new home.
A safe start
A new home is a new adventure and arming yourself with facts can only help make the transition go more smoothly. Hire professionals to inspect your home prior to moving in and make sure you’re well aware of any secrets that could be hiding in your dream home. Address the issues and then set yourself up for a happy and healthy house!