Older homes and apartments make for beautiful living spaces, and when properly maintained, they are a valuable asset for your family. However, without regular maintenance and updates, dated homes may be hiding serious issues that not only compromise your comfort, but also the health and safety of you and your family. The following safe home checklist, which includes issues ranging from electrical safety to air quality, will help you ensure that your living space is a safe, welcoming environment for all its residents.
When many older homes were built, safety standards were vastly different than they are today. As a result, some electrical systems might not have been grounded, safely installed, or designed to handle today's electricity demands. To ensure a safe home, the Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends that you schedule an electrical inspection for any home over 40 years old or if your home is over 10 years old and has had major renovations or appliances added.
Another common problem in older homes and apartments is insulation. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, asbestos is often found in insulation, covering, siding, and roofing materials used on homes built between 1930 and 1950. Asbestos has since been associated with certain types of cancers.
However, material containing asbestos only poses a hazard when it's broken or damaged -- this is when it may release harmful fibers into the air. To ensure that you have a safe home, hire an inspector to determine if asbestos is present in your house and if it needs to be removed.
Most homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint, as the metal was a common component used for pigmentation and as a binding agent. Today, however, the health risks associated with high exposure to lead are widely known. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are exposed to lead-based paint can experience serious health problems, such as reduced IQ, delayed growth and development, hearing loss, nervous system damage, and seizures.
An inspection or assessment for lead is a key step to ensuring that your home is safe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains that a certified lead inspection can help you decide whether you need to eliminate lead hazards or if proper maintenance will keep you and your family protected.
Aging plumbing is notorious for developing issues over time, and older homes may have other plumbing problems that can cause health concerns, especially to children and pregnant women. Homes built before 1986 tend to have lead pipes, fixtures, and solder that can deposit a substantial amount of lead in the water, says the EPA. If you have older pipes in your home, it's important to have your plumbing upgraded by a professional.
Mold can grow anywhere where there is moisture in your home. The most common areas for mold growth are behind wallpaper, on walls, above ceiling tiles, under carpeting in bathrooms and basements, around past water leaks, and in condensation-prone areas. Since dead mold can cause health issues long after it has been killed, be sure to maintain a safe home by removing mold immediately. You'll need to hire a professional to handle removal if the mold covers more than 10 square feet, is growing in your HVAC system, or is caused by contaminated water.
As you check each item off this safe home checklist, you'll have further peace of mind knowing that your house is a safe abode for your family each and every time they open the door.