Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.
Radon is a radioactive gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, which are radioactive metals break down in rocks, soil and groundwater. People can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing radon in air that comes through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes. Because radon comes naturally from the earth, people are always exposed to it.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General’s office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.
Lead, a naturally occurring metal, is abundantly found throughout the Earth. It has been used in a wide variety of products including gasoline, paint, plumbing pipes, ceramics, solders, batteries, and even cosmetics.
The United States government banned manufacture of lead-based house paint in 1978. In 1986, the government restricted the lead content of solders, faucets, pipes, and similar materials.
The sewer main drain is a crucial part of a home’s plumbing system. Unfortunately, since it is not visible, the main drain is also something most people don’t know much about. Many homeowners do not think about their home's sewer pipe until there is a problem―usually a sewer drain clog
There are several causes for sewer main drain clogs. Some are not preventable, such as tree roots and collapsing pipes. Other things can be monitored to help prevent frequent clogs. One important preventive measure is to be careful about what goes down the drain. Solid objects that are flushed down the toilet can become lodged and help cause a sewer stoppage. Also, excessive food and oils washed down the kitchen drain can contribute to sewer main drain clogs.
Moisture condenses into water droplets when warm, humid air contacts a cool surface. Cooking, bathing, drying clothes, washing dishes and other everyday activities add moisture to the air. Some heating appliances, including unvented natural gas or kerosene models, also increase the moisture inside your home. During the winter, windows, walls and doors that lack proper insulation are common cool surfaces. Uninsulated cold-water pipes are examples of cool surfaces in the summer. Droplets can accumulate on these surfaces and run down into the walls, windows and structural components, creating a good environment for mold and mildew that can create rot and peel paint.
The artificial process of applying controlled amounts of water to land to assist in production of crops. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscape, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall. Irrigation is often studied together with drainage, which is the removal of surface and sub-surface water from a given location.
If not 100% efficient you could be throwing tons of money down the drain or into the dirt.
Not all pool cracks mean that the pool is leaking, i.e shrinkage cracks are normal; they are shallow and just part of the curing process that occurs when the pool is first shot with gunite or shotcrete.
If a crack is a structural crack, there is a pretty good chance that the pool is leaking or will eventually leak. These cracks occur in the shell of the pool and may appear in various locations. The cracking may be vertical or horizontal or on the sides or bottom of the pool. The majority of structural cracks running through the concrete (gunite or shotcrete) will also be mirrored through the plaster coating or the tile area over the bond beam. Pools that are significantly out of level and also has cracking, tells you that problems exist; potentially structural cracking and leaks.
Cracks in your foundation come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is not unusual for foundation cracks to form within the first year of new construction, often near windows, corners of the walls or floors or in the longer sections of your foundation. Most are due to foundation settling and are usually not a cause for concern. If cracks become bigger or allow water to seep through, It's a good idea to call a inspector to see if it's becoming a bigger issue or becoming worse. Letting cracks go can be one of the biggest mistakes a home owner can do. If you are unsure about your foundation cracks, monitor them to see if they are increasing in size. Simply use a pencil to mark off and date the ends of each crack. Within a period of time, you will be able to tell if the crack is due to natural settling or if it indicates a more serious problem. Tracking them will also help foundation repair experts determine how they were formed and the best way to fix them.
Negative grading can cause issues with your foundation, that can end up costing a lot of money in damages to the house. To fix negative grading you must add dirt, or remove dirt, to change the grade. You create a slope so that the water drains away from the house. Grading is an important part of having a healthy foundation and yard. Your home’s foundation sits on dirt, and the dirt that is built up around the foundation must be at the correct grade to shed storm water. This is done to keep water from pooling up at the foundation, and potentially damaging it. You want to have a downward slope, going from your foundation walls to the rest of the yard. This can be a 6-8 inch slope. The slope should allow water to shed away from the foundation, and into the yard.
When done correctly, your landscaping should be used to help form the slope. This can be done by putting in topsoil, so plants, or grass, can be grown up to the foundation.
For many years asbestos was commonly used in older homes. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material, was used in home construction for its its fire retardant and thermal insulation properties. Despite these properties, asbestos is a serious hazard to health and causes many thousands of deaths every year around the world.
Although now banned in South Africa, the legacy of asbestos remains hidden in various shapes and forms for many years to come, threatening lives at home and at work.
It is almost impossible to identify asbestos simply by looking at an item, which makes it difficult to locate asbestos in your house.
Unfortunately, the easiest way to identify asbestos is also the most dangerous, because that means the asbestos fibers are exposed and could find their way into the air that you and your family are breathing. Asbestos fibres may result in serious diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer. Since the level of exposure that may cause health problems is unknown, any exposure to asbestos should be avoided at all costs.
A variety of insects can damage wood. Some of them actually eat the wood, while others destroy it when they burrow into the wood to create nests. Small holes or sawdust on the surface of the wood can indicate damage by insects, but in some cases, damage isn’t visible to the naked eye.
The most well-known type of wood-destroying insect is the termite. Termite issues in Michigan are largely caused by subterranean termites. The presence of these tubes along your foundation is a sign of a termite infestation.
Carpenter ants are commonly found in kitchens (especially around dishwashers), in bathrooms and in other areas of the home where water damaged or rotted wood is present. Powderpost Beetles is a general term used to describe specific wood-boring insects that reduce wood to a flour-like powder. These pests primarily impact unfinished, unpainted and/or unsealed wood that has low moisture content.
Carpenter bees can be a serious property threat, as they can cause structural damage over time if left untreated. Male carpenter bees can be territorial and may hover in front of one’s face aggressively, but they have no stinger and these actions are merely for show.
The fact that millions of houses in the United States still have lead paint that could pose health problems for residents. 1978 is a year that many may recognize as the moment in which the US government stepped in to address this issue.
This may lead some to believe that any home built after this year will have no chance of containing lead — but this is not necessarily the case. The original 1978 ban on lead paint only placed limits on manufacture and sale, not use. As such, households and home buyers with structures built on or shortly after that time may also need to consider their properties at risk for lead.
When buying a home, it could be faulty for households to assume every structure built after 1978 is 100% lead-free. At present, sellers who own homes built prior to 1978 are required to notify buyers that the home may have lead paint due entirely to its age. Landlords typically have similar rules regarding lead paint disclosure. What buyers do with this information is generally left to them. Getting a lead test can be a very important item to have when buying a home.
Households across America may have hidden hazards that can impact the health of all occupants. Home health hazards include asthma triggers such as mold, lead-based paint, radon, pests, injury dangers and poor indoor air quality. Anyone can suffer from housing-related illnesses and injury; however certain groups such as children, the elderly, low-income or individuals with chronic illness are more at risk.
This website introduces some of these concerns and provides resources to help you learn what you can do about them.
No home is exempt from the possibility of hazards. Individuals living in new and older homes of any style or type all live with the risk of home health hazards that may include:
• Home drinking water quality
• Radon risk
• Lead-paint and product hazards
• Household chemicals and pesticides
• Excessive moisture and molds
• Asthma triggers
• Health and safety risk associated with home energy
• Home safety
• Combustion gases and carbon monoxide
• Remodeling hazards
• Take-home work contamination
• Asbestos containing materials
• Mercury containing products
Principles of Healthy Housing
The over-arching healthy homes principles are:
1. Keep homes dry
2. Keep homes clean and maintained
3. Keep homes ventilated
4. Keep homes pest-free
5. Keep homes free from contaminants
6. Keep homes safe and accessible
7. Keep homes energy-efficient