Every household has its honey-do list, but inevitably you’re not always going to have time to cross off every project on the list. Rather than setting lofty goals that make it easy to procrastinate, the key to a productive and effective list is to be realistic. Start with the projects that will have an immediate effect on creating and maintaining a safer and healthier home.
“Keep your ‘honey-do’ list manageable. Move long-term projects to the end and bump up the jobs that will help make your home healthier,” said Mike Holmes, renowned and trusted contractor on HGTV and healthy home expert. “When you know you’re making a positive impact on your family’s health and safety, doing those jobs is easy.”
The Four C’s
Holmes also recommends following the four “C’s” for a healthier honey-do list:
Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans play an important role in reducing moisture in the home. Conduct a simple test by turning on the exhaust fan and placing a tissue up to the vent to check the strength of your vent fans. The fan should be strong enough to hold the tissue in place. Fans not working properly are ineffective at controlling smoke and humidity, and allow fumes, moisture and pollutants to circulate and settle throughout the home.
Inspect flue pipes — also known as stove pipes, smoke pipes and chimney connectors — on a quarterly basis for cracks or holes. Cracks in the pipes allow fumes and gases like carbon monoxide to enter the home rather than be funneled outdoors. If the pipes are cracked or corroded, call a professional to inspect them and possibly replace the pipes, as it may be a sign of a larger problem.
Use a Filtrete Ultra Allergen Reduction Filter to help clean the air in the home by removing airborne particles, such as mold spores, dust mite debris, bacteria and viruses from the air passing through the filter. Remember to change it at least every three months or more frequently if you have pets, burn candles often or are doing home improvement projects. The American Lung Association says that, poor indoor air quality in the home can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue.
Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors every month, and change the batteries at least twice a year. Don’t wait until the detectors are chirping, as that sound usually means the batteries are about to die and your family will no longer be protected. Remember, you can sometimes see smoke in the home but you can’t see or smell carbon monoxide.
Inspect your home using a moisture meter to locate hidden areas containing moisture that you can’t see with the naked eye. Mold thrives in areas of the home where moisture is present and can cause hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rashes, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Install weatherstripping around doors to seal gaps and repair or replace damaged window frames to protect the home from rodents, insects and other unwanted guests. Rodents and cockroaches, for example, may trigger allergy symptoms and even asthma attacks in those that are sensitive to them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bonus is that by getting rid of gaps you will also improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Regularly check gutters for leaves, pests and other excess debris and clean them out using a rake and hose at least twice a year. (Be careful not to push water underneath your shingles.) Neglected gutters may not drain properly and pose a risk of detaching and leaking water into the home. In addition to structural damage, the leaks provide breeding grounds for mold to grow in areas like ceilings and basements.
Garage and Basement Clutter
Remove trash and clutter from around the home and be sure not to let it build up for more than a few days. Unattended trash can be a breeding ground for pests and parasites that carry bacteria and viruses into the home.