Home remodeling is often seen as an exciting time to spruce up your home for resale or install all the modern conveniences for yourself to enjoy. However, a home remodel can also be an optimal time to improve your home and in turn improve your personal health. Your environment can have a major impact on your personal health, and homes can easily make you sick if you don’t clean regularly, get rid of dangerous material, or replace outdated appliances.
Surprisingly, even newer homes can have their own health dangers, and sometimes even the most simple improvements can have a positive impact on your overall health. Older home, especially, can often carry hidden dangers — anything from outdated pipes that have lead or other harmful chemicals in them to old vents and carpets that hold years’ worth of dust and germs.
So what home remodeling projects should you focus on if you’re trying to improve your environment with personal health in mind?
Health Dangers in Newer Homes
Home remodel shows on HGTV often focus on increasing home cost, improving design, and installing modern appliances. Shows like “Fixer Upper” will transform outdated houses into swanky new homes — complete with a “country chic” style and staged furniture (that the homeowners don’t get to keep). However, home remodel doesn’t have to be as expensive, nor as elaborate as television often makes it out to be. Plus, even newer homes are sometimes in need of health-wise remodeling.
Although newer homes are often more costly, they can still have their own host of health issues. Ventilation is one of the most common concerns with new homes, as the airtight seals on windows and doors that are meant to help keep in hot or cool air may also trap unwanted airborne particles. If the home isn’t fitted with proper ventilation ducts and air purifiers, then oftentimes newer homes can trap in humidity, dust, and pet dander.
People that suffer from asthma may have a harder time living in new homes with ventilation, so a remodel may be needed. Additionally, condensation from showers or hot water use can also allow mold to form in dark corners — which is never welcome in the home.
Other issues that you may face in newer homes include radon gas, carbon monoxide gas, and water contaminant issues. Radon and carbon monoxide are both odorless and deadly gases that can easily leak into homes new or old. The best prevention for these gases is to install proper detectors that can notify you if there is dangerous gas present in your home.
As for water issues, even newer homes can suffer from bad water. Although all the pipes within the home may be brand new, cities’ water lines can often contain harmful rust, iron or other chemicals, silt, and minerals. Installing a proper soft-water tank or home water filter may be needed to help you control and maintain the water that comes into your home.
Health Problems in Older Homes
Older homes often need remodeling, but not just so the home looks trendy — building materials have changed considerably over the decades, making a home remodel and upkeep a necessity for many homeowners. Anything from lead paint (which was used up until 1978, when it was banned in the United States) to PVC piping (which can contain phthalates that can cause reproductive health issues) could need replacing in older homes.
Unfortunately, another common problem found in older homes is asbestos. Although asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, it is still legal to use in the United States. Newer homes rarely use this dangerous chemical, but older homes built anywhere between the ‘40s and into the ‘80s often utilized asbestos in drywall, carpeting, insulation, and other building materials.
When remodeling old homes, you can very easily be exposing yourself to this harmful chemical if you tear down walls, remove old “popcorn” ceilings, replace old insulation, or pull up old carpeting, as the chemical becomes airborne once it’s been disturbed. Even automotive parts and plastics can contain trace amounts of asbestos. To avoid being exposed, it’s best to hire a certified asbestos removal agency that can properly remove, clean, and ventilate the house before you continue your remodeling projects.
Lastly, older homes are often in need of newer windows, doors, and sealant. Although it can be expensive to replace these parts of the home, they can easily make up for the high remodeling costs by providing you with a more energy-efficient home that isn’t going to leak out hot or cold air year round. Consider looking into the existing equity in your home, or pursue potential refinance options, in order to help fund this investment. Plus, proper sealant can keep your home free of bugs, pests, and other harmful outdoor allergens or particles. Just be sure to also update the ventilation so that allergens and humidity inside the home aren’t trapped and causing more issues.
Post-Remodel and Keeping Your Home Healthy for Years to Come
Home renovations can be extremely costly, but often increase the value of the home and will eventually pay for themselves — especially if you stick with energy-efficient and “green” materials. However, remodeling is only half the battle, and you’ll also need to make sure that you keep your house clean and efficient long after the construction is done.
It can be easy to forgot some of the more obscure tasks — such as checking or sealing leaky windows, cleaning out chimneys or fireplaces, cleaning HVAC systems, replacing air or heater filters, or checking for roofing issues — but these home maintenance items are important to track. If you need to, set up automatic alerts through your calendar app to check these areas of the home each season or every few months as needed.
Additionally, although spring cleaning is always a great excuse to do some deep cleaning, you should really be deep cleaning year round. The more you clean, the faster and easier it’ll be to keep on top of home maintenance!
So whether you’re remodeling your home to make it more accessible for your aging parents, putting in a new home gym, or simply sprucing up your home so you can increase its value — there are many ways in which you can improve your home and your personal health through house remodels.