Is your home making you sick? This 5-point checklist may help improve your health

Taking a sip of tea

Cute young brunette covered in a blanket on a cold day enjoying a cup of tea

Do you have a sick house? According to WebMD, “Sick-building syndrome,” otherwise known as “indoor air quality” by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, can cause symptoms such as watering eyes, headaches, dry skin, nausea, heart palpitations, nosebleeds and chronic fatigue. Use this checklist to give your house a thorough physical and call in the professional if you identify a major concern.

Indoor Pollution

How to Keep Your Home Cool In Summer - Efficiently

HVAC is the biggest culprit or indoor pollution which can lead to respiratory issues such as asthma, allergies, coughing and headaches. Air-conditioning can leave traces of water in the ducts that become the breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

What you can do

In addition to changing your air filters as directed for your system, you should also have your ducts professionally cleaned once every 2 to 3 years. If it’s been years since your heating system had a check-up, get it looked at and potentially updated to make it operate efficiently and cleanly.

Invisible mold

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Water leaks that you can’t see can lead to hidden mold growth, making you sick without seeing the cause.  High humidity can also promote a breeding ground for mold. Mold is one of the greatest dangers to your home and family and can grow in as little as 48 hours on organic sources such as wood and drywall.

What you can do

If your house suffered from significant water damage, you need to call a professional immediately to have the area investigated for potential mold growth. If you spot any leaky areas, clean and dry the area and then contact a professional for mold remediation. Even without leaks, your home is still susceptible to old growth. You can help prevent this by purchasing a humidity monitor to measure, run fan vents when showering and cooking and open the windows when the outside has drier air.  If necessary, invest in a dehumidifier. Also take proactive measures to prevent moisture intrusion by properly diverting rainwater away from the house and watch for any sign of a drip on plumbing fixtures.

Dust mites

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Warning: you might start to feel itchy reading this. Look at your couches, chairs, pillows and mattress – it’s likely these microscopic bugs are enjoying a relaxing hangout where you like to lay. Dust mites thrive on the humidity and warmth provided by our bodies, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, live in every home, but can be especially problematic for someone who suffers from asthma or allergies.

What you can do

Small traces of dust mites might be inevitable in every home, but you can eliminate a large percentage of them with recurrent upkeep. Wash sheets and towels once a week in hot water to kill dust mites and bacteria and thoroughly dry before using or putting away. Also vacuum carpets, curtains and furniture, and dust frequently.

Bathroom dangers

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What’s designed to get you clean can also be disgusting and lead to health concerns for you and your family. Take a look at your shower head, when’s the last time it was cleaned? What about your bath mat? Shower heads carry high amounts of bacteria called Mycobacterium avium that once inhaled or swallowed can cause lung infections or pulmonary disease. When you step out of the shower, you’re helping to create the perfect breeding ground for mold, bacteria and dust mites on your bath mat. Go throw it in the washer now and make sure it’s completely dry before putting it back on the floor. Continue to wash it 1-2 times a month, and to help prevent the bacteria from growing, dry off before you step on the mat.

What you can do  

Clean your showerhead often and consider changing it out once a year. Wash your bath mat in cold water; schedule the wash on the same day as you wash sheets to help you be consistent.

Carpet and hardwood floors

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Your carpet is a cozy place for a lot of little dust mites and other critters to build their own homes. But when not properly maintained, your floors can contribute to allergies and other respiratory issues. Dust and allergens build up quickly, especially with pets, so it’s important that your carpets are cleaned frequently. Your hardwood floors can seep water damage easily and help push around dust particles in the air. With water spills, your floors can also rot and grow hidden mold.

What you can do

Along with vacuuming at least once a week, try to prevent outside particles like dirt and dust from tracking across your house. Take your shoes off at the door and keep a welcome mat outside your door to wipe your shoes off before you enter. Hardwood is a more environmentally- friendly and hypoallergenic choice than carpet, but requires proper care and treatment to ensure its longevity and beauty. Clean up any spills right away, like from your pet’s water dish or dropped ice cubes that fall from the fridge.

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