Owning our own homes is a life long dream for most people. After all, the majority of individuals spend a minimum of 50% of each day in their homes. Quite often we view our homes as much more than some walls to keep the animals out and a roof to keep the rain out. We consider our homes a safe and healthy haven, sort of a sanctuary to shelter us from injury, illness and the dangers of the world. However, have you ever considered that your home may be hurting your health? Yes, an unhealthy home can often times be directly related to poor health, and unknowingly our homes may be responsible for making us sick.
There are many items around a home that if left untreated can rob us of our health. And many hazards may be hiding right under are noses and we aren’t even aware there’s a problem. In an older home, peeling paint on walls and ceilings may contain lead, excess moisture may cause mold problems, and even clutter can be an attraction for insects or rodents. Of course there are the invisible hazards like carbon monoxide and radon that can be deadly.
Here is a sample of some of the unhealthy conditions that exist in many homes:
- High levels of radon gas
- Water leaks and moisture problems
- Structural problems in the home
- Lead-based paint
Because of my job I look at many homes and unfortunately many of them are unhealthy. I’m a real estate investor and travel throughout the country to purchase homes. However, the majority of the homes I buy are from the government that I acquire at county tax sales. Basically, when someone fails to pay their property taxes, the local government will eventually issue a tax lien against the home owner. Then, after a preset period of time the county will sell either a tax lien certificate (also called a certificate of sale) or a tax deed to the property. Investors like myself attend these tax sales and purchase the tax liens or tax deeds and use the home as an investment property.
Recently, I traveled south to Georgia hoping to purchase a tax deed on some properties on one of Georgia’s barrier islands. Luckily, I was able to acquire a couple of properties in a beach resort called Tybee Island. Tybee is located at the easternmost part of Georgia about a half hour drive from Savannah and is right on the Atlantic Ocean. Tybee Island is a small beach resort community with many older charming homes. However, many of these older cottages and smaller homes need some work to make them healthy. The biggest problems I find in many of these properties are peeling lead-based paints and some mold problems from poor ventilation and leaky pipes. Fortunately, these are problems that are easy enough to fix but, many homes I come across have more severe health problems.
Just like an unhealthy home can cause illness, a home that is healthy will help to prevent injury and disease. Fortunately, there are a few simple things that everyone can do to make a home a healthy home. This is a sample of what you’ll find in a healthy home:
- Good quality indoor air that is free of smoke and carbon monoxide and is well ventilated
- A safe, clean water supply where the water temperature is set to 120ºF
- A structure free from high radon levels, excess chemicals and lead
- A good solid structure that will keep out pollution, noise, pests and moisture
- A place that provides a safe environment with adequate lighting, smooth floors, handrails on stairs and various safety devices.
To help prevent your home from making you ill or causing injury, here are a few simple tips that everyone can follow:
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Test for lead-based paint in your home
- Keep your home clutter free to prevent accidents
- Ventilate bathroom moisture outside of the home
- Check for water leaks
- Check for proper ventilation throughout your home
- Test your home for radon gas
This is not an all inclusive list; it’s just a few suggestions to get you headed in the right direction. Remember, everyone could and should have a safe, happy, healthy home!