5 Home Hazards You May Not Think About
As homeowners, we strive to keep our property and family out of harm’s way, but there are some hidden hazards in your home that you may not have thought about. For example, there are key places in the home where fire can unexpectedly start, or damage to the home can threaten its structural integrity.
From fire hazards to structural threats, it pays to educate yourself and take precautions. These are five commonly overlooked hazards that you can take action to fix.
Clothes dryers: Perhaps it has been a while since your lint trap was cleaned? If so, move this task to the top of your to-do list. Here are the facts: Dryer fires start because of buildup of lint in the ducts or underneath the machine. Essentially, if lint builds up in the duct it can restrict the airflow to the motor, causing it to overheat. If lint under the dryer catches on fire, the draft can draw the fire up into the duct and a house fire can occur. Missing or damaged lint screens are also a fire danger. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 15,600 fires occur annually causing more than $75.4 million in property damage, injuring 370 people, and killing 20.
How can you take preventive action? Clean your lint screen before drying each load of clothes. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically and clean under the dryer as well. For extra safety, do not run your dryer if you are leaving the home or going to bed for the night. And if the clothes are still damp and hard to dry, it might be a sign that there is lint build-up somewhere in your system.
Termites and carpenter ant damage: Termites and carpenter ants can do tremendous damage to the structure of your home. It is not always obvious that they have moved in either. You can look for signs of their chewing on wooden surfaces like your window sills, below outside doorframes, and basically anyplace that wood from the home meets dirt, but it is best to get a pest inspection done by a professional (and regular pest treatments if needed) to reassure yourself that your home is protected against termite and carpenter ant damage.
Dirty chimneys: You know the chimney needs cleaning, but it is so easy to put it off. If you have a wood stove or fireplace, it is very important to get your chimney cleaned before each season of use. Other heating systems, such as your furnace, should also be cleaned each season to ensure safe operation. Don’t risk the chance that an undiscovered defect could turn into an expensive repair or, worse yet, a chimney fire.
Poor or DIY/amateur workmanship: Homeowners who try do-it-yourself projects beyond their expertise can cause major safety issues for the home. Things like installing electrical outlets and wiring should be completed by a licensed professional. If your home is older or has some outlets that don’t work, old or frayed wiring, or extra wiring that appears to have been added by an amateur, it is probably a great idea to call in an electrician to do a check-up for safety. Electrical fires can occur without much warning, and if they begin within a wall, fire can spread fast to other areas of the house.
- Poor maintenance: Homeowners who don’t perform routine maintenance can create hazards for the property and their family. Your to-do list includes things like upkeep of the water heater, furnace, and air conditioning systems, which should be serviced each year. A homeowner should maintain the caulking around tubs and showers to prevent water leakage and the growth of mold and mildew as well as structural damage to the wood beneath the surface. Fans and exhaust systems should have their filters changed and be cleaned regularly. Septic tanks should be emptied about once per year, depending on your system and number of occupants in the house. When a major system fails, it can cause structural damage and definitely will impact the family that lives there.
With a few precautions, you can limit unexpected hazards and risk of damage to your home, costly repairs that would follow, and potential injury to your family. It is worth the time and effort to be cautious and take preventive action.
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