Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

Homeowner Know-How: DIY Air Quality Tests

2 minute read

Air quality is important. That’s easy to say, but it can sometimes be tough to put into practice. First off, it’s not always obvious when there’s a problem with your air quality. Maybe something smells a little bit off or the air feels different in certain rooms compared to others. If you want to know for sure, it’s helpful to run some DIY air quality tests in your home.

Let’s take a look at the different DIY air quality tests available, see how much they generally cost, and decide when it’s time to enlist professional help.

Types of DIY Air Quality Tests + Costs

Mold

Sometimes the best test for mold is your nose. You or a relative likely have smelled mold before, and you shouldn’t be afraid to trust your instincts. But if you have a recurring problem area in which you want to confirm the source and type of mold, DIY kits can be useful.

Remember that mold is often the result of trapped moisture, so proper ventilation is important in preventing its growth.

Typical Cost: $8-85

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are the result of cooking, cleaning, and the presence of chemicals. They’re why it’s important to ventilate the kitchen and any area in which you’re cleaning, painting, or storing chemicals. There are a range of options available, so make sure you’re getting one that tests for the specific concerns you have in your home.

Typical Cost: $90-400

Carbon Monoxide

Constant monitoring is more important than testing for carbon monoxide. There should be a CO detector on every level your home. And if you have an attached garage or share walls or entryways with a neighbor in a condo or apartment, there should be a detector installed in that area.

Typical Cost: $15-30

Lead Paint

The dangers of lead paint have been known for decades, but some old construction might be at risk. So if you’re moving into or renovating a home built before 1978, you need to test for lead paint.

Typical Cost: $12-50

When to Call a Professional

It can seem cost-prohibitive or intimidating to hire a professional to test and analyze the air quality in your home. But it’s important to keep in mind that the sooner you can identify and remedy a problem, the less exposure you’ll have and the less you’ll have to pay to clean it up down the road.

The DIY air quality tests mentioned above are a great place to start, and it’s helpful to think of them as preliminary screening tools. If they reveal anything out of the ordinary, then you’ll want to call in a professional who can fully diagnose the problem.

Find a pro in your area. Among other offerings, they can test and repair your air filters and ventilation systems, two crucial aspects of creating a quality air environment in your home.

Airborne issues can form any time, but always remember that you can take control of the air quality in your home.

Environment | Healthy Home |

Spring Home Checklist: Your “Honey Do” list has arrived!

2 minute read

Your “Honey Do” list has arrived! Below are some important and relatively easy home maintenance projects you can complete in a few weekends. Print this page out, hang it on the fridge, and check them off as you go.

Home Maintenance “Honey Do” List

  1. Inspect Your Foundation: From outside your house (and inside, if you have a basement), inspect your home’s foundation for cracks.
  2. Look in the Attic: Especially if it’s unfinished, the attic may be a place you rarely venture. However, like the basement, it says a lot about your house. Look for leaks and signs of rodents or bugs. Also, look for mold, which may appear as gray or black stains.
  3. Check the Gutters: No one wants to go out in a storm. But the next time a moderate rain blows through, throw on a slicker and take a quick walk around your house. Confirm that water is making its way to the downspouts and not running off the sides or over the top of the gutter.
  4. Service the Air Conditioner: A spring check of the cooling equipment should be performed each year. Maintained equipment runs more efficiently and last longer.
  5. Use a Pressure Washer: While spring cleaning is going on inside, there is plenty of home maintenance to do outside as well. A pressure washer is a great way to remove algae, mold, dirt, and other stains from a house with vinyl, aluminum, or other engineered siding.
  6. Repair Cracks and Potholes: In cold climates, ice and snow do a number on sidewalks and driveways. Fill in or patch any defects that could lead to injury for you, a loved one, or a passerby.
  7. Inspect Your Deck: Take a look under your deck and make sure there are no rotted boards or broken supports. This could be dangerous when you invite a big group over for a BBQ.
  8. Reset the Patio: Prevent stubbing your toe or tripping your mother-in-law by leveling out raised or sunken bricks. You will need paver sand, a trowel and a level.Home maintenance can also serve as marriage maintenance too.
  9. Sharpen your Lawn Tools: Grab a file and put a nice new edge on the blade of lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and other gardening instruments.
  10. Perform General Indoor Cleaning: Deep cleaning carpets and dusting hard to reach places can remove allergens and other irritants. A whole-home air purifier also helps trap dust and allergens as they travel through the house.

Healthy Home | Healthy Air |

Tips For Fall Home Maintenance

2 minute read

Fall is a great time of year to perform important home maintenance. We have some great home improvement tips. Autumn creates plenty of predictable yard work, such as raking leaves and cleaning gutters. However, there are a number of chores that are less obvious, but just as important, in order to get a house in tip-top shape before winter and to protect your family’s health.

3 Outdoor Home Maintenance Tips

When the gardening season draws to a close this fall, it’s time to begin working on projects outside of the house.

  1. Walk and Caulk: Reducing energy bills, preventing drafts, and keeping critters out of the house in the winter starts with a fresh bead of caulk around windows, siding, and joints. Before it gets too cold, stroll around the entire exterior of the home and seal any potential air leaks.
  2. Maintain Paths and Walkways: Even if your walkway looks safe now, it will turn treacherous when you add slush and ice this winter. Take a weekend to even out brick pavers or repair concrete.
  3. Wash Your Home: Many homeowners don’t realize how dirty their house can get. Even the best siding won’t shed all the dust, dirt, and rain that a house is constantly exposed to. While some synthetic sidings don’t hold paint, they can be given a face lift with a power washer.

3 Indoor Home Maintenance Tips

Of course, no fall home maintenance checklist is complete without ensuring the inside is safe. Here are a few home maintenance tips that you can make to save money and improve health and comfort.

  1. Cover Windows: If your home has older windows, they could be a significant source of heat loss. While installing new windows is the best solution, using plastic to insulate drafty, single-pane windows can save considerable money.
  2. Improve Humidity Control: Heating your home this winter is bound to dry out the air. This leads to sore throats, bloody noses, and even a greater chance of upper respiratory illnesses. Help protect your family’s health and comfort this winter with a whole-home humidifier.
  3. Improve Air Purity and Freshness: When fall begins, it’s usually time to replace air filters. A whole-home air purifier can also trap fall allergens, bacteria, and viruses, helping to keep families healthy all year round. Proper ventilation can also improve air quality by removing harmful air pollutants such formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and many volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Home maintenance in fall is essential to keeping family members safe and comfortable during the winter, and we have products specifically designed to improve comfort and protect investments from seasonal changes in humidity.

Environment |

Summer’s Most Common Bugs

2 minute read

When it comes to a love of humidity, humans and pests are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While we tend to despise air that is thick with heat and water vapor, most bugs actually thrive in it and need it to live.

Unfortunately, this means that the impending summer humidity in certain parts of the country is about to bring these summer pests out in a big way.

Summer’s Most Common Pests

Cockroaches

The German cockroach is the most common roach species infesting our homes in North America. They are attracted to warm and humid places, making your kitchen and the water heater in the basement their most frequented hideaways.

Silverfish

These small, wingless insects are nocturnal and need to keep their bodies moist at all times in order to survive. You are likely to find them beneath boxes or furniture in your basement, the shower, or hiding in your kitchen.

Centipedes

Carnivorous and nocturnal, with their 100 feet, these pests can move quickly and spend most of the day hiding in humid, secluded places. They are highly attracted to the moist, humid parts of the home because they need to rehydrate constantly in order to live.

Earwigs

Known to burrow into topsoil outside, these nocturnal bugs can also infiltrate dark and humid areas of your home. You are most likely to find them around floor drains, bathrooms, or under rugs or furniture.

Roly-Poly Bugs

Also known as pill bugs, sow bugs, potato bugs, or armadillo bugs, these bugs often infest damp basements.

Tips to Prevent/Eliminate Summer Pests:

Healthy Home |

Professionals Needed: Here Are The Home Projects You Should Never DIY

2 minute read

So you bought your first house and can’t wait to rip up that crummy carpet. Go for it! But if you hit dirt, you might need to call in backup. As more millennials take the plunge into home ownership, it’s becoming more and more common to see DIY projects big and small. Things like carpet removal are doable. But no matter how many tips and tricks you’ve picked up from HGTV, Pinterest, or YouTube, there are some projects that simply aren’t worth the money, time, or risk to do yourself.

Setting Limits on DIY Home Projects

Skill Level for DIY Home Projects:

For some people, DIY is a way of life. For the rest of us, we need to be honest about our skills and level of experience. Sometimes a “simple” job can actually be a lot more complex than it appears. Hire a professional for these projects before you try it yourself and make a mistake that costs way more to fix.

  • Paving your driveway
  • Custom kitchen and bathroom jobs – backsplashes, flooring, countertops
  • Pest removal
  • Window Installation

Time Commitment for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement jobs can take weeks to complete when you try to do them yourself. For big projects, hiring a professional will mean a quicker and more efficient job done well so you can get back to enjoying your home without interruptions.

  • Large landscaping projects
  • Flooring
  • Demolition

Permission for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement projects require permits due to building codes. Save yourself the headache, and possible code violation, by hiring a professional who’s familiar with the process when it comes to these types of jobs.

  • Additions and remodels
  • Deck or patio addition
  • Major electrical/plumbing work
  • Pool installation and repairs

Safety Risk for DIY Home Projects:

If there’s any question of your ability to do something without injury or structural damage to your home, it’s most definitely a job for a professional.

  • Mold, asbestos, lead removal
  • Tree removal
  • Roof and foundation repairs
  • HVAC system installation and repair

When you’ve decided you need a pro, try to keep the process simple to save you time and headaches. Start by reaching out to a few trusted contractors in your area to get estimates on the work, (recommendations from friends are a great place to start) and then consider price and professionalism before making your decision.

When it comes to HVAC work, we make it easy to find a pro. Along with plumbing and electrical work, HVAC is an area where it’s crucial to get the job done right the first time.

Sources:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/millennials-take-on-diy-projects-with-more-confidence-and-budgeting-discipline-than-previous-generations-300813538.html

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/10-home-projects-you-should-always-hire-a-pro-for/

https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/quick-tips/8-household-projects-to-leave-to-professionals/

https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/diy-home-improvement-projects/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/projects-you-should-not-diy_n_3923456

https://www.hallerent.com/blog/when-to-call-professional-for-home-improvement-repairs/

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OAS

AA Homepage Articles | Wellness |

Foods That Can Trigger Ragweed Allergies Causing OAS

2 minute read

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Are you one of the 23 million Americans who suffer from a ragweed allergy? Ragweed is everywhere in the U.S., especially in eastern and midwestern states. Its season starts late in July and early August and ends in mid-October. This common allergen can feel impossible to escape. While a ragweed-producing plant typically lives for only one season, each plant can release up to 1 billion pollen grains that have the potential to travel great distances on the wind. And being outside on a day with elevated ragweed counts isn’t the only way you might be affected. It can also travel into your home on the foods you eat causing Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).

Foods and Oral Allergy Syndrome

“Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is a form of a contact allergic reaction that occurs upon contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables. The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although in rare cases, the reaction can occur more than an hour later…OAS can occur at any time of the year.”

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

Foods that may cause OAS in a person with a ragweed allergy include:

  • Banana
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew melon
  • Watermelon
  • Chamomile tea
  • Cucumber and zucchini
  • Honey that contains pollen
  • Sunflower seeds
  • White potato

Eating these foods, especially during allergy season, can result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Itchy throat/tingling sensation
  • Watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swollen lips

How to Avoid OAS

In order to manage your OAS symptoms, it’s important to avoid eating any of these foods raw. Baking, cooking, or microwaving food reduces cross-reactions because the high temperatures break down the proteins that cause OAS.

Peeling foods before eating helps remove the high concentration of proteins found on the skin. And canning your fruits and vegetables or eating canned produce can also limit your reaction.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any adverse reactions when consuming raw fruits and vegetables. They can help you identify your allergies and learn how to avoid them.