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Avoid These Health Hazards When Remodeling Your Home

Updated on May 19, 2017
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Are you giving your home a makeover to help you age in place? Or maybe a client or loved one is looking into ways to make their home safer. While updating a home or business to keep it safe is never a “bad” thing, there are a lot of health hazards to be aware of as you embark on any remodeling project, especially if you’re planning on living in your home as you work on it. The last thing anyone wants is to inadvertently make his or her home a dangerous place to live while attempting to make it safer. The glaring irony in a situation like this all too common, unfortunately. So, in order to avoid finding yourself in a dangerous situation, consider these tips to help you know what to watch out for, and when you may want to get a hotel room or stay somewhere else when remodeling your home.

Dust Particles

Especially in older homes because of lead paint and asbestos. If your contractor is sanding or knocking down walls, dust particles are going to be in the air. In older homes, that could mean undetected lead (from paint) or asbestos, which can cause lung cancer and other health problems

SOLUTION: Have your contractor or home –remodeler ventilate the rooms and seal them when they are not in use. If you have a home built before 1976, ALWAYS check for lead paint; if it was built before 1980, have it checked for asbestos and have it removed if you find it!

Fumes

Be they from painting or sealing wood floors, fumes can cause a variety of health problems. Some can even lead to long-term brain damage or death if they’re inhaled too long!

SOLUTION: If you are getting wood floors put in and/or stained, get yourself and your pets OUT of the house while this is being done! These fumes are dangerous. Plus, if one of your pets gets on the wet, wood floor and stays there, they will get stuck! If, for any reason, you have to be in the house while the floors are being stained, stay on a different floor with the windows open and try not to stay for too long!

Paint fumes are less problematic – you can stay in your home if it is being re-painted. Make sure the room you are painting is ventilated and that your pets can’t get in while the paint is wet. Wait several hours to a day for the paint to dry before putting furniture back (pro-tip: If you are painting your house, paint your bedroom and the spare room on different days – that way, you can stay in one while you are working on the other)

Trip Hazards

Wood planks, big tools, grab bars… these can all be left out by contractors (they shouldn’t) and pose a trip hazard to you.

SOLUTION: Make sure all extra materials: tools, supplies, materials to remodel, are stowed away OR pushed back against the wall out of any potential walking path.

Loose, Forgotten Materials

Like nails, staples, tacks, and other tiny objects that can be left around unbeknownst to anyone… until some unfortunate person steps on them!

SOLUTION: If you have to enter a room where work is being done, wear hard-soled shoes or slippers with a good grip! Be mindful of a room where construction or remodeling was just done; a nail or a screw might still be there.

Mold

Mold can give off toxic spores that cause serious health problems. It’s most likely to show up in the bathroom, kitchen, or in any room where there’s a lot of water.

SOLUTION: Assess your mold problem. If it’s a small one, it can be taken care of by your contractor (they should always wear a mask while doing this and make sure the room is ventilated and cleared out after). If it’s a big one, you need a mold expert.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Like fumes and dust, this one is a catch-all for a lot of stuff, including paint, paint strippers, glues, anything that’s smelly and chemically. They can be irritating to your eyes and respiratory system, especially after a while. What’s worse? Look at the list- every remodeling project is going to involve these!

SOLUTION: Wear goggles, a mask, and gloves if you are working on any remodeling project, keep the room well-ventilated where you are working, and when possible, choose low VOC products!

Consult A Professional

As with any information you find on the internet, it's always important to do your research. I encourage you to consult a professional before starting any renovations to your home. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your home.

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