In the past few weeks, we’ve talked a lot about home safety – mainly, health hazards caused by mold and air quality. But there’s more to the health of your home than just the air you breathe. No, we’re not talking about slipping on banana peels. In this article, we’re going to explore the most common home hazards we’ve encountered in Upper Michigan homes.
The electrical system in an important part of nearly every house in the United States. And while it’s perfectly safe if installed and used correctly, there are several ways that your home’s electrical system could become a hazard.
The best way to ensure electrical safety in your home is to keep everything up to date. Old wiring may not be up to current code standards and could even be installed incorrectly. Another danger with older wiring is frayed insulation. Once the insulation protecting the wire is frayed or broken, the exposed wire can start electrical fires or cause shocks. Keep in mind that this applies not only the houses wiring, but also to cords on appliances as well.
For more information on how to keep your house safe from electrical hazards, read our blog “Don’t be Shocked: Electrical Dangers in the Home”.
Unless your home recently caught fire, you’re probably not thinking much about fire as a hazard. But the truth is, with the high number of wood-burning stoves, furnaces, and fireplaces used in Upper Michigan homes, fire is a real danger.
Now, that’s not to say using fire as a source of heat is inherently dangerous – there are hazards to every heating system. However, using a fireplace or woodstove without knowing the state of your equipment is an accident waiting to happen. Let’s look at what you can do to make sure you’re using fire responsibly.
Chimneys are an important, yet often overlooked, component of safe indoor wood-burning. If your chimney is damaged or blocked, get it repaired right away. Even if you don’t plan to use it, a damaged chimney can pose health and safety hazards. You can read more about chimney safety in our blog “Is Your Chimney a Hazard?”
Moving on to the woodstove or fireplace itself, ensure any connections between the stove and chimney are properly sealed. Otherwise, carbon monoxide and smoke could enter your living space. Keep stove doors closed and use a shield on fireplaces to prevent hot embers from landing on the floor and starting a house fire.
Regular and thorough cleaning of the fireplace or stove is essential as well, not just for safety but also efficiency. Keep vents clear from soot and ash, and all ashtrays should be emptied regularly.
For woodstoves specifically, ensure the stove is placed on a firesafe surface such as stone or tile, and that it is the proper distance from walls, furniture, etc. as directed by the manufacturer. Woodstoves put out a lot of heat, and flammable objects placed too close (including stacks of firewood) could catch fire.
Other Home Hazards
As mentioned earlier, we’ve already covered air quality as a home hazard. You can read more about it here.
While electrical systems, fires, and air quality are the most common concerns when it comes to healthy homes, there are certainly more. The best way to know what the biggest hazards in your home are is to get a maintenance inspection. Similar to an inspection done for buyers and sellers, a maintenance inspection gives you a thorough report of your home. You can find out why maintenance inspections are so important in our blog “5 Top Reasons to Get a Maintenance Inspection for Your U.P. Home.”