Owning, maintaining, and upgrading a home is a tricky balance of excitement and stress. One day you may be enthusiastic about all your big ideas to improve this and fix that, the next thing you know, you can end up doing everything possible just to keep your house standing. These are the risks of being a homeowner.
A lot can go wrong, even when you’re not working on your latest bit of home improvement. Spaces like the kitchen where water, appliances, and electric currents can make for a perfect storm of everything going wrong at once, can be not just a headache to maintain but can even be particularly dangerous. Take a look at these tips for how to stay safe in the kitchen if you love cooking and baking. The reality is that pipes, electricity, gas, and heat can all make a catastrophic concoction but as long as you stay on top of it, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
But the dangers become even more heightened when you are doing renovations. Fortunately, you can be prepared for potential problems. Next time you start working on home improvement, keep the following dangers in mind. Awareness is key and as long as you can see things as they are, you should avoid any major problems.
1. What’s behind the walls?
One of the most pervasive dangers when doing home renovations is the possibility of uncovering dangerous materials when you knock down the walls. Lead in the paint and asbestos in the floors and ceilings are the best-known dangers in this regard. On the other hand, it’s generally a good thing to discover these things as you may well have gone on for years on end breathing in toxic fumes without ever knowing about it. However, there are other risks that don’t attract quite the same sensationalism.
Mold is very common in older houses and can cause respiratory issues, especially for young children. Some molds are more of an issue than others, though, with black mold being especially hazardous and should be removed as soon as humanly possible. Some houses may also run the risk of radon exposure through the floors. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that increases the risk of lung cancer and it occurs fairly commonly in older houses and apartments but it can be easy to miss without the correct equipment.
Be prepared to test for these substances but also remember that you will need to find somewhere to live temporarily while the work is being done. It’s normally just a couple of days, but it can go on longer, the more your house has been neglected in the past.
2. Utility lines
Whether you’re working on your home yourself or hiring builders, you need to take into account the location of water and gas pipes, as well as electricity lines. It is easy to accidentally drill into a pipe and cause major problems. If you don’t notice the issue immediately, it can build up and become catastrophic. Flooding can destroy your property, ruin your home, and impact your electricity system, while gas leaks are extremely dangerous.
Call 811 before you start. They are the ‘call-before-you-dig’ organization who will give you information on where your utility lines can be found. It might sound like a headache to go through all this but the simplest slip can cause extensive damage and may even prove dangerous if you hack into an unprotected electric line, for example.
3. Dangerous pests
When you are doing home improvement, pests are inevitable. You’ll find them under floorboards, in nooks and crannies, and even in the foundations of your home. However, some pests are more dangerous than others. Most will just damage your house or worse, your foundations, but there are a few that can be particularly hazardous to your health if you accidentally disturb them.
The likelihood of finding a beehive or wasp nest may be low in your area, but bashing down a wall to find such a thing could lead to serious injury or even death. Be careful when you are opening up uncharted territory, and always get the experts in to deal with what you find. Wearing some protective gear when breaking walls or ripping open floor boards is a good idea too.
4. Foundation fears
Even if you are hiring the best builders, there is always the chance that a mistake will be made that compromises the foundations of your house. It may be that a load-bearing wall is knocked down or that construction work causes fissures and cracks in your walls. While unlikely, it is always a good idea to take any fears seriously. If you have a sneaking suspicion that a part of the house is a bit shaky, do your due diligence. You should never put yourself or your family in danger for fear of coming across as paranoid.
Foundational issues can be much more severe than problems with your home itself and should be treated with utmost seriousness. Such damage can be extremely expensive as they can weaken the basic safety of your own home.
5. Hearing damage
Finally, if you are doing the work yourself or are at home while construction is being done, hearing damage is a real possibility. Construction is loud, but it is the persistence of the noise that causes the issues. If you can’t be somewhere else, consider wearing earplugs to protect your ears. It’s not just physical harm that you have to worry about in this area because we all know how irritating banging, clanging and drilling noises can be and if you have existing mental health issues, especially around anxiety, it can go from being a pain in the neck to being a full-blown mental health crisis.
Home improvements can be dangerous but knowing about the dangers can ensure you’re prepared for all possibilities. They usually require simple steps to fix but if there is something more serious, just keep a level head about it and call in the experts. That’s what they’re there for.