5 Secret Dangers Lurking In Your Home
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UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020
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We love our homes: we take care of them, we add to them and remodel them, we purchase homeowners insurance for them, and we generally do our best to make them the best they can be. The problem is that there are problems we can’t see, which can cost us thousands of dollars (or even render our homes uninhabitable) before we realize there’s a problem.
Here are the five most common problems that you can’t see, but will cost you. Read on to find out what they are and then be sure to enter your zip code in above for free insurance rates!
All homes have the possibility to harbor some form of mold. That’s because moisture is all that mold really needs in order to grow, although it does prefer wood and other cellulose based materials. In England, for example, 47% of homes were found to have some form of mold growth. If it’s rainy — or even just has high humidity — where you live, your home may have mold.
The main problem with mold is its spores. Spores are how mold reproduce, and they are extremely difficult to kill, with some spores even able to survive in space. Inhaling them can trigger serious health problems, especially from people suffering from asthma, recovering from surgery, or the very old or very young. In extreme cases, fungi such as stachybotris atra can cause toxic — even fatal — reactions.
Even worse, mold can reside anywhere in your home: your walls, your floors, your HVAC system, your pipes … anywhere there’s moisture, mold will grow.
How To Stop It: Ensure that your pipes are in good repair to limit the spread of mold inside walls and in your basement. Clean your HVAC system regularly to kill mold before it starts. And above all, keep moisture down in your home.
Termites cause $30 billion in damage a year, and your average homeowner will have to pay $3000 to stop them. In fact, termites are so common, and so dangerous, that Americans spend $5 billion a year keeping them from destroying our houses, and insurance claims can total thousands per infestation.
Even worse, while experienced termite inspectors are great at their jobs, they’re not X-ray machines: they can’t see damage deep in the structure of your house. One termite colony alone can have thousands of termites, all of them eating at your house’s infrastructure and making it more and more unsafe. Finally, termites can easily be mistaken for ants. While termites can be killed or otherwise controlled, it’s difficult to kill a colony completely, not to mention preventing a new one from moving in.
In the worst case scenario, termite damage will be so extensive that your house could be condemned, with you completely unaware of the problem until you find evidence of major structural damage and housing inspectors are forced to come in.
How To Stop It: If your house is made of wood, treat it regularly with anti-termite chemicals. Use a professional; home termite control products are not as effective as the chemicals used by a licensed termite exterminator. Consider removing any wood and replacing it with steel or similarly strong materials. And keep a sharp eye out: if you see a termite in your house, call an exterminator right away.
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Imagine a gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive. So radioactive, in fact, that it’s a major cause of lung cancer. It exists: in fact, it’s a chemical element. It’s radon, and it is a major health risk in your home.
Radon comes from the breakdown of small amounts of uranium, found in soil, rock and water. As such, radon gas can emerge anywhere in the U.S. It’s radioactive, but generally not a threat unless you breathe it. Which, of course, is the entire problem.
One in 15 homes are estimated to have an elevated level of radon, and it causes 21,000 deaths by lung cancer a year, second only to smoking.
How To Stop It: Fortunately, testing for radon is easy to do: test kits are cheap and widely available. If you do have radon in your home, hire a qualified mitigator and have him install a radon fan; it will suck that radioactive gas right out of the air, and disperse the radiation harmlessly.
4. Electrical Fires
Each year, 28,600 fires are caused by electrical problems. They cause over a billion dollars in property damage and kill 310 people a year.
But worse than the financial damage is the emotional devastation. An electrical fire can spark without warning, and destroy your entire investment in your home — and take all your possessions and memories with it. It’s often said the most difficult part of any fire is recovering from losing your family photographs and heirlooms. Electronics and furniture can be replaced, but memories can’t.
How To Stop It: In older houses, have a qualified electrician examine your wiring to ensure it’s up to building code specifications. Avoid using lamps and incandescent light bulbs where possible. Don’t misuse extension cords, such as laying them down in high traffic areas or placing rugs over them. Finally, don’t put a strain on your circuits: limit the number of objects plugged into an outlet to two or three.
5. Burst Pipes
The pipes freeze in over 250,000 homes, every winter. All it takes is a small air leak near some standing water in a pipe, and the water freezes with a force so intense that it can rend metal and shatter plastic with ease. Then, the water really goes to work: flooding your basement, leaking in your balcony, destroying your furniture, and in cases where the homeowner isn’t there to fix it, ruining a home beyond all repair.
Your average frozen pipe will gush 250 gallons of water every day. Even just one day can ruin the appliances in the basement. Even worse, once you drain the water, the moisture will pave the way for … mold.
How To Stop It: For pipes in exterior walls and basements, insulate them, using spray-in foam, snap on lining, or other types of insulation. Also, seal any air leaks that you can find. Finally, be sure to completely drain any water from exterior faucets.
It’s worth remembering that no home is 100% disaster proof. There will be things that can happen that will be beyond your control. But focus on the things that you can repair, restore or prevent, and you’ll make your home happier, cleaner, and safer.
Why not see how much you can save on your insurance? Enter your zip to start right now!