Your home as a healthy haven

With the pandemic still swirling around us, the idea of home as haven continues to have a poignant meaning. Not only do we want to keep Covid out of our homes, but we want them to be safe environments in general.

With the pandemic still swirling around us, the idea of home as haven continues to have a poignant meaning.

Not only do we want to keep Covid out of our homes, we want them to be safe, healthy environments in general. Many readers have left New York City and are living in the suburbs, managing their own homes for the first time. Perhaps it was always something they planned on doing, but the virus pushed up the timetable.

Besides hand wipes and sanitizers, there are other elements we need to keep in mind for our homes to be healthy.

If there is a presence of Radon in your prospective home, you should address it before moving in. Radon can cause lung cancer even in nonsmokers. Usually this is checked prior to a mortgage lender giving you a mortgage — as is the removal of an oil tank from the ground, where it can leak into the environment — but should you do an all-cash deal, these things would need to be addressed before any money changes hands.

Similarly, asbestos should be removed or wrapped immediately. Use a licensed professional for this job. I would not even consider removing it without a proper professional. 

Your oil or gas furnace should be serviced once a year. During the service, your oil and gas company will clean your furnace and let you know if your burner is working properly or if it needs to be replaced. 

The same goes for your chimney. Soot can build up if it’s not cleaned and cause a spontaneous fire. If the soot is building up in your chimney, you can get a smoky smell in your home. Don’t wait until that happens. (And while we’re on the subject, don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least once a year and to have your fire extinguishers serviced.)

Lead-based oil paint, still present in many old homes, should be removed and walls redone with latex paints or other wall coverings.  We use paints with low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which do not give off gas-toxic fumes, in my work as an interior designer. It’s healthier for your painter and your family. 

Other home health and safety issues such as allergens are more insidious. To keep mold away, repair any leaks and clean vents and change filters in your HVAC units.

Pollen can easily drift into drafty, old windows. Consider replacing your windows. Not only will they prevent pollen from getting in, but they will also reduce energy consumption.  

Dust mites are actually everywhere. Consider bare floors and area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting to keep dust down, and vacuum (and dust) often. Ditto for changing linens. Indeed, Feburary is not too soon to start spring cleaning and take stock of what you need to change in your home’s hygiene.

Many of us have had pets join our families during the pandemic. As wonderful as they are, they need to be brushed and cared for. Here vacuuming can keep pet hair and dander down.

Keep your appliances clean and in good working order. There are several service companies that can come out to your home and clean your appliances. Consider getting your outdoor grill cleaned, too.  Don’t let charred drippings build up in your BBQ. 

Although we have talked about keeping the inside of your home fresh, your yard is another area to keep clean and organized year-round.

Driveways and walkways should be cleared of snow and ice and any outdoor furnishings that can’t be brought in should be polished, covered and anchored for their long winter’s nap.

Good spring and fall cleanups clear your property of fallen debris. Have leaves raked and removed to prevent them from rotting and creating more mold. Remove leaves and branches from your roof and gutters so that sun can shine in and keep your home dry.

Maintain your hardscapes. You don’t want to fall or have a guest fall on cracked or broken pathway and patio pavements. 

As you can see, owning a home is a lot of work, but it can also be rewarding emotionally as well as financially. Take care of your investment and it will take care of you, providing you and your family with many years of enjoyment.  

For more, call 914-447-6904 or email

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