The Air You Breathe

Charlotte Meier of has written an excellent article with suggestions on how to maintain good air quality in your home. Whether your house is new construction or older, the potential problems are real. Here are five tips to help identify and correct risks that could cause long-term respiratory illness.

The Air You Breathe: Tips for Maintaining Safe Indoor Air Quality

It’s ironic that you can make it though cold and flu season without getting either, but still feel sick because of your living environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans are far more exposed to air pollution indoors than outdoors. That’s because there are many factors – many of them easily overlooked – that negatively impact indoor air quality, from mold, mildew and volatile organic compounds to poor HVAC maintenance. Many Americans risk long-term respiratory problems by failing to identify and act on risks that undermine the breathing air they take for granted every day.
As a new homeowner, it’s particularly important to do your research before you move in or shortly afterward. Whether you’re purchasing a brand new home or an older one, there are five main areas of concern.

Forms of microbial growth can be present in many parts of your house, from the basement to the upstairs shower. However, the worst source of danger may be your HVAC system. If, like many Americans, your air conditioning runs almost non-stop from May to September, it leaves considerable water residue in your air ducts and returns, which become fertile breeding space for bacteria and molds. When the blower comes on, those microscopic pests are distributed throughout the house, causing headaches, wheezing and coughing and exacerbating asthma and allergies.

For new homes: Have your air ducts cleaned professionally every year to minimize the risk to your indoor air, and your heating mechanism should be serviced regularly as well. Don’t forget to have your air conditioner’s drain line serviced.

For older homes: You can ask previous owners when the last time these tasks were completed, but you should still schedule an air duct and drain line inspection. If they need cleaning, schedule it before you move.

Have you ever belonged to a health club or gym and wondered how they stayed open with such filthy bathroom facilities, where mold and mildew could flourish? The same concept applies in your home bathroom; if mold is allowed to grow in the shower and/or bathtub, you and your family are at risk for infection and a variety of allergic reactions.
You can counteract the problem by regularly laundering your bath mat, hand towels and bath towels, sodden places where mites, bacteria and mold can grow. Try drying off in the tub or shower so you don’t drip quite as much on the bath mat. Also avoid using environmentally-harmful cleaning substances that contain bleach, instead using natural substances like baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice-and-water solutions.
For new homes: Minimize humidity by running your bathroom fan during and after you bathe. You should also squeegee your shower walls to reduce moisture by as much as 75 percent.

For older homes: In addition to the tactics above, you should fix all leaks before you move in, and ensure the existing fan works well for the room size. Replace or repair missing or broken seals wherever necessary.

Leaky pipes
Leaks can happen just about anywhere – under your sinks, inside your bathroom walls, or in subflooring. Undetected, leaks can lead to the spread of mold, which poses a real threat to people with breathing problems, such as asthma and respiratory allergies. Watch your walls and floors for water spots and check any exposed pipes for leaks. Be sure to dry and clean any leak spots with an eco-friendly solution containing vinegar, lemon juice and water.
For new and older homes: Your pre-purchase inspection should reveal any existing leaks or plumbing problems. Otherwise, consider reducing water pressure and using a water softener to lessen the strain on your pipes and prevent leaks.

You can be diligent about keeping the inside of your fridge clean and free of rotting fruit and vegetables, but still face an ongoing threat because of what happens on the outside of your refrigerator. Frost-inhibiting fridges melt frost build-up every few hours using an electric coil apparatus. The water melt runs off into a pan where it’s evaporated by warm air that’s automatically blown out by the refrigerator. In the process, any dust or mold build-up in your pan is spread to other parts of your home.
For new and older homes: The best solution is to clean the coils behind your fridge and the pan underneath on a regular basis, but take care to turn off and unplug the unit before cleaning.
Airborne pollutants constitute a dire threat to children with asthma, so it’s important to constantly clean and check your HVAC filter and prevent the build up of mold and bacteria and the accumulation of pet dander. An air purifier that uses a HEPA filter can be effective at controlling the spread of indoor air pollutants. Avoid using spray aerosols or plug-in air fresheners, many of which contain potentially-harmful compounds.
For new and older homes: Have the air quality in your home tested prior to move-in day. If you’re in an area of the country where industrial mining or other commercial industrial activity takes place, you should also check for contaminants like mercury, radon, and lead.
Poor indoor air quality is a serious problem in a great many American homes. A dangerous assumption that the usual methods we use to clean our homes will take care of any threats to our breathing air contributes to the problem. Knowing where mold and bacteria can build up is the first step in creating a home that’s safe for the entire family.



7 Things You Must Do When You Move

It seems like every other post on Facebook is a list of things you must do; 50 Trips You Must Take Before You Die, 11 Things You Must Do To Live Happily Ever After, 9 Restaurants You Must Try, 72 Reasons Why You Must Drink Water. The list goes on and on.

I’m not one to stand on the sidelines, so here’s my list of 7 Things You Must Do When You Move:

1. Change the locks – You have no idea how many keys to your home are floating around out there.

2. Find out where the closest hospital is – I meet newcomers almost daily. They all know where Home Depot is, but most don’t know how to get to the hospital if there’s an emergency.

3. Find a good HVAC company – Have your units cleaned and tuned and your ductwork cleaned. You don’t know when it was last done, or what kind of dirt and germs are being blown around you house. Even a new construction can have ducts full of the builders’ debris.

4. Clean the carpets – Once again, you have no idea what has been going on in the house before you moved. Did the previous owners have pets?

5. Go introduce yourself to your neighbors – Write down their names, phone number, and the names and ages of their children. That way you can just look it up when you’ve forgotten their names instead of hoping it will come up in a conversation.

6. Find a good pizza restaurant that delivers – No explanation needed here!

And most importantly,

7. When the welcome lady comes knocking on your door accept her visit – She has resources that will make your transition to the neighborhood easier by saving you time and money.

What other suggestions do you have? Share them in the comments below.


Unexpected Expenses

one-163442_1280I just heard a commercial that talked about the unintended consequences of moving. It was for a window treatment company, and they used the example of waking up at the crack of dawn the first morning in your new home, and realizing you need curtains.
Unintended consequences isn’t a term I would use. I think I would call them unexpected expenses. Invariably, with every move, there will be unexpected expenses.
My husband and I have moved often. He was looking out the front door of one of our new homes and commented that he had never noticed that little mound in the front yard before. He decided to check it out. As soon as he stepped on it, he was standing in water up to his ankles. The water main had broken. Talk about an unexpected expense!
The purpose of greeting services, like Welcome Home, is to help recent movers navigate through the unexpected expenses. We can recommend people to help with broken pipes, furnaces, cars, bones, teeth, and eyeglasses. We can recommend people to help with the things you thought you could live with, but now that you’re in the house, have decided otherwise. Your furniture looks shabby in your new house; that paint color has to go; you do need window treatments and to remodel. We can help with finding hair dressers, dry cleaners, dance classes and dog groomers.
Greeting services are here to help with the unexpected expenses of moving and to help you feel at home as quickly as possible.



Reflections on 15 Years of Greeting

file5361246659300Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of Welcome Home’s first in-home visit. During that time 4,543 new households and businesses have been welcomed to Batavia & North Aurora.

Things have changed a lot in fifteen years, and sometimes I wonder if greeting services are relevant in today’s society. Our lifestyles have become very hectic and it is more difficult to find people in their homes. Thanks to the internet, newcomers can find almost any information they need at their fingertips.

Is what I do relevant to them? Is it worth my time to seek out and meet with newcomers?

I have met some fascinating people and animals – a Medieval Times knight and a bomb sniffing Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms dog come to mind. I’ve met nurses, teachers, psychologists, 911 dispatchers, chiefs, waitresses, authors, office and factory workers, firefighters, police officers, moms, dads and people with big dreams.

I’ve heard horror stories about home sales and closings gone wrong, and amazing stories of how everything aligned so perfectly it was clear to me God wanted these people to move here for some reason.

I’ve laughed and cried with newcomers. Fortunately there have been many more joyful moments than tearful ones.

Do I love what I do? Absolutely! Do the newcomers love what I do? Absolutely! I am thanked over and over again for delivering gifts and information from the wonderful businesses that sponsor Welcome Home. People are overwhelmed by the generosity of the business community.

We may live in a world of busyness and perhaps we’re becoming more isolated, but as long as we need human interaction there is nothing that will ever replace the one-on-one personal touch of feeling welcomed to the community.