Potential Dangers That Come with Home Renovations
Renovating a house is a time-consuming, money-sucking and nerve-wrecking process. Besides the usual turmoil, there are many unpleasant surprises lurking around the corner, and some of them can even be scary, unsafe or dangerous for your health. The best way to protect yourself and your home from any unfortunate outcomes is knowing what you are faced with. Here are some of the most common dangers that come with renovating a home and how to prevent them (or what to do if they happen).
Let’s start from the biggest problem you can face. The condition of your foundation will affect the success of the entire renovation, but also the safety of your home in the future. The best way to avoid this is to examine the foundation before you even begin thinking about remodeling. This is done by an expert engineer who can tell you the shape of the foundation and how much more weight it can take. If you find out that your foundation is unsafe later in renovation, it might be too late because it will already create cracks in your walls or worse.
Release of lead or asbestos
Was your house built before 1978? Then its construction material probably contains lead or asbestos. Popcorn ceiling is also an indicator of asbestos. This is typical for old houses across the globe, including the U.S., Australia and Europe. Even small renovation projects that require damaging the walls, ceilings or floors carry the risk of inhaling the asbestos or lead released into the air which can be very dangerous for your health. To prevent that, make sure you wear a protective mask even for the least invasive projects.
Another problem that often appears in older houses is faulty electrical installation. There are several ways faulty electrical installation manifests itself, including short circuits, recessed electrical boxes, unsecured wiring, improper wiring size or length, unprotected cables, lack of a cable connector, lack of grounding or an electric system that is not in accordance with the National Electrical Code. The best way to deal with these problems is to leave the electrical work to professionals.
Plumbing is something that needs to be checked regardless of the date of construction of your home. However, it is especially important to keep an eye on when remodeling an older house. A situation that is typical for Australia is that owners of a house built before the 1960s have replaced some of their pipes, but not all of them. As a result, the combination of the new pipes and the old galvanized pipes leads to corrosion and clogs. For any experienced Melbourne based plumber, this is the first problem to check. Dated and leaky pipes are always the following suspects.
Pests and other nasty creatures
House pests and other scary creatures that may wander around your habitat are different for different areas. Some of them are more dangerous and some are harmless but annoying. For example, in the mentioned Australia, termites and wasps infest the building’s walls frequently. In the U.S., those are rodents and cockroaches. In any case, some of these unwanted guests are often noticed upon breaking a wall, unscrewing a can light or doing anything else that can expose them. Wearing full-coverage clothing with these tasks will protect your skin from bites, but if you suspect there could be pests in your home, you should probably call pest control.
Exposure to VOC
When remodeling, you should pay attention to the composition of the products you are purchasing, especially when it comes to paint, finishes and carpets. Some of them might contain volatile organic compounds (VOC) which can cause serious damage to your health when inhaled. Also, even if you buy VOC-free paints, stripping down old layers of paint which might contain VOC can release these dangerous toxins into the air. Protective masks, low-VOC products and natural ventilation can help you remain safe while renovating.
Being aware of the potential dangers of remodeling is just a step away from knowing how to protect yourself and your family from “renovation side-effects”.
About the Author:
Will Sandford is a Sydney based wood architect, blogger and contributor on interior design and ecology blogs. Besides that, he is also interested in home improvement combined with green technology. In his spare time, Will enjoys surfing and rock climbing. Connect with him on Twitter.