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Head off health issues in the home

The ideal way to maintain healthy homes and properties is to practice prevention in addressing the hazards before they become dangerous, and using a holistic approach that tackles many hazards at once, according to the National Center for Healthy Housing. Here is the Center’s checklist for creating a healthier home. These costs are based on a typical two-story, single-family home, but can vary depending on location.

Keep it dry
Drain pan. Install a drain pan under your water heater to capture water and prevent moisture problems. Approx. Unit Cost $20

Dehumidifier. Place dehumidifiers in basements and other damp spaces to remove excess moisture. $130

Fix downspouts (includes downspout, elbow, and ex-a-spout downspout extension). Repair downspouts to drain water away from the foundation and prevent moisture intrusion. $25

Water alarm. Place a water alarm near the sump pump or water heater to notify you of flooding or water leaks. $10

Repair water-damaged ceilings (4-by-8-foot patch and installation). A drywall professional can replace/repair water damage to reduce mold growth and maintain structural soundness. $250

Keep it contaminant-free
Track-off mats. Place a mat on the inside and outside of every door that leads to the outside. $10–$15

Nontoxic cleaning supplies (includes a mop and two buckets—one for soapy water and one for fresh water—and nontoxic cleaning products). Clean up dust to eliminate contaminants such as lead dust, allergens, and chemical residues. Pay particular attention to cleaning refrigerator drip pans and range hoods. $20

Install/replace exhaust fans (including installation). Install fans in bathrooms and over the range to reduce moisture and contaminants in bathrooms and kitchen. Make sure these appliances are vented to the outside. $225

Wire shelving. Install wire shelves to prevent the collection of dust and avoid off-gassing from particle board. $60

Radon test kit. Test for radon gas in the lowest level of your home to prevent lung cancer from radon exposure. To learn more about radon and how to receive a discounted radon home test kit, contact your state radon office at or call (800) SOS-Radon. $10

Radon mitigation. Hire a professional to install a radon mitigation system to prevent radon gas exposure. $500–$1,200

Lead-based paint inspection/risk assessment. Hire a professional to test your home for lead. Call (800) 424-LEAD to find a professional in your area. $400

Keep it pest-free
Pest exclusion. Keep out pests by lining cracks and crevices with copper mesh, expanding foam, cement, and caulk. Avoid using pesticides, which can be harmful to your health. $10–$50

Integrated pest management (price of a visit by an IPM professional). IPM is a safer and usually less costly option for effective pest management. An IPM program employs common sense strategies to reduce sources of food, water, and shelter for pests. $110

Trash can with sealable cover. Sealable trash cans prevent rodent and pest infestation. $15–$20

Night light. Install night lights in dark hallways and bathroom to help prevent falls. $2

Nonskid pads for carpet runner. Install nonskid pads under carpets to help prevent slips, trips, and falls. $25

Smoke detector. To prevent fire-related deaths, place a smoke detector on each level of the home, including the basement. $5–$30

Bath mat. Place a bath mat in each bathtub to prevent slips and falls. $5–$7

Set water heaters to 120°F. Set water heater thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to prevent scalds. Free

Anti-scald shower diverter. Install anti-scald devices in water faucets and showerheads. $100

Grab bar (including installation). Place grab bars in bathrooms to prevent slips and falls. $50

Upgrade electrical system. A professional electrician can upgrade older systems to prevent electrical shock and fires. $200–$700

Baby safety items
Protector for sharp furniture edges. To prevent cuts and bruises, install these on all sharp edges. $9 per table

Stair gate. Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent injury due to falls. $30

Childproof cabinet latch. Attach cabinet latches in drawers and cabinets to prevent access to poisons and sharp objects. $5/4 pack

Handrails. Place handrails on both sides of stairways with spindles no more than 3.5 inches apart. $100–$150

Rails for a child’s bed. Place rails on the side of a child’s bed to prevent falls. $30

Window guard. Install window guards in upper-story (nonfire escape) windows to help prevent falls.$30–$50

Outlet protectors. Plug plastic cover outlets into electrical outlets to prevent electrocution. $1.50/12 pack

Window blind cord safety device. Install these devices on all mini blinds to prevent children from strangulation in blind cord loops. $3–$10

Keep it maintained
Repair cracks and holes in foundation. Seal up cracks and holes where pests and moisture can enter your home. $5/sq. ft.

Fix peeling paint. Fix peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978. Hire a contractor trained in lead safety for renovations and major repairs to homes built before 1978. To find a trained professional, call (800) 424-LEAD. $500–$1,500

Replace furnace filters. For maximum filtration, replace filters every four months with a MERV-11 filter. $35/4 pack

Source: National Center for Healthy Housing

Debra Gibson Isaacs from May 2016 Issue

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