A Healthy Home For The Holidays
Mike Holmes provides some tips for a healthy home for the holidays.
1. FLOOR-WARMING SYSTEM
It can really warm the sole. This electric system goes beneath tiled floors and makes them warm to the touch. It’s especially great in basements and bathrooms. You can even regulate the temperature of the floor to your liking.
My top choice is a system that combines floor-warming and uncoupling in a single layer; normally you need two separate systems. An uncoupling system for all tiled floors prevents cracks, so if your house shifts your tiles won’t. This can save a lot of money down the road.
Frequent temperature changes – going from cold to warm and warm to cold – can cause more expansion and contraction, leading to more cracks in your tiles and grout. That’s why an uncoupling system is important for floor warming.
But don’t kid yourself. These types of floor-warming systems are meant only to heat your floors, not the room (some in-floor radiant systems are designed to heat the whole room or house). Be sure you know what you’re buying and its capability.
2. A PROPER HOOD RANGE
Whether your stove is gas or electric, it needs an extraction fan over it to get rid of excess moisture and kitchen fumes when you cook.
It should extend over the surface of and be installed close enough to the stove to extract air – but not so close that you bump your head. Too many “designer” hoods are installed too high.
And make sure the hood extracts the air to the outside – not into the attic. Pulling moisture into the attic can lead to mould.
The fan needs to be the right size for your stove and house. If it’s too big or too strong it will waste heat, energy and money, and can lead to depressurization. When you extract too much air from your house the pressure inside becomes less than the pressure outside which can result in air being pulled back into the home (also known as back drafting).
This is dangerous because deadly combustion gases – for instance, from your fireplace, hot-water heater or furnace – can be drawn back into your home.
3. HEALTHY INDOOR AIR
Change your air-filter regularly – once a month during winter is ideal.
My top filter choice is one that can remove mould spores, bacteria and viruses.
Also, talk to an HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) specialist about installing an air cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to remove contaminants. Also, choose paint, caulk and adhesive with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) whenever possible, and hire a reputable duct-cleaning company to clean furnace ducts every year. They should use a camera scope to check the duct work.
If you’re in the middle of a reno talk to your contractor about VOC-absorbing drywall – yes, it does exist. It costs more, but if you have the budget, invest in your health.
4. SAFE CHIMNEYS
Every working chimney’s flue must be inspected and cleaned every year – no exception. If the flue is blocked or cracked toxic fumes like carbon monoxide can enter your home.
Even a hairline crack can open up as much as a centimetre once heated.
5. SAFE STAIRS
Absolutely no rugs at the top or bottom of stairs. This is a huge safety hazard. I don’t even like rugs that go down the centre. Why risk tripping or falling? Make sure stairs are sturdy, properly lit, well maintained and have a securely attached handrail.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.