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Many homes, especially older ones, contain invisible threats you should be aware of.

Is your house making you sick?

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When you think of the word “home,” chances are you are picturing a comfortable, healthy place filled with family and memories. While you strive to infuse your house with love and joy, your residence could also be filled with hidden hazards that have the potential to make you and your loved ones sick. Many homes, especially older ones, contain invisible threats you should be aware of. Here are a few places these dangers could be residing and tips on how to eliminate them.

Cooling and heating systems 
According to the Huffington Post, HVAC systems are often major sources of indoor pollution. While central air conditioning can turn your home into an oasis during the summer months, it can become extremely problematic once it is turned off. Leftover water can remain in your home’s air ducts and transform them into breeding grounds for bacteria and mold. These growths can have serious physical consequences for you and your family, including severe allergies, unexplained headaches and coughing. Mold and bacteria can also cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms.

To reduce the chances of getting sick from your residence’s HVAC systems, have your air ducts cleaned out by professional services every couple of years, suggests the source. If the damage is deep set, however, this may not be enough to truly eliminate the pollution. Consider using room fans or space heaters as often as possible so you do not have to rely on heating and cooling from contaminated air ducts.

Hidden health risks in your home could be causing those pesky allergy symptoms. Hidden health risks in your home could be causing those pesky allergy symptoms.

Caulk and cracked tiles 
Because bathrooms are subject to constant moisture, they are often the source of illness-causing household pollution. This Old House notes that your bathroom needs to be secured with high-quality tiles and caulk in order to prevent water from being absorbed into the walls, and therefore affecting the rest of your house. The source recommends examining your shower. If the caulk is shrunken, puckered or damaged, chances are it is not effectively keeping water out. If you or your family members are experiencing mild to severe allergic reactions, including rashes, congestion and coughing, this lack of bathroom insulation could be the cause.

Water damage from caulk and cracked tiles needs to be addressed immediately, or it can quickly spread throughout the walls of your home, causing mold issues that may be very expensive to fix. Even if your family does not have any physical symptoms now, you should tend to bathroom damage right when you notice it to prevent them from getting sick in the future.

“Dust mites could be hiding in your favorite furniture.”

Furniture and bedding 
Unfortunately, that soft old armchair or broken-in mattress might be the cause behind your incessant stuffy nose. The Huffington Post explains that dust mites, or tiny little bugs that feed off body heat, are just as attracted to your furniture as you are. The humidity your body provides keep them alive, so your go-to comfy spots become their favorite hideouts as well. The source notes that every home has mites, as they exist where humans live. Many people are severely allergic to these bugs, however, and might not realize these invisible creatures are to blame for their constant sneezing and itchy eyes.

The source notes that being vigilant about your cleaning schedule can eliminate the allergy symptoms that accompany dust mites for many people. Towels, sheets and blankets should be washed in hot water at least once a week, and dried well to prevent mold from forming. Vacuum your bare floor, as well as rugs and carpets. If you or your family members continue to feel allergy symptoms, consider investing in dust mite-proof pillowcase and mattress covers.