Watch out for these 11 safety and health hazards at home.


By Thumbtack Staff and Contributors

Are you living in a healthy, hazard-free home? If you can’t answer that question with a confident “yes,” it’s time to inspect your home for potential issues.

If you're not sure where to start, read this guide. And afterwards, you may even want to consult with a home care professional (and maybe even your doctor). From chemicals in the air to potential fire hazards, we’ve outlined 11 potential threats and the safety tips every homeowner should know. 

1. Asbestos. 

asbestos in homeAsbestos is a mineral that may be found in various building materials. If the materials in your home have asbestos and you’re working on a demolition or home improvement project, those fibers may be released into the air. And when inhaled or ingested, the fibers can increase the risk of certain health issues — most notably lung disease.

When in doubt, you can hire a professional to inspect and test your home for asbestos before you start your home improvement project. But just so you know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that if your building materials “won’t be disturbed, you do not need to have your home tested for asbestos. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone.”

For more information on asbestos, visit the EPA website.

Related: How much does asbestos removal cost?

2. Asthma attack “triggers.”

asthma attack triggers in the homeAllergens and pests in your home may trigger asthma attacks. Some common triggers include dust mites, mold, pets and even cockroaches

Avoid and prevent allergies or asthma attacks by learning what causes them. Keep your home clean, and avoid the things you know can trigger your allergies or asthma. For example, the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) recommend washing your bedding every week and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter on your floors and carpet to get rid of dust mites.

For more information on asthma triggers and how to prevent them, visit the CDC website.

Related: Step-by-step house cleaning checklist.

3. Carbon monoxide and radon.

carbon monoxide detectorEvery year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning not linked to fires, according to the CDC. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuel is burned in cars, lanterns, fireplaces, stoves, grills and more.

One way to prevent CO poisoning is by installing a battery-operated CO detector in your home. A digital readout detector can even tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home.

Then there’s radon — a naturally occurring gas that has been named the second leading cause of lung cancer, reports the EPA. It can enter through cracks and holes in the foundation of your home. And because this colorless, odorless gas comes naturally from the earth, it’s impossible to detect on your own. 

Determine the amount of radon in your home by getting a professional to conduct a test. If the levels are high, talk to a pro about implementing a radon reduction system.

4. Electrical issues.

melted electrical outletNo matter what kind of electrical issue you face (damaged wires, poorly installed wiring, etc.), don’t take it lightly. 

Be on the constant lookout for circuit breaker issues and frayed or chewed wiring. Limit your use of extension cords, and be careful when using electrical outlets that are located close to water sources. 

If you think you need electrical or wiring repairs, don’t attempt any electrical work yourself — leave it to the pros. It also helps to have an electrician inspect your home so they can identify potential electrical hazards and recommend solutions.

Related: Electrical home maintenance and safety tips.

5. Cooking fire hazards.

kitchen fire aftermathCooking, heating, electrical issues, smoking and even candles are some of the most common causes of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). House fires can also be started by faulty wires, extension cords or items placed too close to a heater.

Protect your household from these home safety hazards by installing several smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers throughout your home. The NFPA recommends installing alarms on every level in your home, in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Test your smoke alarm once a month, and change the batteries regularly.

A few other tips to prevent fires in your home:

  • Stay vigilant. Don’t take a nap when cooking and stay close to the kitchen. Keep an eye on your appliances — especially grills, stoves, microwaves and ovens — when you’re cooking inside and outside.
  • Clear the stovetop area of flammable materials. This can include many things, such as oven mitts, kitchen towels, packaging from food and even your wooden utensils. 
  • Keep portable fire extinguishers nearby. These can help contain or put out small fires.
  • Create a home fire escape plan. Don’t have one? Check out this guide from the NFPA.

6. Excessive clutter.
hoarding excessive clutter in home

There are many benefits to having a clean, clutter-free home, but did you know it could potentially keep you safe and healthy?

It’s true. Too much clutter and debris could become a fire risk — especially if your items are located too close to the heating unit and pests underneath the clutter are chewing hidden wires and damaging them.

So, try to keep your home as tidy and neat as possible. If you think you have a hoarding condition, reach out to medical and community resources. 

7. Soot and creosote build-up. 

chimney soot and creosoteIf you have a chimney, it’s important to get it inspected and cleaned regularly. Otherwise, your chimney could start accumulating too much soot and creosote — which could lead to a chimney fire. 

To prevent this from happening, the EPA recommends getting your chimney, wood stove and vents inspected and cleaned every year. If you’re overdue, find chimney sweepers and inspectors near you to set up your next appointment. 

8. Leaks and plumbing issues.

leak in roofIf you notice discolored pipes, foul odors, slow draining, spiking water bills or bubbling wall paint, you could have leaks or other plumbing issues in your home. An undetected leak could cause water damage within your home, as well as mold growth. Not to mention, the puddles from a leak are also slipping hazards. 

Have your plumbing and pipes inspected and repaired by a professional plumber. Insulate your pipes during the winter, and always keep your eyes (and nose) open so you can detect the signs of a possible leak in your home.

Related: Plumbing maintenance tips to remember.

9. Mold.

mold in wallMold grows where there’s a lot of moisture. So if there’s a leak in or near your roof, window or pipes, you may start to see mold growth. Mold can also grow on paper products, insulation, drywall, tile, carpets and more. 

While some people may remain unaffected by mold, it can trigger symptoms in others. For example, some of the known health issues caused by mold include stuffy noses, wheezing and itchy eyes.

You need to control the dampness and humidity levels in your home if you want to prevent mold growth. Do this by fixing leaks quickly, and thoroughly cleaning and drying your flooring, walls and other areas that endured indoor flooding. And make sure your shower, laundry and cooking areas are well-ventilated. You may even want to buy a dehumidifier if your home has a humidity problem. 

If you suspect you have a mold problem, you can hire a professional to inspect and remove it. And visit the CDC website for more information on mold.

Related: How much does mold removal and remediation cost?

10. Pests and rodents.

cockroach in homeThe presence of pests and rodents in your home can be pretty overwhelming. From termites and cockroaches to mice and bats, these household pests can damage your home — and sometimes your health. For example, rats and mice can spread diseases through their feces, urine, saliva and bites, and cockroaches can trigger asthma, warns the CDC

Pest-proof your home by attaching screen doors, keeping your food in well-sealed containers and changing your bedding regularly. Check for holes or gaps around your home’s exterior. If there are animal and bird droppings inside or outside your home, use gloves when you clean them up. 

If you’re still dealing with a pest infestation after your tried-and-true DIY methods, hire an exterminator. Your problem may be more severe and requires a pro’s skills and experience.

RelatedHow much does an exterminator cost?

11. Tripping hazards.

lighting outdoor stairsWhile tripping may seem trivial, it can cause broken bones and other serious injuries. Fortunately, there are easy things you can do around your home to eliminate potential tripping hazards:

  • Lighting: Make sure every room in your home has good lighting, especially if you have family members who might have vision problems or if there are steps inside or outside your home. Chat with a lighting professional to discuss which options may work best for your home.
  • Clutter: Clear the floor of clutter, such as electric cords and throw rugs. If you need a hand with this task, don’t hesitate to contact a decluttering professional (yep, they exist). 
  • Stairs: If you have small children, install safety gates at the top and bottom of your staircase. 
  • Wet floors: Place rubber mats or towels on your bathroom floor, especially if you have tile floors. 
  • Bathtub and shower: If you live with the elderly, install hoists or seats that make showering safer. You can also install grab bars that are just outside the bathtub or next to the toilet.

Lastly, regularly inspect your home for damage that could cause tripping. For example, if you have uneven floors inside your home (or uneven concrete outside your home), talk to a professional about your options for repairing those surfaces.

Find Thumbtack pros who can help you create a safe home. 

This list of home safety tips may seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve realized you need to conduct an inspection or perform some repairs ASAP.

But don’t let the stress stop you from creating a safer, healthier home. From maintaining your home to improving and repairing it, Thumbtack pros can help ensure your home is as safe as it can be.

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