Here are some tips to keep your home healthy:
• Check your furnace.
Be sure to change your furnace filter every three months and make sure the filter fits properly, said Mike Selig, program manager for Clark County’s weatherization and building safety program.
“MERV 8 (filter) is a great sweet spot to improve the air quality of your house,” he said.
It’s also important to examine the duct work of the furnace, checking for visible gaps or cracks. Gaps and cracks should be sealed — just don’t use duct tape, Selig said.
“Duct tape is the worst thing to put on ducts,” he said. “It’s guaranteed to fail.”
If you don’t feel comfortable inspecting or sealing the ducts yourself, hire a home evaluation company that can inspect the home and give you a tiered list of needed improvements, Selig said.
• Take steps to prevent mold.
Many people don’t properly ventilate their bathrooms after using the shower, which can invite mold growth, Selig said. Allow the bathroom fan to run for 10 to 15 minutes after a shower to ensure all of the moisture is removed, he said.
On the outside of the home, residents should check for susceptible points where water can leak into the wall cavities. Before the rainy weather arrives, walk around the outside of the home and make sure the siding meets the edges of the doors and windows, Selig said.
In addition, clean gutters and make sure downspouts are directing water away from crawl spaces. Mold can form in the crawl space if water is present.
• Seal cracks beneath sinks and bathtubs.
Head into your home’s crawl space to check the areas beneath sinks and bathtubs. Pull away the insulation surrounding sink and bathtub plumbing to check for holes cut during installation.
Holes that are much bigger than the plumbing allow cold air — and whatever particles are in the crawl space air — into the house, Selig said.
“Insulation is great, but it’s a filter when you have air flow,” Selig said.
Use spray foam to fill the gaps around plumbing. For larger gaps, shove block foam in the holes and seal the cracks with the spray foam, he said.
• Check door seals.
Make sure doors are properly sealed. Gaps around doors can not only allow cool air from outside to seep indoors, but they can also allow fumes from chemicals in your garage, such as paint or gasoline, to get into your home.
• Buy carbon monoxide detectors.
Be sure to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially if you have open-combustion appliances, such as fireplaces or certain water heaters and clothes dryers, Selig said.
“Carbon monoxide detectors are essential to people these days, even if they just have a fireplace,” he said.
• Use a doormat.
Carpet can cause problems for residents because it can trap particles, such as heavy metals and pesticides, that are brought into the home from outside, Selig said.
To minimize the impact, use a walk-off mat of at least 6 feet at all doorways. An Astroturf-style mat will scrape particles off of shoes before they can be tracked into the home, he said.
• Check your roof.
Visually inspect your roof each year to ensure shingles are in good condition and vents are unobstructed. If you don’t feel comfortable climbing up there yourself, use binoculars to check for problems, Selig said.
• Prevent pests.
Make sure screens over crawl spaces are intact to keep pests out and don’t feed your pets outside, which can attract pests to your house, Selig said.
“Pests can bring all sorts of gross stuff,” he said.