Beware of Hidden Home Dangers

tap water For New York City families, looking for a new home is no easy task; it’s one of biggest decisions and financial commitments you’ll make. Families often overlook the less obvious, but very important potential risks when making decisions on where their family should live.

Whether your family is renting or looking to buy a home, make sure that you check the following details, which may affect the health and safety of your family members:

Lead paint: Know when the building was constructed.  If construction was prior to 1978, there is the potential of lead paint.  Neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side in Manhattan are densely populated with pre-war buildings.  A seller or landlord is required by law to disclose their knowledge of the presence of lead paint.   Areas like walls, windowsills, ceilings, and moldings all could potentially have lead based paint.  Know what lead paint looks like – it’s easy to spot – and hire a professional certified in lead paint removal.  To avoid the potential of lead paint altogether, opt for new construction.

Asbestos: The presence of asbestos is a potential health threat, especially in townhomes.  Pipes, drop ceiling tiles, and certain floor tiles are prone to asbestos.  The removal and remedy of asbestos is strictly regulated, and you should not attempt to clean or remove materials suspected to have asbestos.  A thorough home inspection is key when purchasing a townhouse.

Pipes: In older buildings and pre-war buildings, the pipes may still be made of lead or galvanized iron.  This is potentially very dangerous as you and your family will be drinking water coming through the pipes.   Free water test kits are available online to determine the presence of lead, however remedy options and cost vary.

Floors:  If the floors in the home are made of wood and/or laminate, you’ll want to know whom the manufacturer is.  Certain flooring and types of flooring may contain chemicals, which have recently been linked to health issues such as cancer.

Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide is the largest cause of accidental poisoning.  Most people are aware that every home must contain smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, but where these are placed is very important.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has just updated their recommendations.

Windows:   In NYC, a landlord or managing agent is required by law to provide and properly install window guards if children under the age of 10 occupy a home.   But do you know who else can request window guards?  Window guards should be in place before your family moves into a new home, and you should also install child safety locks and/or remove blinds or window fixtures that could be dangerous to children.

Mold:   A licensed inspector can easily conduct a mold test prior to you signing a contract or lease, if you suspect the presence of mold.  Mold remedy should be conducting by a license contractor, and is a necessary step to correct this health concern.  Did you know that every buyer for every property type has the right to a home inspection?  Timing is everything; avoid surprises post closing.

Electrical Wiring: Know where the breaker box is located, and check the fuses.  If they look old, they probably are, and the electric wiring might not be up to code.

Throughout our daily lives we take safety precautions and steps to avoid potential harmful substances and elements. With the above checklist and proper guiding, you can ensure your home is safe for you and family.  Knowledge is power, and a safe environment is easy to ensure when you know what to look for and what to ask.

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Katherine Salyi is a Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker for Prime Manhattan Residential, recognized by peers and clients to be one of the most skilled and savvy boutique real estate firms in the industry, and considered to be among the most informed, effective and largest producing buyer’s broker specialists in Manhattan. They are consummate advocates for their clients, keeping their objectives, needs and desires in focus. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Katherine directly at [email protected] or 646-422-9766.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

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