Orange County Healthy Homes Program identifies hidden dangers

Leaks, clutter, humidity levels among the items to fix this weekend

Author: Allison McGinley, Special Projects Producer, amcginley@clickorlando.com
Gaard Swanson, Anchor, gswanson@wkmg.com
Published On: Apr 13 2012 11:42:48 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 13 2012 11:59:20 PM EDT
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APOPKA, Fla -

Ready to become a weekend warrior on Saturday fixing things around the house and yard?

Before you tackle trimming trees or pulling weeds, Local 6 teamed up with the Orange County Health Department to uncover the top six hidden home dangers that need to be taken care of this spring. Because once the summer hits, Florida's heat and humidity will take a toll on a home and maybe even a family's health.

"You never think of your home as unsafe or unhealthy, but sometimes they are. The little things we do or don't do can be unhealthy or unsafe,” said Ruth Acevedo, manager of the Healthy Homes Program for the Orange County Health Department.

Local 6 walked the perimeter of an Apopka home with Acevedo who said the No. 1 on anyone’s to-do list this weekend should be to inspect the caulking around each window.

Cracks or holes are an invitation to pests and insects, and those cracks allow water to seep in.

"That could cause mold inside the structure," said Acevedo.
Number two on the list: check your gutters. Make sure the gutters are clean and are directing water away from the house.
Something else to keep away: clutter. So number three on a weekend to-do list is to clear all clutter from the sides of your home.
"Clutter is always a home for pests, critters, roaches, rats," said Acevedo.

Besides just being creepy, those bugs and animals can carry disease.

Now onto the garage and number four on the list: change your air conditioner’s air filter.

Make sure it's the pleated and not the flat kind. And don't skimp.

Acevedo said, “If you've got a good filter, you're filtering all of the dirt out of your home so you're keeping it clean, you'll keep it well ventilated, and you're keeping it dry because the air conditioning takes the humidity out of your house.

The humidity level in the home should be between 30 and 60 percent and the lower the better.

That makes number five on the list to purchase a thermometer or other device that measures humidity inside your home.

If you see the percentage is too high, Acevedo suggests turning down the air.
She says between 68 and 75 is optimal for keeping a cool, dry home.
"If you set it at 80, the AC isn't going to kick frequently. You would save on electricity, but then you might have a mold problem," she explained.
Mold can lead to asthma, allergies, and other serious illnesses.
So make number six on the weekend to do list to look for water intrusion and damage.
"You need to be looking up, your roof, your ceiling, are you seeing any water stains on the ceiling, do you notice buckling? You want to correct those leaks as soon as possible even the smallest leak you want to make sure you correct it while it's small because believe me it's going to get worse," said Acevedo.
There are plenty more ways to keep your home safe and healthy this spring.
Click here for a check list created by Orange County's healthy home program.