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Can an Old House Make You Sick? Watch Out for These Problems

Our home should be our personal refuge, our shelter, a safe space. But sometimes, our homes can betray us. For instance, if you live in an older home, you may be wondering, can an old house make you sick?

Whether you’ve lived in your home awhile or simply a short period of time, you should be alerted to any changes in your health. For instance, if you suffer from asthma and you’ve noticed your condition has worsened recently or you suddenly are getting really bad migraines, your body may be trying to sound the alarm that something’s wrong.

The team at Entek has been helping residents of the Pacific Northwest improve their indoor air quality for decades. Here are some of the main culprits that could be impacting your health if you live in an older home and what you can do about it.


Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was once widely used in consumer products. For instance, it frequently appeared in construction materials, which is why it could be lurking in older homes. And we use the word lurking because asbestos can be extremely toxic when airborne, such as when materials containing asbestos are disturbed. So toxic, in fact, that it has been shown to cause cancer, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos over a long period of time, you face a heightened risk of becoming sick. So what do you do if you suspect the presence of asbestos in your home? For starters, you shouldn’t try to test for asbestos yourself. Instead, contact an asbestos inspector who can test for its presence and make appropriate recommendations.

If you already know asbestos is present in your home, monitor the area where it is present to ensure that the asbestos-containing material isn’t disturbed or damaged. If it is, avoid that area and seek help from a professional. If the material isn’t damaged but you plan on doing some home repairs or renovations, contact a trained and accredited asbestos professional to help.

Lead Paint

Like asbestos, lead paint is common in many older homes. Lead was frequently used in paint prior to the 1980s because of its ability to speed up the drying process, increase moisture resistance, and extend the life of the product. That is, until people began to learn about the dangers of lead paint. Now, homeowners who sell a home with lead paint have to provide buyers with a disclosure alerting them to its presence.

So why is lead paint so dangerous the government put a stop to the manufacturing of it? According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), lead paint can cause brain damage or damage to vital organs, such as the nerves and kidneys. Children are particularly susceptible to this toxic metal and can suffer from learning disabilities, behavioral problems, or seizures. If you’re living in an older home with lead paint, follow the guidance outlined by HUD to mitigate its dangers.


Mold is caused by excess moisture, and it can be found in many homes, both old and new. Each person reacts to mold differently. Some have no reaction at all, while others may experience serious health problems. If you notice leaks, water stains, or peeling paint and wallpaper, it may be a sign of a mold problem.

If you suspect you have mold growing in your home, you may need to contact a mold remediation specialist to remove it. In order to prevent mold from growing back, implement some preventative measures. Address any leaks in the home, caulk around your windows and water fixtures, and consider using a dehumidifier to draw out moisture.

Dirty HVAC System

A dirty HVAC system can also become a breeding ground for mold if there is moisture buildup in the system’s coils and ducts. A dirty HVAC that accumulates bacteria and mold can cause respiratory problems or exacerbate existing ones.

On the other hand, a properly maintained HVAC system can actually improve indoor air quality. We recommend scheduling regular maintenance appointments to ensure your HVAC system operates smoothly and runs at maximum efficiency.

During routine maintenance, an HVAC technician will clean your system’s ductwork so it is free of dirt, dust, and other debris. Your HVAC technician will also clean the system’s condenser and evaporator coils, check refrigerant levels and electrical connections, and adjust any loose system components. Ideally, you should schedule maintenance appointments twice a year before the peak heating and cooling months.

One simple thing you can do in-between maintenance appointments to make sure your HVAC isn’t circulating dirt throughout your home? Remember to change your air filters on a regular basis. How often you should change your air filters will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the filter and whether you smoke indoors or have pets in your home. Generally speaking, though, you should change your air filters somewhere between once every couple of months to once a year.

Can an Old House Make You Sick?

As you can see, if you’ve been wondering if an old house can make you sick, the answer is a resounding yes. The first step is to pinpoint what exactly is causing your family’s health issues and then take appropriate measures to address the problem. If you’re unsure of the exact cause, hiring a home inspector could help.If you find that you’re having HVAC issues or simply want to upgrade your HVAC system and you live in the Pacific Northwest, contact the team at Entek. We want to improve your indoor air quality and can make personalized recommendations to help you do just that. After all, we believe your home should be exactly what it was designed to be – a shelter and refuge to help protect you and your family.

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