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 Post subject: Healthy Homes
PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 7:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
My husband has environmental allergies to all things environmental. Basically anything environmental that you can be allergic to...he is.

I have been making the home "healthier" over the years and he recently said to me " my asthma has been really under control lately" he is off regular medication and only uses an inhaler prior and/or during sports. I said "nice to know my efforts are working" I don't think he was aware of all my ritual house cleaning chores that have made our house cleaner.

I change the furnace filter regularly, but I want to know what kinds of filters everyone else uses. I do not have a special "allergen friendly" kind. I'm wondering what everyone else uses? Is it cleaner to run your furnace fan a lot to filter and recirculate clean air, rather than just have the air circulate when the furnace cuts in?

Also, I REALLY want to rid our home of carpeting. I have been using allergen reducers on the carpet, but the carpet still makes me want to puke. We were planning on recarpeting our upstairs bedroom areas and tiling our kitchen since we bought our home 3 years ago. I can not make a decision, I want to tile the kitchen and the bedrooms and use large foam puzzle mats for area rugs in the kids rooms (they are soft, but can be moped ). We have hardwood on our main floor, so laminate next to the wood would look funny, otherwise I would go laminate because it is cheaper than tile. Our basement carpet is fairly new...and long term I would like to go laminate downstairs with the same puzzle mat "area rugs" as the kids rooms. I do not know what to do for stairs. Carpet is safer for little ones incase they fall, but I'm trying not to replace carpet with carpet. Does anyone have some other flooring ideas, particularily for stairs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 12:08 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6501
Location: Ottawa
We ripped out the old gross carpet when we moved in here and were in the process of putting laminate in but have run out of time. It is very dusty and it is hard to do in the winter. You have to seal off an area for cutting it and space is of a premium.
What we did on the stairs is to sand the treads and stain and varnish them. They look great! We went with a dark walnut colour. The laminate is a redish colour and we coud never duplicate it so we decided to treat that area differnetly.
In the spring, we will paint the risers the same as the baseboards. We will be painting the entire house! :roll:
I don't know what kind of a fiter we have but we do chang it often and it does cut down on the dust.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:29 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Susan, are you putting laminate in the entire house, even bedrooms and basement? Have you seen the puzzle mat things I was talking about? My friend went laminate in her play room and used them. They are so awesome...they are soft to sit on to play, but can be washed and do not collect dust...

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... nce&s=toys

Thats what I want to do in the girls' rooms.

:oops: I don't know what you mean by
Quote:
sand the treads
.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 10:43 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 12:17 pm
Posts: 256
Location: Niagara region, Ontario
Saskmommy,
I used to use the cheaper filters that were only a couple of dollars each. Then I read an article in Readers' Digest that told about how to get the best filters. You should look for the MERV on the filter package. The higher the number, the better the filter. They are much more expensive though. Currently I am using the 3M brand called Filtrete Micro Allergen filter and the MERV is 11. I think they even make one higher than this. I can't believe how much more dust etc. this filter catches compared to the old ones. Even though we don't have environmental allergies in our house, there is another benefit: I find I don't have to dust as much. YAY!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:31 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Thanks soccermom, I had bought 3M ones, but they were not those ones, they were dust reduction ones. I don't have the package anymore and can't find a MERV on the fiIter itself, but I suspect it is lower. I did not know abut the MERV thing, so I'll compare the dust reducer one and the micro allergen one when I go for groceries this afternoon. I changed my filter yesterday...and even though it had not been that long, my filter was GROSS...it was the first time I had used a dust reduction one ( or one other than a basic cheap one ), hopefully the micro allergen one will remove even more crap, and help keep dust off of everything.

I'm thinking that it is easier to trap the dust in a filter, than to have to dust and wash everything in the entire house once it is there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 8:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6501
Location: Ottawa
Saskmmmyof2, We are putting the laminate on the main floor and the second floor with the exception of the kitchen, foyer and bathroom. With don't want water damage and with a 4 year old splashing in the tub, spliling drinks and commin in with snowy boots, we'd get some in these rooms.
Yes, we are putting it in the bedrooms. Dd has a bathmat ( the only mat I found which went with her room) that I can launder.
I have those puzze mats. We used them at our od apt for parking the stroller as I didn't have to worry about the wet wheels.
To date we have 15 x 1' square plain, 26x 1' square alphabet and 10 assorted sizes hopscotch. I used them in the livingroom when it was still mostly subfloors. Right now there packed away. I found the dust settled under the alphabet squares as she constanly puled them up.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 11:18 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I didn't know about MERV either.

Depending on whether your child is sensitive to chemicals, I think that a natural floor covering is better than laminate. Anything made from petroleum products gives off chemicals for awhile. I'm sensitive to paints, etc. At Allergy Expo last spring I was having a terrible time with my allergies (ironic, eh?). I talked to someone who was also having problems--she said that it was the off-gassing from the new carpet. There was that awful 'new carpet' smell about the place so that's what I thought it was.

I'm not up on interior decorating----but hardwood, bamboo (which grows very quickly so is an environmentally-friendly choice), slate <=(? don't know whether that is an option or not--might be misremembering an article i read), cork (?) would be good. There are allergy-friendly paints out on the market so I would assume there would also be allergy-friendly varnishes (with low VOC emissions).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 5:41 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
I checked out furnace filters and the ones that I have (that I love, and can't believe how much they collect over the cheap ones), are MERV 7. I found 11's at my store as well and can't wait until next time when I plan on using them.

I checked out flooring options, and the tile on the stairs would be way too dangerous for a 3 and 5 year old. Tile was also too hard for in their rooms, incase they fell out of bed. I wish I could go laminate, but it would look stupid having half hardwood and half laminate. I don't want to replace carpet with carpet. So...for now the carpet is staying, unless anyone has any other good ideas. Yuck! I bought a bissel carpet deep cleaner and special "allergen remover" soap. I did my yougest daughters room and was quite stunned how much dirty water and crap came out of it. The deep cleaner also does furniture...so for the next few weekends I will be getting up early and cleaning the house one room at a time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2006 8:52 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 688
Location: Cobourg, ON
My husband picked up a book at our local library called, My House Is Killing Me! by Jeffrey C. May. It is a guide for families with allergies and asthma. It has a lot of suggestions for improving your home to make it healthier. The author is a home inspector. I haven't read much of it yet. One thing we watch at home is our humidity. We really don' t use our furnace humidifier anymore. We use the 3M allergen furnace filters also and clean mostly with natural products like vinegar and water. We use a central vacuum system but it is exhausted into our basement near our furnace so we need to move it to the garage. We also bought expensive mattress covers. I am slowly weeding the stuffed toys out of the house. I really hate these toys. My kids received probably about 100 over the past 5 years from well meaning relatives and they go unused for the most part and just collect dust. Every few months I donate a few that the kids don't use and they don't even notice. I am starting to put the ones that are left into the freezer every so often to kill any mites on them. When the kids have visitors over the rule is - no one plays on the beds - especially visitors with pets. I don't want cat or dog hair in her bed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 2:07 pm
Posts: 100
Location: Burlington
We used to use the 3M Micro Allergen one but then we got an electronic air cleaner on our furnace instead. They filter out more and are big metal washable filters that can be washed as often as you like.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:56 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:22 pm
Posts: 154
Location: Georgia
Saksmommyof2,

What a great job you are doing in keeping your home clean and free of allergens! Your husband is so lucky you are pro-active with his environmental allergies.

I had an allergic reaction to a yeast that grew in our carpet after I cleaned up after our new puppy. I cleaned the carpets in our Master Bath with our steam-cleaner and one of the "natural enzyme" pet urine removers. I had used this product previously for our cats; however, this time the carpet did not dry well and a yeast grew. (It smelled like beer brewing!) Withing 2 days, I was short of breath from walking upstairs. It got worse and worse, and I ended up in the hospital. Docs couldn't figure out what was wrong, but could tell I was sicker at home. They suggested I go to a hotel when I left the hospital since I felt like something in the house was making me ill.

Long story short: a yeast was growing from the enzyme cleaner and the damp carpet. I had an allergic reaction to this yeast. (Verified by plate testing at a mycology lab and my Allergist ran IgE and RAST panels.) My husband and daughter were not affected, thank goodness. We had to remove all carpet from the Master Bath, Bedroom and closet. We had remediation done to clean the area of the yeast (like a mold remediation.) They we had the Master Bath floor tiled and re-tiled the shower. We used pre-finished wood flooring in the Master Bedroom and Closet. I became very sensitive to chemical odors and did not want to deal with the dust from having wood floors sanded and finished. The flooring does have a few crevices, but they are very tight and in an area where we don't have to worry about spills (such as in a Family Room.)

Fortunately enough, before all of this, we had tiled the Kitchen and Family Room downstairs. [i]Carpeting is so yucky![/i] Yes, the tile may look dirty quickly, but that same dirt would have been hiding in the carpet. I just vacuum several times a week, and mop twice a week with a "towel mop." (This uses handtowels, so you keep several and just throw them in the wash when you're done. It also keeps the dust down!)

We still have carpet on the stairs, hall, and in our other bedrooms. I have a Kenmore vacuum recommended from Consumer Reports with a HEPA filter. I can notice a difference from my old vac., but I still use a dust mask when I clean. I read in Martha Stewart Living magazine that you should make 4 passes when you vacuum to remove the most dirt. We hope to put the same wood down in the other areas soon.

Good idea about the soft mats! I have been looking for something my daughter can sit on downstairs. And I am looking at a polypropylene rug for a floor covering in the Family Room. (These are sold in patio stores as "outdoor rugs" but seem to be very soft and can be literally "hosed off" outside.) I would put the playmat on this for extra softness, and take it up for company. I may even use one in our daughter's room if I like it.

>We have a "no shoes upstairs" rule. It really keeps the upstairs cleaner, especially because we have pets. (I am allergic to cats, so I moved them out of our bedrooms years ago.) All pets stay downstairs now.

As Lisa suggested, some new flooring products off-gas. I tested several flooring samples before deciding on the pre-finished one. I even read you should put the flooring, such as laminate or wood, in your garage or Living Room for a bit to off-gas as well as to acclimate to the humidity of your house. This will keep the wood from warping after it's installed.

>I also invested in a medical-grade air cleaner for our bedroom. It really cuts down on the dust and removes other odors.

>I have read that you should run the fan of your HVAC when you are vacuuming and cleaning. (The filters are only working when the unit is "on.")

Best wishes,
Daisy


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:51 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
Does anyone know if home improvements, (which are done to improve the home to be a healthier environment for children with medical conditions such as dust/environmental allergies), are tax deductable or can benefit ones income tax in any way?

Can you somehow claim anything, like expensive furnace filters or replacing carpeting as a medical expense? It kind of is a legitamit medical expense. My youngest daughter has not had environmental tests yet, but she gets extremely itchy outside, and seems itchy generally all the time. When she gets tested next...and if it shows a dust allergy...can I qualify for any tax breaks if I do home improvements to help her condition?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 2:38 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:09 am
Posts: 1054
saskmommyof2 wrote:
Does anyone know if home improvements, (which are done to improve the home to be a healthier environment for children with medical conditions such as dust/environmental allergies), are tax deductable or can benefit ones income tax in any way? Can you somehow claim anything, like expensive furnace filters or replacing carpeting as a medical expense?

saskmommy, I posted some info back in May 2005 on another topic further down on this thread about tax breaks for central air...
Quote:
I was reading a booklet that I picked up at the Allergy Expo called "Triggers - Asthmas Basics #2 - Manage Your Environment" [ the booklet was produced by Asthma Society of Canada - www.asthma.ca ] and it states that, " you can deduct the cost of certain household equipment such as air filters and cleaners as medical expenses on our personal income tax". It adds that a prescription from your doctor is needed and cautions that there are some restrictions -- contact the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281 for more info.

I think it's certainly worth the call to find out more info. Good Luck. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
I phoned that number to inquire. Some air filters and purifiers can be tax deductable if you have a doctors prescription to be using them. However replacing carpet with a hard mopable surface is not tax deductable. the lady on the phone said the "making a house friendlier to family with mobility issues is tax deductable, but that making air quality better for family members with environmental allergies is NOT tax deductable."

That sucks! Tiling or putting in hardwood to 2/3 of your house carries a heafty price tag. We are currently planning on putting it off, and using our new carpet deep cleaner regularily, but a tax break for renovations to help accomidate environmental allergies and asthma would have been nice.


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 Post subject: Creating a healthy home
PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:26 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:24 pm
Posts: 94
Location: Toronto area
Kudos to anyone who is working on creating a more healthy environment in their homes. A lot of indoor pollution comes from, not only materials we use in flooring, window coverings, etc but also from chemical cleaners used every week. If, like me, you have allergic/asthmatic kids, that means you need to keep the place clean - but...the more you use cleaners, the more you load the air with toxins that your family breathes in. You know that nice "clean" smell you get when your dishwasher is being used? That's cholrine - poisonous in gas state but of course, not enough of it to cause a problem from a little dishwasher, right? wrong! Think of all the cleaners you use. We switched to natural ones 7 years ago and our kids (and me too) have noticed a big reduction in problems. They cost a little extra but jnot having all the countless hours in hospital have been worth it.


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