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While it’s fun to think about cosmetic changes, like how to update your kitchen or restore your crown molding, your top priority should be health and safety.

Detecting the Invisible

  • Studies have revealed that Chicago has high levels of radon in many areas of the city. Radon is naturally occurring underground and can easily be tested for by hanging an inexpensive detector in your basement. Because radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, be sure to test your home before air sealing and insulating, or you may create a much more serious air quality problem by trapping gases inside.​

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, you should install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or family room), near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.

Carbon Monoxide
  • This poisonous gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless and will not initially affect you, so it’s incredibly important to have a detector in your home. If you are installing only one detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake you if you’re asleep. Additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home provide extra protection.

Potential Carbon Monoxide Sources in the Home

A Safe Electrical System

U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 50,000 reported home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction.

Knob & Tube Wiring


  • Most bungalows were originally built with Knob and Tube (K&T) Wiring with the expectation of running little more than light bulbs. Consider rewiring to reduce the risk of a fire hazard caused by modern appliances, and if the rubberized cloth or ceramic tubes have been compromised. The existence of K&T wiring may affect your ability to insure your home, so consider this issue when purchasing or selling a home with this type of wiring.


Safe Electrical System Checklist

  1. Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.

  2. Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

  3. In homes with small children, ensure your home has tamper resistant (TR) receptacles.

  4. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician so you do not have to use extension cords.

  5. Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.

  6. Ensure your home has Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI's) in the kitchen, bathroom(s), laundry, basement, and outdoor areas.

  7. Install Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI's) to protect electrical outlets.

  8. Call a qualified electrician during occurrences of blowing fuses, tripping circuits, flickering or dimming lights, or if outlets or switches feel warm.

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