One of our favorite sayings is “safety never takes a vacation.” This month we have spoken about safety in our homes on this blog, on the radio, and in our Ask The Builder column in the Columbian newspaper. To wrap up our safety awareness month we would like to end with some hidden enemies in the home that don’t get much attention. The stars of this show are carbon monoxide, asbestos, and radon.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion. A detection system is absolutely necessary. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of every home. It is important that a detector is on each sleeping floor and in areas where major gas burning appliances, such as the furnace or water heaters, are located. Carbon monoxide detectors should not be placed within five feet of gas fueled appliances, or near cooking or bathing areas. Common culprits for the creation of carbon monoxide are:

Fuel fired furnaces (non-electric)
Gas water heaters
Fireplaces and woodstoves
Gas stoves
Gas dryers
Charcoal grills
Lawnmowers, snow-blowers, and other yard equipment

carbon monoxide detector


Asbestos is a silent giant that we encounter during our remodel projects. Once known for it’s versatility, heat resistance, strength, and insulating properties, it was a coveted material. So much that at one time the United States Military mandated its use in every branch of service! However, today it is known to be highly toxic and linked to cancer. In fact, it is banned in more than 50 countries. Before any remodel project commences we have experts in the field test the home for asbestos and follow the procedures for safe abatement. Asbestos can lurk in places like:

Exterior surfaces (shingles, siding, window putty
Spray on ceiling treatment
Electrical equipment

radon reduction systems


Our last unseen enemy is radon. In our region it has been determined that some areas are at a high risk of radon exposure, particularly in Clark County. But why? Radon exposure in our area is linked back to the Missoula Flood thousands of years ago when rocks with uranium were carried with the flood waters. The toxic gas from the decaying uranium causes the higher level of radon. Radon exposure can be sporadic from one property to the next. Radon mitigation is taken care of in each home we build as a standard. There are also independent companies that offer radon testing for those that want a more in depth view of their particular property. As you can imagine, defining where the rocks were deposited with that flood water is nearly impossible so reports are linked to zip codes and regions by the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information, you can research at the EPA.

If you have questions for us or an idea for future discussion, please email us.

For more information about home safety, silent enemies, and home building please follow us on Facebook, listen to our radio program Saturday morning at 9:00am on Sunny KKOV 1550 and at 1pm on KPAM 860AM or in our radio archive and read “Ask The Builder” in Vancouver’s Columbian newspaper on Sunday in the Real Estate section or on our website.