Before renovating a home built prior to 1978, you need to get a lead paint inspection so that the work can be done safely.
Lead is a naturally-occurring element, but in high concentrations it can cause serious health problems, including nervous system ailments, kidney problems, and high blood pressure, as well as learning disabilities and behavior problems in children. In order to avoid inadvertently exposing yourself or your family to lead, it is vital to consider lead safety before beginning a renovation, especially in a home built before 1978.
Get Old Paint Tested
The first step is to get old paint tested to determine if it contains lead. In general, any layer of paint applied between 1940 and 1978 has a high likelihood of containing lead. Be sure to get interior and exterior paint tested. While exterior paint won’t contaminate your home, it will contaminate the adjacent soil which can be just as dangerous, especially for young children.
Hire an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Contractor
If lead-based paint is found in your home, the safest way to renovate is with the help of an EPA Lead-Safe Certified contractor such as AQHI Inc. Such a contractor will be intimately familiar with the best practices for lead safety during a renovation and able to follow them to the letter during the project to keep your home safe and uncontaminated. You can choose to have the contractor deal with the lead paint hazard in one of four ways:
- replace the paint and the material it’s attached to
- remove only the paint by scraping, sanding, or stripping
- enclose the painted surface behind drywall, paneling, or siding
- encapsulate the paint with a durable liquid sealant
What About DIY Projects?
If you have a small renovation project that you really want to handle on your own, you can do so as long as you take care to follow the EPA’s guidelines for lead safety during a renovation. Be sure to remove all furnishings, rugs, curtains, etc. from the area. If something can’t be removed, seal it off tightly with tape and plastic sheeting. The floor should also be covered with plastic sheeting and tape, as should any air registers, windows, and doors. When removing lead-based paint, dampen the surface first in order to avoid creating dust. You will need to wear a HEPA filtered respirator and coveralls while working and clean the entire area with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner as well as a mop once the work is finished.