Paint is probably one of the least concerns for buyers looking for a new home. Unfortunately, if you are looking for an old home, this should be an important consideration due to the presence of lead paints. Until 1978, lead was a popular ingredient in paints used in homes and commercial buildings. Manufacturers preferred the inclusion of lead as it reduced drying time, was moisture resistant, and maintained a fresh look longer.
However, lead is a toxic metal that exposes homeowners to potential health hazards. As a result, the Federal government banned the use and sale of lead paints in 1978. Congress also passed a law requiring homeowners to disclose to potential buyers if they are selling a house with lead paints. Nonetheless, homes built before this period still have lead paints.
Signs that the House You Want to Buy Has Lead Paint
For starters, if the prospective house was built before 1978, the chances are that it has lead paint unless it has undergone a recent renovation, repainting, or restoration. While it is a condition that previous homeowners should inform you of the presence of lead-based paints, some homes under agents may not provide this information entirely.
Therefore, it is prudent that you note some signs of lead paint before signing the purchase agreement. Unfortunately, like other elements that potentially cause disasters in your dream home, spotting lead paints is daunting. However, you can achieve this by looking at various telltale signs.
A good pointer is deteriorating paint that creates scale-like patterns. You should sense danger if you find several cracks along the walls, especially on the hidden parts. Note that most homeowners won’t leave their exposed walls, such as living room walls, with crumbling paints. Therefore, consider putting on your investigative hat to uncover such signs.
Inspect inside the closets, along with basements, baseboards, and other parts that painters can easily overlook.
How to Test for Lead Paint in a Home
While there is no law requiring buyers to test for lead paint in their prospective homes, testing is important, especially if you have children aged below six years. If you find traces of lead in the paint, have it removed by lead paint removal service experts. Just to mention, most sales contracts have a clause directing sellers to allow potential buyers up to 10 days to inspect the property for potential lead hazards.
During this period, you can conduct simple tests to determine the presence of lead paints. Obviously, you should have suspicions if the house was constructed before 1978. Secondly, as mentioned above, use your investigative powers to check the baseboards, window sills, and other areas beyond surface walls, even before conducting the confirmatory tests.
You can test for lead paint using a paint testing kit available at local hardware stores. For this, simply rub the solution on the wall and watch for the color changes. Confirm the presence of lead if the solution turns pink. Note that the solution will stain the wall, thus not a good idea if you are just inspecting the property.
A major drawback of this assessment method is that it only tests for the lead on the wall surface. Therefore, the test won’t be beneficial if lead paint was covered with non-lead paint during repainting. Even though repainting or encasing lead paints is a way to reduce potential danger, it isn’t a good option, as painters may miss some spots when encapsulating.
That said, you should consider hiring a home inspector to help with lead paint tests. If you suspect the property was repainted and the initial paint may contain lead, consult with inspectors, who use X-rays to check paint layers on the wall. X-rays can’t penetrate through lead, thus a conclusive test.
What to Do if the House Has Lead Paint
There are several options to deal with the presence of lead paint in your preferred house. Most homeowners opt for encapsulation. This is a legal method of minimizing the danger of lead paint, which involves applying a special coating over the paint. Note that regular paints cannot be used to encapsulate lead paint.
Encapsulation is effective on surfaces and walls that are in good condition. It won’t be effective on walls subjected to friction or badly damaged. Besides encapsulation, you can also consider interim control to fix lead paint hazards. This significantly varies from de-leading as it only prevents the worst lead-based paint issues.
Lead paint hazards solved by interim control include;
- Loose, chipped and peeling lead paint
- Chips on windows with lead paint shedding dust
- Window wells that aren’t smooth and easy to clean
- Dust with high lead levels
- Structural defects, such as plumbing and roof leaks that accelerate peeling of lead paints
Should You Buy a House with Lead Paint?
Without a doubt, there is no reason for ditching a good house because of lead paint. If you find an old home in good shape, the chances are that you won’t worry about lead, especially if encapsulation of interim control has been done. Nonetheless, consider doing repairs and renovations before settling in with your family.