Do you suspect your home or building to contain lead paint and are planning to remove it yourself? Here are helpful things you need to know to safely remove lead paint and avoid further exposure.
Lead paint is among the common problems that homeowners face especially if the house is old (built before 1978). So if you are worried about lead-based paint on your walls or want to make sure that your family is safe before you remodel your home, we’ve got your back. We will show you the importance of hiring a certified lead removal company to legally and safely remove lead paint in your home here.
- Check your home for signs of lead paint to confirm if you actually have lead paint. Hire a certified lead paint inspector or risk assessor for reliable results.
- It is best to leave lead paint in good condition untouched. Contact your local building department or a licensed lead removal company to complete removal tasks.
- Never attempt to remove lead paint on your own as this is an unquestionably dangerous task. There are specific safety guidelines and rules you need to follow to safely remove and dispose of lead paint.
- Professional lead paint removal costs can range from $8 to $17 per square foot.
Lead Paint Identification: The First Step Is to Check if Your Home or Building Actually Contains Lead Paint
Below are a few signs that your home might contain lead paint:
- Your house was built before 1978
- You see damp, damaged, cracking, chalking, chipping, or peeling paint
- You found surfaces that contain multiple layers of paint
- Your child or children have been diagnosed with lead poisoning
NOTE: We recommend having your children including other people who may have been exposed in your house tested for lead to be safe.
You can also use lead paint testing kits to determine if your paint contains lead. But, take note that lead test kits are not 100% reliable. They can’t identify the presence of lead if the paint has been covered with multiple layers of new paint. This means that even if the test result is negative, old paint layers might still contain lead.
Moreover, accidentally disturbing the material while testing it yourself can release toxic dust and you might end up exposing your family. This is where hiring a certified lead paint inspector or risk assessor comes in to accurately identify sources of lead and assess lead risks in your home/building.
“Lead-based paint inspectors must be certified by EPA or the EPA authorized program in the jurisdiction(s) in which they provide lead-based paint inspection services.– EPA, Must lead-based paint inspectors be certified?”
What Should You Do if Lead Paint Has Been Found in Your Home?
According to EPA, lead paint that is in good condition is unlikely to pose a risk and you should leave it untouched. But if you want to ensure your and your family’s safety, it can be covered with new paint or enclosed by a trained professional to prevent exposure.
However, deteriorating lead paint creates a hazard and should be addressed immediately. Take note that disturbing lead paint through DIY removal will create a greater risk as this will release toxic dust that might travel throughout your home.
Contact your local building department instead of attempting to remove the paint on your own. Specific areas have strict laws on activities that may disturb lead-containing building materials such as demolition as well as disposal. Although EPA’s Lead RRP Rule doesn’t apply to homeowners who are doing DIY renovation, repair, or painting projects, it is not worth the risk.
NOTE: The RRP rule applies to individuals renting a home, operating child care centers, and selling houses.
Remove Lead-Based Paint in Your Home Safely by Hiring a Licensed Lead Abatement Contractor
NEVER ATTEMPT TO REMOVE LEAD PAINT ON YOUR OWN.
The best way to safely remove lead paint in your home is to hire a licensed lead abatement contractor who is trained and has the right tools to effectively complete the job. Even if you will only be removing small amounts of lead paint, removal is still not suitable for DIYers who don’t have the right experience to ensure the safe execution of the task. Lead paint abatement professionals undergo strict training and use specialized tools, such as a HEPA vacuum meant for lead, to remove and contain lead paint.
“Any renovation, repair, or painting (RRP) project in a pre-1978 home or building can easily create dangerous lead dust. EPA requires that RRP projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and preschools built before 1978 be performed by lead-safe certified contractors.”– EPA, Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program
In addition, many people use paint strippers to remove lead paint on their own. But, this can be expensive if you do it yourself. The safest alternative would be to remove lead-contaminated materials (e.g. doors and furniture) that you can from your home and take them to a professional paint stripper.
How Do Professionals Remove Lead Paint?
Professionals wear hazmat suits and other personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, and respirators before removal. They also use several methods to remove lead-based paints:
4 Lead-Based Paint Removal Options
Removal is not always an option if the paint is still in good condition. It can be enclosed or encapsulated which is cheaper compared to removal. Consult a licensed professional to determine the best option for your problem.
Encapsulation is the easiest and cheapest method that involves using an encapsulant that will serve as a barrier over the lead paint.
This involves covering the surface with a new one like a new drywall or covering your windowsills with aluminum or vinyl. However, the problem returns once you remove the new surface.
Removal is more expensive compared to encapsulation and enclosure. Professionals can do the following methods to remove lead paint:
- Using liquid paint removers to remove lead paint on small areas like doors and windowsills.
- Through wet hand sanding and/or using an electric sander with a HEPA filter
- Heat stripping through heat guns followed by wet hand scraping
NOTE: Using heat guns produces toxic vapors and lead dust and should only be done by experienced professionals. Also, some removal methods are illegal in some areas such as torching, sandblasting, and power washing.
This method is your best option if you want to remove all sources of lead paint in your home. It involves replacing contaminated surfaces and installing new walls, doors, windows, and others. Plus, it is easier to do compared to removal.
What You, As A Homeowner, Can Do Before Lead Removal Professionals Arrive in Your Home
You can’t remove lead paint yourself, but there are some precautionary measures you can safely do to minimize exposure and make the job easier for lead removal professionals.
Dos and Don’ts: Lead Paint Safety Tips
- Prevent your children from chewing lead-painted surfaces.
- Avoid direct contact with paint chips and other lead particles.
- Wear an overall, respirator with a HEPA filter, gloves, and safety glasses before removing furniture, room decor, curtains, carpets, rugs, and other movable items from the room.
- Wrap items you can’t move with plastic sheeting tightly and seal them with tape.
- Cover your floors with plastic sheets and secure them with duct tape.
- Turn off your HVAC system and close your windows.
Other Important Things to Know About Lead-Based Paint Removal
How Much Does Lead Paint Removal Cost?
Professional lead paint removal can range from $8 to $17 per square foot. Homeowners typically spend an average of $3,500+ but the typical range is from $1,500 to $5,700+. This can reach up to $11,000+. Encapsulation costs around $4 per square foot while enclosure costs about $10 per square foot.
Factors Affecting Lead-Based Paint Removal Costs
The cost of lead-based paint removal will depend on the following factors:
- Your home’s square footage
- Your location
- Removal method
- Type of surfaces the lead paint will be removed from
- Lead paint disposal costs
Why Should You Remove Lead Paint in Your Home?
“It’s not just lead paint chips that poison. Contamination can be caused by only a little bit of lead dust that is easily absorbed by anyone who inhales or ingests it. Once poisoned, it’s for life and can never be reversed.”– Lead Paint: Bad in Schools, Hospitals, Apartments or Anywhere Children May Be Present.
Approximately 64 million or three-quarters of the houses in the United States built prior to 1978 contain lead-based paint. Lead paint is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. In fact, according to EPA:
- Lead-based paint poisoning has affected a million kids with irreversible damage including learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and lower intelligence
- Studies have shown that renovation projects where the area as poorly contained can be the cause of new lead poisoning cases that are being reported each year
- Impacts on exposed adults include high blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, memory loss, and diminished motor skills
- What You Need to Know About EPA’s Drinking Water Lead and Copper Rule in Schools
- New Rule for Lead-Contaminated Dust Will Help Protect Children & Set New Industry Standard
Leave the paint if it is still in good condition because disturbing it can create a greater risk and you might end up exposing yourself to toxic lead dust. Always leave lead paint removal to trained and certified professionals if the paint is showing signs of wear and tear.
Encapsulation which is covering the lead paint with a new layer is cheaper than removing lead paint. However, this can only be done by a licensed professional if the lead paint is still in excellent condition. Removal might be needed if the paint is damaged.
Homes built before 1978 most likely have plaster walls that contain lead paint. The only way to know if your wall contains lead paint is through professional testing which will also help assess associated risks and determine the best course of action.
Sanding lead paint releases dangerous lead dust into the air which can cause lead poisoning when inhaled or ingested. Isolate the area and close your doors and windows then call a professional lead abatement company immediately to remove the remaining paint and clean the room.
Never attempt to do DIY lead paint removal to avoid releasing dangerous lead dust into the air. There are a few things you can safely do to prepare the area before professional lead paint removal personnel arrive in your home. Other than that, you should leave the actual removal process to licensed professionals.
RPF Environmental has been offering customized lead paint inspection and risk assessment services in the New England region for years. Book a consultation now and let us help you find the best solution for your lead paint problem!