Buying a home means scanning everything there is, inside and out. Apparently, paint is one of the least checked out part of any property. Perhaps, one can say something about how outdated the color theme is or why the previous homeowner chose such a color. Unfortunately, if you are looking at older homes, you might need to stop thinking about the color but what is contained in the paint. The existence of lead paint can make that dream house of yours go from hero to zero real quick. That is why a home inspection is both crucial and essential in a real estate transaction.
Before scientists discovered how dangerous lead can be, lead was a popular ingredient in house paint. If eaten or inhaled as dust particles in the air, this element can cause a wide range of health problems. Anemia, seizures, and worse, death, especially to children and highly sensitive individuals. Last thing you would want inside your home is this sneaky health perpetrator.
Let’s identify which homes have lead paint
In 1978, the federal government banned the sale of lead-based paint. Many people thought that houses built after the ban. However, many painters loved lead-based paint. This type of paint produces a glossier, more lustrous glow, and holds color better which appealed to both painters and homeowners. As soon as they learned about the banning, many of these painters stocked up on the harmful lead-based paint. This answers why home inspectors found the presence of lead-based paint in homes built in the 90s.
How to check out for signs of lead paint
You can’t really detect the presence of lead paint just by looking at it. Fortunately, a telltale sign will help you do so. Ever notice a scaly and cracked paint that looks like alligator skin? That’s one sign. It’s called alligatoring wherein the paint deteriorates, creating a scaly pattern. Finding these cracks is a good indication of lead. However, homeowners don’t leave these patterns on walls. Try to check out baseboards, window sashes, and basically anywhere a painter might have overlooked.
Lead paint testing
You can use a paint testing kit available at any local hardware store. Test your walls for surface lead by rubbing a solution on the wall. If the solution turns pink, that’s lead. However, the color pink will also stain the wall so it might not be a really good idea if you are just looking around.
The test has limits as well. It only finds lead on the surface, not when the lead-based paint has been covered up with new paint. Unfortunately, windows can still have exposed lead and lead dust disperses throughout the house when you touch the area.
Hire a home inspector to test for lead instead
A serious test is what you need to confirm if a home has lead-based paint. If the existence of lead is suspected, the inspector will use an X-ray to look through the paint layers. Because X-rays can’t pass through lead, it should be pretty easy to detect.
If you are not sure about who to hire, EPA.gov provides a list of certified lead inspectors near you and other relevant information on their lead abatement page. A certified home inspector can also do the job.
Walking away from a house with lead might be a good idea. In the end, it will always be your final decision whether to continue with the purchase or not. You just need to do everything it takes to ensure the safety of you and your family’s health.
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