From Margaret on January 16th, 2012 in Remodeling News
Whether you’re remodeling by yourself or working with a contractor to gut your home, you should know what you’re dealing with. While a kitchen remodel or window replacement might do wonders for your home, you need to go into those projects with some awareness of what they entail.
If you’re going into the walls of your home, you face some potential health hazards. These hazards can include lead in old paint, as well as asbestos in old insulation, both of which lay dormant until disturbed. Older homes with moisture problems can have a hidden mold infestation, with kinds of mold being very dangerous to interact with and inhale.
Especially when working with an older home, it’s vital that you know how to keep yourself safe from these 5 unexpected remodeling hazards. For best results, we recommend using a contractor for at least part of your remodel.
To get remodeling pricing and contractor information, click here.
And always remember that old adage: safety first.
1. Lead in Old Paint
Lead paint is seemingly harmless, until chipped away or disturbed when knocking into walls or scraping away that paint. Lead paint is especially hazardous to young children. If you’re working with a house built around 1978, you can assume that there is lead paint present in some layer in your home.
How to know? You can test for it. And if you are dealing with lead, make sure that you deal with it safely. Check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for tips on safe work practices.
Asbestos can be present in the pipes, ducts and furnace insulation, flooring, cement siding, and even spackling compound of older homes. In other words, it could be anywhere. Special requirements may be involved where asbestos is present.
Once again, you can test for its presence. And you can hire a contractor that is specially licensed to deal with the material and acquire the necessary permits. You should never deal with it alone.
3. Mold and Mildew
While this may seem benign compared to lead and asbestos, mold and mildew can be serious environmental contaminates that pose great dangers when disturbed. Where the mold has previously grown in closed conditions, opening it up to the outside air can release some serious toxins.
Young and elderly people, as well as those with asthma, can develop serious reactions to such contaminates. A little mold might be expected, but if it’s black mold or it encompasses more than 10 square feet, a professional should be sought. You may have heard that bleach kills mold, which it does, but it doesn’t get rid of spores. Call a professional.
4. Dust Build-up
Huge mounds of old dust will likely be present in areas behind your walls that have tall narrow spaces, collecting years’ worth of debris. In large quantities, this can be hazardous.
While this is one hazard that may not require professional intervention, make sure that you or any crew around such dust uses masks and goggles to help ward off any respiratory problems that this environmental hazard can cause.
5. High VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Older homes may have chosen carpeting and other products that emit a high level of VOCs, aka fumes and contaminates. This includes carpeting, paints, adhesives, coatings, and other surfaces. Pull these up cautiously and with plenty of ventilation, and replace them with low-VOC materials.
If you’ve chosen a material that seems particularly pungent, allow enough time to let it air out before installing it into your home.