Professional lead inspections cost a lot of money. This is why a whole industry exists for those on a tight budget. The questions till remains — should you hire professional inspectors or opt for the cheaper option? This article will cover both, but a professional will get the job done right–guaranteed!
DIY Lead Testing
DIY lead testing requires a lead testing kit. These can be purchased for anywhere between $25 and $125, depending on brand and model. They generally detect lead levels as low as 1,000 to 2,000 ppm. They are optimal for a first-strike source for testing for lead.
The key phrase is ‘first-strike.’ A manual lead test should always be followed by a professional test if you encounter positive results. If on the other hand the tests output negative results, then you can relax. It’s still good to get a professional test done, but it’s not necessary.
If you find lead in your home but just can’t afford taking any additional steps, at least follow the below guidelines:
- Clean up and properly dispose of any and all paint chips in your home.
- Keep children’s play areas clean and spot-free.
- Keep children away from all painted surfaces.
- Regularly wipe away collected dust.
- Never wear your shoes inside the home, as it could bring in lead from the soil.
- Wait 15 to 30 seconds after turning on a faucet.
- Avoid using cold water to brush or teeth or cook.
- Drink only bottled water.
- Invest in a water filter.
- Avoid growing any plants.
Professional Lead Testing
Professional lead testing is much more in-depth than manual lead testing. There are two methods by which professionals test for lead:
They use x-ray fluorescence (XRF) devices to measure the quantity of lead on surfaces. The benefit of this is it doesn’t affect the paint. The problem old, lead-based paint is that it easily chips. With an XRF detector, you won’t have to worry about any residue.
They conduct laboratory tests from samples taken from home around home.
- Dust: They collect dust from windowsills, window wells and floors.
- Water: They collect two samples of water from your faucets.
- Soil: They collect soil from your backyard and front lawn.
After the test is complete, the team will prepare a detailed report that identifies whether or not the lead in your home is hazardous. If it is hazardous, you will then need to get it removed through a process known as abatement.
Unfortunately, abatement tends to be extraordinarily expensive, with prices coming out between $8 and $15 per squat foot. That means abatement of a 3000 square-foot home could cost between $24,000 and $45,000, if not more.
There is another option known as encapsulation. It’s like lightweight abatement. The beauty of it is that it costs only around $0.50 per square foot, meaning the price drops to $1,500 for a 3000 square-foot home. It involves ‘encapsulating’ lead-painted objects and/or walls with a special coating.
The problem with encapsulation is that it’s only a temporary solution. The coating will eventually wear away. Also, encapsulation doesn’t take into consideration lead that might be present elsewhere, such as in your home’s water, soil and dust. It’s not a bad idea though if you plan to eventually sell your home and move elsewhere.
Not everybody can afford professional lead testing and removal. You should at the very least invest in a cheap home kit. Steps like testing your home and cleaning up can make a difference, especially if kids are present. Always keep abatement in mind, but until it’s a financially feasible solution, at least do everything in your power to reduce any and all risks of lead poisoning.