By Christina Moore
Renovating or remodeling a home can be difficult and time-consuming. What’s more, when it comes to older houses, the risks associated with renovations can be significant. For example, older homes can contain a number of hazardous materials, some of which can pose serious health risks to your and your family. Thankfully, though, with the proper precautions, these risks are significantly reduced. Keep reading for more information on hazardous materials and how you can avoid them during renovations or remodeling.
If you’re remodeling a home built prior to 1975, asbestos exposure should be a primary concern. This substance is known for its strength, durability, fire-resistance and cost-effectiveness, and was once used abundantly in home construction and other industries. When left undisturbed and intact, asbestos is not harmful; however, if disturbed and inhaled, asbestos fibers can settle inside the body and lead to potentially life-threatening illnesses like mesothelioma. Indeed, asbestos in old homes is extremely common, and can often be found in the following materials:
- Insulation on pipes and boilers.
- Shingles and other roofing materials.
- Vinyl floor tiles.
- Some types of linoleum.
- Plaster and drywall.
- Some types of siding.
- HVAC duct insulation.
- Caulking and glazing on windows.
- Tile glue.
- Some types of paint.
If you think a remodeling job might involve asbestos exposure, leave it to professionals to repair or remove the affected areas. Avoiding asbestos should be a top priority, as exposure to this substance can lead to serious complications to health and wellness.
Like asbestos, lead can be found in abundance in older homes. Commonly used in household paints, lead is especially hazardous to young children, and can lead to severe damage to physical and cognitive development. In order to prevent the dangers associated with lead poisoning, an inspection should be performed prior to renovating, remodeling or moving into a home that was built before 1978. All inspections should be performed by a certified professional, who should be able to identify the presence of lead, as well as determine its type, location, severity, and the potential risks posed to you and your family.
When lead paint is in good condition and left undisturbed, it is generally considered safe. The following pointers can help keep your family safe from the dangers associated with lead-based paint:
- Do frequent checks for chipping and peeling, especially in areas that see lots of wear and tear, e.g., windows, door frames, hallways, and other high-traffic areas.
- Wipe down paint-covered surfaces at least once a week. Use a damp paper towel, then discard immediately after use.
- Control dust by mopping and dusting at least once a week.
- When having your home tested for lead, ask professionals about which areas need the most care and supervision.
Toxic mold can develop in areas that experience wetness or dampness, and is typically the result of construction missteps, ineffective repairs, leaking pipes or ceilings, and the activities of previous occupants. Mold feeds on household materials like paint, wood, wallpaper and textiles, and usually flourishes in dark, warm areas.
Mold can affect humans in a number of ways, including the development of skin, sinus and respiratory conditions, allergic reactions and, in severe cases, organ damage and other serious complications. And while everyone is susceptible to the dangers of mold, those most at risk are young children, the elderly and individuals with compromised immunity.
The removal and cleanup of toxic mold is a job for professionals. Attempting a DIY mold removal can result in a worsening of the problem, which means more risks to you and your family.
Although renovating or remodeling can be risky, there are ways you can protect yourself. With the information provided here, you’re better equipped to avoid hazardous materials so you can work in a safer, risk-free environment