Many people love the idea of buying an older home and fixing it up. You get the charm and unique features that you can't find on newer builds but with a new interior that meets the needs of a modern family. However, renovating an older house can mean meeting some potential hazards. it can also mean updating some materials in the home that now pose a risk to the health of your family. Here are some things to keep in mind for your safety as you approach your renovation.
Asbestos, unfortunately, is a common building material found in older homes. They are now known to cause deadly lung conditions, especially cancer, and are very dangerous, so they are banned from use in construction. Before the risks of this material were known, however, asbestos was renowned for its fireproof and insulative properties.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral, and it was added to all sorts of materials. In residential homes, you might find asbestos:
- Around chimneys as a fire block
- In insulation materials
- In tiles and flooring
- In siding and exterior linings
- In ceiling tiles
As you demolish interior and exterior components of your old home, you risk releasing the small, dangerous asbestos fibers into the air. Cutting into asbestos can also create airborne particles. Before you demolish anything, contact a residential asbestos testing company such as The Healthy Abode to check for common sources of asbestos. These companies can also remediate asbestos in compliance with current health laws.
As you take things apart in your home, be cautious. If you find materials that seem fibrous in nature or have old insulation, do not touch them until you know it is safe.
Lead is another common hazard in older residential homes, and it needs to be handled correctly and considered as part of the upgrades during renovations. Lead is most common in plumbing and paint, but it can also be present in the old bathroom or kitchen tiles as well.
A simple lead test will help you know if lead is present, but keep in mind that if your house was built before 1978, lead was common in paint and, therefore, your house is more likely to have lead as a matter of routine.
Before you begin demolition, take time to reduce the risk of lead exposure. Cutting into a painted lead surface can make lead exposure more likely. The dust from chipping paint can settle and contaminate the surrounding soil of the home, which can increase the risk of toxic exposure to children.
Lead paint needs to be sealed or removed by a professional.
Similarly, lead plumbing pipes can leach lead into your drinking water. It is not safe for you to have any lead plumbing in your home. Plan to replace all lead pipes in the house as part of your renovation.
The final primary safety concern is the wiring of the home. Older homes might use older wiring systems, including knob and tube wires or cloth-wrapped wire. These wiring systems were perfectly suitable for their time period, but the modern demands of electricity make these systems insufficient and even dangerous.
One of the main dangers of old wiring is that people might have tried "upgrading" the system to accommodate increased demand over the years, but they did not so so properly. Overloaded electrical boxes, lack of ground wires, and no GFCI outlets and insufficient breaker fail-safes can result in electrical fires or put family members at risk for electrocution.
Rewiring the house may seem like a big expense, but it's the best for your safety.
For more information on asbestos solutions, contact an inspection and abatement company near you.