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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

   There are do-it-yourself kits available. However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has not evaluated any of these kits. One home test kit uses sodium sulfide solution. This procedure requires you to place a drop of sodium sulfide solution on a paint chip. The paint chip slowly turns darker if lead is present. There are problems with this test, however. Other metals may cause false positive results, and resins in the paint may prevent the sulfide from causing the paint chip to change color. Thus, the presence of lead may not be correctly indicated. In addition the darkening may be detected only on very light-colored paint.

   Another in-home test uses X-ray fluorescence to determine if the paint contains lead. It is done only by professionals trained by the equipment manufacturer and who have passed a state or local government training course, since the equipment contains radioactive materials. We can refer you to a professional lead inspector to check your pre-1978 home for the presence of lead, and the cost for the inspection is typically between $250 and $350. The inspector will check each wall and trim surface in every room and around the exterior of the home and provide a detailed report of the findings.

   You also have the option of removing small sections of paint about 1-inch square, cut out all the way down to wall material surface, from several locations in the home and sending the chips to a lab for analysis of lead content. This method is considered the most reliable. But, because it is an intrusive test, which leaves a small gouge in the wall or trim surface, along with a section of paint missing, you will need written permission from the seller or the seller’s authorized representative, to take the samples. Also, lab testing of chip samples is limited to a few samples by the high cost, so it does not test every wall and trim surface like an X-ray fluorescence inspection.

   To better understand the health hazards of lead paint in an older home, along with what your can do minimize the exposure of your family to lead ingestion, we suggest reading the EPA guide “Protecting Your Family From Lead In Your Home.” Click on the icon below to download it.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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