If you’re buying a home that was constructed before 1978, consider some risks associated with lead. Lead can be found in paints, pipes, soils and dust. With this in mind, you may discover lead on windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, banisters, porches and fences. If you notice peeling paint in an older home, contact a professional to make sure it’s lead-free. Removing paint yourself may pose an even greater risk to you and your family. Keep in mind that children are most susceptible to lead poisoning. Be certain that they stay away from contaminated areas. For more information on the risks involved with lead, consult the National Lead Information Center (NLIC).
Research the history of your neighborhood. If you are moving into an industrial area or one that used to be industrialized, you may want to have an inspector check for groundwater contamination. When facilities illegally dump chemicals, they can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater.
What is radon and why should you test for it? Radon is a natural radioactive gas that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. It is also the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. All-home inspection professionals are required to test for radon in a home. According to the U.S. EPA, an acceptable indoor level of radon is 4 pCi/L. If your radon home inspection comes back too high, the following are common methods to help reduce radon levels: soil suction (a method that draws radon under the house and releases it away from the house) sealing foundation cracks, increased under-floor ventilation and installing a radon sumo pump.
In 1985, asbestos gained recognition as a harmful fibrous material found in insulation, floor tiles, roofs and siding. If you find asbestos in your home, your first inclination might be to eliminate the contaminant. But removing asbestos creates more of an issue because if disturbed, asbestos can become an airborne toxin that poses significant health risks to you and your family. Limit your exposure to asbestos by leaving insulation alone. If you’re remodeling, make sure you hire a professional to handle insulation removal.
Your home inspector will check for other risks such as defective wiring, leaks and drainage problems and loose porch and stair railings. These are small things that have the potential to create major problems.