Lead-based Paint

 

Lead-based Paint

If ingested, lead can lead to a variety of health problems, especially for children, including brain damage and other serious issues.

Lead-based paint may be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear and tear, such as windows and window sills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, banisters, porches and fences. Lead from paint chips that are visible and lead dust that is not always visible can both be serious hazards. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry-scraped, dry-sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together, such as when windows open and close. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it. 

In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set the legal limit of lead in most types of paint to a trace amount. As a result, homes built after 1978 should be nearly free of lead-based paint. In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the final phase of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, Title X, which mandates that real estate agents, sellers and landlords disclose the known presence of lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978. 

Lead-based paint that is in good condition and out of the reach of children is usually not a hazard. Peeling, chipping, chalking or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.

If the house is thought to contain lead-based paint, consider having a qualified professional check it for lead hazards. This is done by means of a paint inspection that will identify the lead content of every painted surface and a risk assessment that will determine whether there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). The risk assessment will also identify actions to take to address these hazards. 

The U.S. federal government has standards for inspectors and risk assessors. Some states may also have standards in place. Call your local housing authority for help with locating a qualified professional. Do-it-yourself home tests should not be the only method you use before embarking on a rehabilitation project or to ensure your family’s safety. For more information on lead-based paint, consult the HUD Office of Lead Hazard Control website at www.nachi.org/go/epalead

#lead-basedpaint #homesafety #healthhazard

Asbestos

Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral used in many construction products. It is considered to be a carcinogen. Asbestos has been used in: sealant, putty, and spackling compounds; vinyl floor tiles, backing for vinyl sheet flooring, and flooring adhesives; ceiling tiles; textured paint; exterior wall and ceiling insulation; roofing shingles; cement board for many uses, including siding; door gaskets for furnaces and wood-burning stoves; concrete piping; paper, millboard and cement board sheets used to protect walls and floors around wood-burning stoves; fabric connectors between pieces of metal ductwork; hot water and steam piping insulation, blanket covering and tape; and as insulation on boilers, oil-fired furnaces, and coal-fired furnaces. The use of asbestos was phased out in 1978, but many older houses contain asbestos-bearing products. 

Products containing asbestos are not always a health hazard. The potential health risk occurs when these products become worn or deteriorate in a way that releases asbestos fibers into the air. Of particular concern are those asbestos-containing products that are soft, that were sprayed or troweled on, or that have become crumbly.  In this condition, asbestos is considered to be in a friable state.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes that as long as the asbestos-bearing product is intact, is not likely to be disturbed, and is in an area where repairs or rehabilitation will not occur, it is best to leave the product in place. If it is deteriorated, it may be enclosed, coated or sealed up (encapsulated) in place, depending upon the degree of deterioration. Otherwise, it should be removed by a certified professional. 

A certified environmental professional could perform an inspection and make the decision whether to enclose, coat, encapsulate or remove deteriorated asbestos-containing products. Testing by a qualified laboratory, as directed by the environmental professional, may be needed in order to make an informed decision. Encapsulation, removal and disposal of asbestos products must be done by a qualified asbestos-abatement contractor. 

For more information, visit www.nachi.org/go/epaasbestos

 

#asbestos #homesafety #healthhazard

Flood Zones

Flood Zones 

Check with local authorities to determine if your home is in a flood-risk zone. If it is, check with local building officials. Higher standards than those set by national agencies have been adopted by many communities. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program have established and defined five major flood-risk zones and created special flood-resistance requirements for each.

For a flood map, visit www.nachi.org/go/femamaps.

Improperly designed grading and drainage may aggravate flood hazards to buildings and cause runoff, soil erosion and sedimentation in the zones of lower flood risk, according to the Interflood Zone and the Non-Regulated Flood Plain.

In these locations, local agencies may regulate building elevations above street or sewer levels.

In the next higher risk zones, the Special Flood Hazard Areas and the Non-Velocity Coastal Flood Areas (both Zone A), the elevation of the lowest floor and its structural members above the base flood elevation is required.

In the zone of highest flood risk, the Coastal High Hazard Areas (Velocity Zone, Zone V), additional structural requirements apply.

#floodzones #floodzone #flood

Preventing Moisture Intrusion

PREVENTING MOISTURE INTRUSION

Monitor the Exterior 

Planters:  Check any planting beds adjacent to the foundation of your house because planters are built in a way that traps water, which may infiltrate hidden areas of your home. The structure around the planting beds acts like a dam and traps water. Flower planters should never be installed up against a house’s exterior wall. 

Puddles:  Puddles and areas of standing water are not good. The ground surface beneath decks, porches and other parts of a house that are supported by posts or cantilevered structures should be checked, especially if you have a sprinkler system. The ground should not have any low-lying areas but should be sloped so that water will not collect and puddle there. Settled backfill allows water to collect next to the foundation wall and penetrate the house’s foundation. 

Gutters & Downspouts:  Downspouts may need adjustment. Water from the roof reaches the ground through gutters and downspouts or by flowing directly off roof edges. Because downspouts create concentrated sources of water in the landscape, where they discharge is important. Downspouts should not discharge where water will flow directly onto or over a walkway, driveway or stairs. The downspouts on a hillside home should discharge on the downhill-side of the building. The force of water leaving a downspout is sometimes great enough to damage the adjacent ground, so some protection at grade, such as a splash block or a paved drainage chute, is needed. In urban areas, it is better to drain downspouts to an underground storm water drainage system, if there is one, or underground to discharge at a lower grade away from buildings. Water that flows directly off a roof lacking gutters and downspouts can cause damage below. Accordingly, some provision in the landscaping may be needed, such as a gravel bed or paved drainage way.

#moistureinstrusion #exterior #homemaintenance

Retaining Walls

Retaining Walls

If possible, weep holes and related drains should be assessed following a heavy rain to make sure they are working properly. If they are not discharging water, the drains should be cleaned out and observed again in the next rain. Retaining walls more than 2 feet high should be backed with drainage material, such as gravel. There should be drains at the bottom of the drainage material that should discharge the water either at the end of the wall or through pipes. These drains and the drainage material behind the wall relieve the pressure of groundwater on the wall. Failure to drain could be remedied by excavating behind the wall, replacing the drainage material and damaged drainage piping, and backfilling. In all but the driest climates, improper drainage of water from behind a retaining wall can cause the wall to fail. 

Look for movement in your retaining walls. Bowing (vertical bulges), sweeping (horizontal bulges), and cracking in retaining walls can be caused by water pressure (or hydrostatic pressure). Bulging can also be a result of inadequate strength to resist the load of the earth behind the wall. Bowing and sweeping failures may be correctable if found early enough and if the cause is poor drainage. 

There are other types of failures of retaining walls. Failure by over-turning (leaning from the top) or sliding may be caused by inadequate wall strength. In addition, water behind a wall can create unstable earth, especially in clay soils, and contribute to sliding. Retaining walls also fail due to settlement and heaving. Settlement occurs whenever filled earth below the wall compacts soon after the wall is built, or when wet earth caused by poor drainage dries out and soil consolidates. In cold climates, poor drainage contributes to failure by creating heaving from frozen ground. Both overturning and sliding earth may be stabilized and sometimes corrected if the amount of movement is not extreme. Settling may be corrected on small, low walls of concrete or masonry, and heaving may be controlled by proper drainage. Significant failure of any kind usually requires rebuilding or replacing all or part of a wall. Consult a qualified professional when major repairs or corrections are needed.

#retainingwalls #retainingwall

Laundry and Utility Rooms

Laundry and Utility Rooms

Laundry Room:  Watch for leaks and kinks developing at plumbing connections to the washing machine.  Water can overflow from the top or bottom if the machine is overloaded with a load that’s too big, or if it is resting on an uneven surface.  

Protect the electrical or natural gas connections to the dryer and ensure that they are not disturbed or accidentally dislodged from their connections.

A gas dryer vent that passes through walls or combustible materials must be made of metal.  The length of a dryer exhaust ensures that its blower will be able to push sufficient air volume to take away the laundry’s damp air and lint. The maximum length of the exhaust hose should not be greater than 25 feet from the dryer to the termination at the wall or roof.  The length can be increased only when the make and model of the dryer are known. 

Inspect the dryer venting to make sure it is not clogged or restricted, which will help the unit operate efficiently and normally, as well as prevent the unit’s motor from overheating and failing.  A clogged or restricted vent hose may also lead to an accidental fire caused by the ignition up built-up debris.  

The clothes dryer exhaust poses a different problem than other exhaust systems because the air is damp and carries lint.  Ensure that the vent exhausts to the outside and not to the attic, crawlspace, or attached garage because the wooden structural members of the house could be affected over time.  The exhaust vent’s termination should have a backdraft damper installed to prevent cold air, rain, snow, rodents, and birds from entering the vent.  The vent termination should not have a screen on it, as this can trap lint and other debris and pose a fire hazard.

Furnace Room:  Rooms or closets containing combustion or fuel-burning equipment or appliances should not be located off a bedroom in a single-family residence (and must be in a publicly accessible area in a multi-family building). 

#laundryroom #utilityroom