Old House Painting and New EPA Rules

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Old House Inspection, Old Houses, Old House Construction, Old House Musings, In The News

I received a couple of very good comments in response to my last post about the sanding I was doing on the exterior of my old house in preparation for painting. One of the comments had to do with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new law that took effect this year concerning lead paint safety and homes built prior to 1978.  The other comment took exception to my reply that I was confident the exterior of my home doesn’t have any lead paint. I stand by that reply, and I’ll touch on it in a moment.

An Old House in Autumn

An Old House in Autumn

Old House Paint Removal, Contractors, and the EPA

The Renovation, Repair, and Painting law took effect on April 22, 2010, and it requires that all contractors who are performing renovation, repair, or painting on a home built prior to 1978 be certified in lead-safe practices. They can get certified by attending EPA training courses that educate the contractors in work area containment, minimizing dust, how to clean up after working, and by paying a fee. The dust that’s created by sanding lead based paint can be very harmful, especially to children, and if you hire a contractor to do work on your old house built prior to 1978 that may disturb lead-based paint, the contractor is required to provide you with the EPA pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools. The pamphlet can also be downloaded.

Old House Paint Removal and Homeowners

How does the new EPA law affect homeowners doing restoration and remodeling work on their own home? Other than bringing to their attention the possible hazards to their family, it doesn’t, but if you live in a home built prior to 1978, you owe it to your family to at least download and read the pamphlet to ensure you’re protecting them from any possible hazards.

The Family

The Family

How does the new law affect the exterior paint prep on my old house? I’ll have to stand by my original reply: The paint I’m sanding off is partially latex that I put on the home during the late ’90s, and the bulk of it is cheap latex that was put on in 1990 prior to my purchasing the home. Most of the exposed 1990 latex is coming off with a pressure washer and below that is bare wood. Either the previous owner removed all the older paint or the weather did, as I think the home sat for a number of years unoccupied. I’ve been in the construction business long enough to recognize bare wood and I have no family members with less than four legs living with me.


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