Dealing with Lead, Asbestos, and Radon in Old Homes

Francine L. Huff

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, buying an historic home is like a box of chocolates, since you never know what you'll get down the line in terms of repairs and maintenance. If you're buying an historic home, here are three toxic substances that could end up draining your bank account.

Get the Lead Out
Many old homes have lead-based paint that can be hazardous to children or pets if it flakes or peels off. If lead paint is found in siding it could cost around $12,000 to $15,000 to properly remove it, according to Bankrate. Check with your local government to see if they have a loan program to help pay for removing lead paint. Lead pipes can also create problems. Installing a water filtration system can help deal with lead in water pipes. Expect to spend about $500 for a kitchen system and about $2,000 for a whole house system. Replacing all pipes may cost around $5,000.

Test for Radon

Radon, a natural radioactive gas that you can't see, smell, or taste, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America for nonsmokers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Radon generally enters homes through foundation cracks. You can have your home tested to determine the level of radon. There are different ways of fixing radon leaks but expect to pay as much as $6,000 for a new foundation and plumbing if necessary, according to Bankrate.

All About Asbestos
Asbestos can only be removed legally with a permit because of its hazardous nature. Asbestos was commonly used to insulate furnaces and boilers, in vinyl floor coverings, and in some siding and roofing materials. The softer form found in insulation tends to be more troublesome because it can send up toxic dust when touched. If you're removing asbestos from the interior of your home it could cost at least $500 to $1,000, according to Bankrate. Replacing exposed asbestos on the exterior of your home could cost as much as $15,000.

Having a thorough inspection before purchasing an old home can help flag any potential problems that you may need to address for your own safety. Fixing problems with toxic substances in your old home is necessary to protect your health.

Sources:
Bankrate.com
"8 common hazards in your old house," by Jay MacDonald, www.bankrate.com.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

About the Author
Francine L. Huff is a freelance journalist and the author of The
25-Day Money Makeover for Women. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows.



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