Cleaning up paint chips around my house


Old 06-18-07, 02:55 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Cleaning up paint chips around my house

I am getting my house painted and just had it power washed. The contractor, to my amazement, did not put down dropcloths before power washing and my house is now surrounded by millions of tiny paint chips. I have spent hours vacuuming and picking them up by hand, but have barely made a dent. To make matters worse, there is old lead paint on my house and I have a small child and my wife is pregnant with our second.

Is there any easy way to remove this hazard, or will I need to excavate and start over?
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Old 06-18-07, 04:45 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Cinti, OH
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You should make the contractor clean it up.
Old 06-18-07, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 4,320
Once they are on the ground, it's tough
Picking them up by hand, shop vac, or leaf blowing them out helps

In your case there is an easier way (in theory), call the contractor back
It is their responsibility
To be fair, I know it's nearly impossible to get all the chips, even with tarps
But it sounds like this company was irresponsible in the lack of collection

If those are truly lead paint chips on the ground, there are other issues to consider
Old 06-19-07, 07:08 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3

I appreciate the advice but the contractor has already pretty much shrugged it off. He did sweep up a lot of debris from the driveway and then said "the rest will come up when you mow your lawn," which is obviously bull. I don't want to pick a fight with the guy but I may have to.

Anyway, if I am stuck with paint chips everywhere, isn't there any practical way to clean it up other than spending a whole day with a Shop Vac? Would raking be any easier?
Old 06-19-07, 08:08 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: USA
Posts: 15,834
Rake up and dispose of all visible chips. You may have to dethatch the lawn and dispose of what you collect. Your local rental store may have a lawn sweeper with attached dethatcher. Most chips should be confined to the drip line of the house. You can dispose of mulch and apply new mulch in the area. Plant shrubs to keep children out of the drip line area and maintain lawn to avoid bare spots they could access. Bare soil is a hazard within 3 feet of the building. The top 6 to 8 inches of the soil will contain lead. This soil contains lead because the lead-based paint on the building ended up in the soil from scraping or falling off in the past. Even if you can not see paint chips, the lead is in the soil. Areas that have a good grass cover or landscaping to cover the soil are not a hazard. Top dressing lawn with soil may be helpful to cover off paint chips. You can have lead tests done of soil surrounding your house to determine extent of lead contamination over the years and if levels are high enough to require excavation. Blood tests can also be done to determine lead levels in family.
Old 06-21-07, 05:29 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Thumbs up Thanks a million!

Thanks, twelvepole--you have earned your "super moderator" status. That's exactly the information I was looking for.
Old 06-21-07, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 296
I can't belive that some local laws, and perhaps a federal law or 2 haven't been broken here.

It was lead paint that was knowingly knocked down by a contractor that didn't follow ANY lead abatement procedures. And the homeowner might be culpable as well if he didn't inform the contractor before starting the work.

People seem to have this devil may care attitude about disposal of hazardous materials. The OP stated that he picked up as many chips as he could. I would bet $20, he just tossed them in the garbage. That alone could get you a couple years in jail. Knowingly disposing of lead waste into the local waste dump is ILLEGAL.

This is the same mentalitly that has people dumping used motor oil down the sewer because they are too lazy to drive to Quick lube to dispose of it legally.
Or in this forums case, painters that dump paint thinner down the drain because they dont want to pay safety clean to pick up their spent cleaner.

OP I would have a serious talk with your "contractor". Inform him that unless he comes to pick up the mess, you will be calling the state EPA. The Gov't doesn't mess around with enviromental issues like this anymore. He will face serious fines, and possible criminal prosecution if you report him.

And shame on you if you went for the lowest bidder knowing you have lead issues. Any children, and pets that eat those chips are in serious risk of brain injury and a host of other health issues.

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