Lead-paint misery

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  #1  
Old 08-19-11, 05:34 PM
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Lead-paint misery

Hi! We recently bought a lovely old house that needs some work; somehow, we neglected to have the home inspected for lead-based paint. And we had no idea just how expensive it could be to hire a professional to help with abatement.

Most of the paint *inside* the home is in pretty good shape, and lower in lead than the outside. The exterior, though, is in pretty miserable shape; there are only a couple-three layers of paint out there, and they're peeling all the way down to bare wood.

The back door had an enclosed porch, so it seemed like a pretty good place to try to figure out how to remove the paint. I sealed it all up, picked up some RemoVall 320, and went to work.

It was miserable. I've never tried anything like this before, so I knew there would be some wrinkles to work out, but this is just not working very well. The stuff comes off in gluey wads, sticking to *everything*--the tools, the bucket I'm collecting globs in, the Visqueen, and especially my gloves. It's working, after a fashion, but it's incredibly slow going, and the paint does not come off all that easily. It's bad enough in the mud-room, and I hesitate to even think about what it's going to be like on the outside--let alone the bathroom (which *does* have LBP, and is also the only bathroom in the house).

Any tips? What am I doing wrong here? Is there a better way to do this? We've got a seven-year-old and a six-month-old, so we really want this taken care of...
 
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Old 08-20-11, 03:04 AM
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Not that it is going to help you a lot, but disclosure at time of sale about lead based paint is mandatory. The old "I didn't know it was there" excuse doesn't cut it, especially on older homes. There should have also been a bank inspection if financed and that inspector knew there was lead, but covered his eyes.
Real Estate Disclosure | Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil | US EPA
Lots of articles out there.

Bud
 
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Old 08-20-11, 07:58 AM
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We waived the lead-paint inspection. We really wanted to move, the price was great, and we just didn't know how expensive lead abatement was. We read up on asbestos, and I stupidly assumed that lead paint would be marginally more expensive. I'm kicking myself, because we got the sellers to give us an extension until we got results from testing the plumbing; they told our realtor that even if the plumbing had lead in it, that we shouldn't just walk away. So they probably would have worked with us on the paint. We did *almost* everything right; it's just the big expensive thing we whiffed on.

So now we're stuck. I'm not exactly afraid of tackling the problem; if nothing else, I know that I'll be extra-careful cleaning up after myself. It's just that something isn't working quite right with either the paint-stripper or the way I'm using it.
 
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Old 08-20-11, 08:32 AM
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I have always avoided homes with lead paint so no help in your process. I know if I want to do any work on your home, I need to be lead certified, as there are methods and procedures that I must follow, I assume containment and disposal. Although I have no idea as to your local requirements and how any would apply to a home owner, containment and disposal are probably still issues.

Plus, there is one more. Certification that all was done properly, a question that may come up when you go to sell.

Good luck
Bud
 
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Old 08-20-11, 05:20 PM
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The new lead abatement laws changed how contractors have to deal with lead paint. I know homeowners have more leeway than contractors but I don't know how much. Local regs can be stricter than the national reg. If you google lead abatement you'll find plenty of info about it.

The biggest dangers with lead is the indigestion of lead paint chips and the inhalation of lead dust. It is very important to contain any lead debris! While you can easily protect yourself with a respirator, if you don't contain and remove the lead - it can still be a danger later. Lead chips left on the ground can contaminate the ground so you need to be sure you work in a manner that will contain all the suspect debris.

Lead paint hasn't been used on exterior residential work since the mid 70's so it's quite possible that most of the lead paint has been removed long ago. Protected areas like in your porch and under the eaves are the most likely to have retained the lead based paints.
 
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Old 08-20-11, 07:19 PM
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All the paint on the outside meets the legal definition for lead paint, according to the XRF test we had done. It's worst on the second story, especially under the eaves. I'm trying to do everything right; since I don't want lead where *I* live, I'm trying to keep it from spreading anywhere else, either.

Anybody have any recommendations as to infrared stripping vs. chemical?
 
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Old 08-21-11, 04:08 AM
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Hi pegleg,
Somehow you have to get out of this hole you're in and as you have discovered, it isn't going to be easy.
#1 option would be to bring in a professional crew and it's done and certified and most importantly safe for you and your family.

#2 is to do it yourself, but not by removing first and asking questions later. YOU need to be certified or at least educated on lead to a level well above a DIY forum. Here is a quote from some of the reading I've done for you.
"There is no completely safe method for do-it-yourself removal of lead-based paint. Each paint removal method -- sandpaper, scrapers, chemicals, and heat guns -- can produce lead fumes or dust in the air that can be inhaled. Dust can settle on floors, walls and tables. It can be ingested through hand-to-mouth contact and re-enter the air through cleaning (such as sweeping or vacuuming) or when people move throughout the house."
From: Lead-Based Paint in Homes<
There are many web sites stating basically the same.

I wish I could give you an ABC list of how to do this, I can't. There are federal rules and state/local rules you need to dig up and start with. If the professional approach is not possible, then you need to become the professional and do this right.

I sincerely wish you the best.
Bud
 
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Old 08-22-11, 06:27 PM
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Hmmm... Somehow, I think this went off-track. I'm up to speed on how to contain the work area and clean up afterward, I'm familiar with my local regulations about disposal, etc. I'm just looking for some advice about the most efficient way to actually remove the paint itself. Since the RemoVall is working, after a fashion, I'll be able to finish the mud-room project; it's just that I'm starting to wonder if it's the quickest and easiest way to do this. The health and disposal aspects are something I've got a fairly good handle on--what I need advice about is the actual *removal* itself.
 
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Old 08-23-11, 04:08 AM
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Sorry about the drifting, but understand we never know who we are talking to, some people really do have 5 thumbs on each hand.

Let's see if any of the pros have a better approach to actually getting the paint off.

PS, sweat equity really makes a good home.

Bud
 
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Old 08-23-11, 04:31 AM
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Basically there are 4 ways to remove paint; scraping [fairly easy to contain the debris but may leave some lead paint on the siding], sanding [not a good idea with lead paint!] a heat gun [softens up the paint so it can be scraped off] and a paint stripper.

While it's a good idea to complete remove all the lead based paint on the lower areas, I'd be inclined to leave the sound paint like what's on the overhang. As long as the failing paint is removed, a fresh coat of paint over lead paint will help that paint stay adhered to the wood. If it weren't for your kids, it would have been fine to paint over the sound paint on your porch.

I don't use paint remover often enough to be able to say if one brand is better than another. You might try another brand after you use up your RemoVall, it will take a lot of stripper to complete the job so you could become an expert on the different brands. Most strippers are brushed on and then should be scraped off when the paint starts to bubble. If you scrape too soon, the stripper doesn't have enough time to be as effective as it can be but if you wait too long and the stripper starts to dry - the paint will start to harden back up
 
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Old 08-23-11, 04:41 AM
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I've never had to deal with lead paint but I've heard using too much heat can vaporize the lead, so I'd investigate that method pretty thoroughly before trying it.
 
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Old 08-23-11, 05:21 AM
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Good point Mitch! I'm sure I've used a torch to heat and scrape lead paint..... but that was a long time ago when we didn't realize all the dangers, used to spray asbestos on school ceilings too
 
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Old 08-23-11, 06:21 PM
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IMO abatement is the problem. You should research encapsulation.
 
  #14  
Old 08-23-11, 09:22 PM
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Yeah, I'm not gonna use the heat-gun, because even aside from the fire risk, it'll release a lot of lead fumes. There are lower-temperature infrared heaters, like the "Silent Paint Remover;" unfortunately, most people I've talked to say they're pretty shoddily made. If I can make the stripper work better (practice makes perfect?) then I'll probably stick with that for the interior areas that need removal and maybe use it on part of the outside.

Encapsulation is probably the way to go inside, since most of the paint doesn't meet the legal definition of "lead-based paint" anyway. But I'm going to try to remove as much as possible, since I'm going to have to disclose it to a buyer if we ever sell.

And finally, to Bud: Thanks for the words of caution and encouragement. Sweat equity is going to be our hobby for the next couple of years, I think! Other than the paint, at least, it's all *fun* projects rather than dangerous, expensive ones. :P
 
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