I hope you all had a good summer! This has been on my mind for a while so I wanted to get the word out to those of you who aren’t aware much like I wasn’t aware when I bought my first home. We love the neighborhood and the character of our older homes. Many of you like to do projects on your own house. There are a few things to seriously consider before your start refinishing those hardwood floors, or before your start tearing into that plaster wall. There are two major health risks present in most older homes. The first is lead. The second is asbestos. You may be thinking I don’t have a gravity furnace that has the asbestos wrap, so I’m good. Not so fast! Asbestos was commonly used in concrete and plaster. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. If you don’t know the dangers of asbestos, the short is it can cause lung cancer. Airborne asbestos is not something that you want to be inhaling. So, before you open that kitchen wall, make sure you have the proper gear. Or, better yet hire a contractor that does.
As for lead, it’s in more than just your paint. Those of you considering refinishing your floors yourself. Lead was commonly use in the old varnish. The hardwood floors and the natural woodwork that we all adore… You got it, lead is most likely present. Make sure you have the proper respirator. Dust collection bags and HEPA vacuum’s on edgers reduce the amount that goes airborne when refinishing hardwood floors but doesn’t eliminate it. I’d get the proper respirator and do my research on how to safely work with lead. Lead produces neurotoxic effects to the human body and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov says this about lead. “In adults, lead poisoning can cause nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body, leading to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease /95/, hearing and vision impairment, schizophrenia, and impaired cognitive function.”  That doesn’t sound like a price worth paying to save a few hundred dollars to refinish the floors yourself. Save up a little longer if you have to and hire a professional. If you are still bent on doing the floors yourself, do your research and protect your lungs.
There are definitely other health hazards present in any era house. These two in particular I wanted to get you thinking about before you start your next project as the potential damage to your health can be serious. So, do your research and protect yourself. Also, weigh the cost. Is it really worth it in the end to tackle this project yourself? Or, would it be better to hire a contractor who has the proper gear and knowledge to do the job right which in turn protects you and your family. We live in incredible homes, just be smart. That’s all for now. Have a great day! – Travis