Friday, April 29, 2011

Home Maintenance Confusion

I am kinda out of my element when it comes to fixing things. Or knowing what to fix. Or when to fix it. It's a big question, what to tackle and what to let go. Right now even the crash course I have had since I became the church's house committee chair isn't helping.

Yesterday, I met with two painting contractors about dealing with lead paint at my new house. It had actually taken a while to figure out where all the lead paint was and where it wasn't. We have figured that out and so I had the two painters in to give me quotes for removing the crumbling lead paint that's between the window sashes and storm windows, and repaint of course.

The first guy told me not to waste my money paying him. He said that the lead would only be a problem if a child ate a hole window sill full. He said that I should scrape the paint myself and then put a mask on my son and have him follow behind me with a shop vac and vacuum the stuff up. I asked about dust and he said, "That's all hype." He said for him to do the job would mean taking off the storm windows and that would be very labor intensive.

The second guy told me it was lead dust, not paint chips, that are the problem. He told me that covering the windows on the inside, taking the storms off and doing the job from the outside would be cheaper and easier on my family than sealing off each room separately. He also pointed out a few other areas of lead concern that he recommended be handled before we moved in, but he said we really didn't have a serious lead problem compared to others he had seen. A few issues he said I could handle myself because it just meant going over intact paint. A few he thought needed scraping and the use of lead-safe procedures.

Now who do I believe? I felt more confident of the information given me by painter number two. He seemed both more knowledgeable and more competent as he spoke of state requirements, even though he was much younger and much less experienced.

But, appearances can be deceiving. Perhaps he is just more professional in demeanor.

And what if his quote is too high? Can I safely do this myself? Every booklet and website I've seen that explains how includes an encouragement to hire a lead certified contractor to handle the job instead. But often, on the forums of those sites, there are people who talk about there being too much concern over lead. Some even say no protections are needed.

My head is spinning. I don't know how to figure it out. What's OK and what's not? What is necessary and what is overkill?

I am feeling my way here and I feel anxious. I am just not sure how to proceed.

That's what's on my mind today.


  1. I would consider doing it yourself Melinda - have Jordon visit somewhere overnight and clean up really good. It's not hype -the dust can be dangerous so you need a good mask. Do it on a day you can get a lot of ventilation with open windows - if you can do it from the outside that would be cool. There's also special paint you can use to cover over lead, but if it's cracking and pealing it should be removed first.

  2. Honestly, I would hire someone to take care of it...I know, conflicting to what your other commenter stated LOL! To me, the health of my children or of myself, inhaling that dust and not knowing how to handle it, no matter how "minor" would leave me too much out of my element and I would be more of a hazard to myself, putting my own health at risk. To me, it sounds like the second guy knows what he is talking about and lead, no matter how "minor" is serious to me.

  3. I would definitely follow the advice of painter number 2. You can also look up good advice on the internet, e.g. here, or here. It helps you to countercheck information you get from professionals.

  4. I would used painter number two, and make sure he is certified for lead removal. Lead is a highly toxic metal and can make every one on your family sick. Leave it to the professionals, and painter 2 sounds like he is one. Good Luck in your new home!

  5. I responded to you on FB. Avoid painter #1. Lead is not hype. It's also not a one ingestion and you're toast poison. It acts over many exposures over time. Or one big exposure. Btw, it's Sarah here, but I can't figure out quickly how to post any way but anonymously.