Once lead hazards throughout the home have been identified, the next step is to decide which remediation to use with each hazard. If you chose to hire a licensed professional to do a Lead Risk Assessment, your report will clearly outline one or more options for each hazard. If you decided to go the DIY route, you’ll have to do some research to determine which remediation techniques are appropriate for each hazard. I highly recommend reading Chapter 11 of the HUD Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint in Housing https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/LBPH-13.PDF. This chapter explains all the possible “Interim Control” options for addressing each hazard.
However, while Cleveland’s law only requires Interim Controls, there may be hazards where “Abatement” is the best option. When choosing between Interim Controls and Abatement, the following should be considered:
· Interim Controls will have lower initial costs, but there will be long term maintenance needed. Cleveland’s law will require recertification of the lead safe status of your home every two years, so there will be recurring costs.
· Abatement methods will typically have greater initial costs, but there will be little if any maintenance required.
Other considerations are availability of funds, condition of component involved, and whether you can do the work yourself or have to hire a professional.
IMPORTANT NOTE: According to federal law, anyone doing remediation - including property owners - have to obtain a Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) certification. This means you the landlord, and any professionals you hire will need to be RRP certified. Information on how to get certified can be found at https://leadsafecle.org/lead-safe-workers .
So, what are some examples of the decisions you’ll have to make? Let’s look at a few common components:
· Deteriorated paint on walls and ceilings. Most of the time, you’ll choose the Interim Control option called “Paint Film Stabilization”. While I often refer to this as repainting, it’s actually quite a bit more than that. All debris and paint chips must be removed, the surface made smooth and cleanable, application of a primer, and a topcoat of paint by the same manufacturer. Chapter 11 of the HUD Guidelines gives a more detailed description. However, if these surfaces have been significantly damaged by water leaks for example, the Abatement option of replacing the drywall may be best.
· Wood windows. I’ve done hundreds of home inspections on old houses with old wooden windows. Most of the time the windows are inoperable and/or greatly damaged from wood rot, deterioration, and exposure to the elements. Even if the windows are in good condition, your best option is probably going to be window replacement, which is the Abatement option. The Interim Control option is very technical and involves removing the window and its components, replacing some parts and installing others, cleaning all remaining parts including the counterbalances, and reassembling the window. This is well beyond the abilities of most DIYers. Due to the labor-intensive aspect of this work, hiring a professional to do it would likely cost the same as just having the windows replaced. For most landlords, this will be the most expensive part of complying with Cleveland’s lead law.
· Wood painted exteriors. This choice will mostly come down to condition. If the wood is in good condition, repainting (or Paint Film Stabilization) is a good Interim Control option. Cleveland’s got some beautiful historic houses and keeping the painted wood exterior contributes to the neighborhood charm. If the exterior’s been kept up over the years, you may only need to do some touch-up work in areas of deteriorated paint. However, if the entire exterior needs repainted or the wood is in poor condition, your best option may be the Abatement option which is re-siding the home. Once this is done, little if any maintenance will be needed to keep the exterior lead safe.
· Porches. The Interim Control option is to cover the floor with indoor/outdoor carpeting. If the wood is in good condition, this will work. However, if there are several rotted boards, you may be better off replacing the flooring. Covering the floor with carpet can trap moisture and wood could be deteriorating rapidly underneath without your knowledge, making for a dangerous situation. (Funny side note: As a Lead Risk Assessor, I recommend carpeting porch floors in my Risk Assessment reports all the time. This recommendation follows federal guidelines. However, as a home inspector, I write up carpeted porches as a safety hazard because it can lead to rotted floors. My recommendations depend on what I’ve been hired to do that day.)
· Soil. You’ll almost always choose the Interim Control option for this. It’s a lot cheaper to cover bare soil with mulch or put latticework around porches than it is to remove soil and have it disposed as toxic waste. However, if you have an old dirt driveway, the Abatement option of covering with concrete may be your best option and a nice upgrade. Keep in mind that, if you’ve had any soil testing done and the results had lead concentrations above a certain threshold, you will have no choice but to use Abatement options.
These are just some examples of decisions you’ll have to make. You’ll have to be honest with yourself as to what you can reasonably do on your own, and get quotes from professionals for the rest. Thoroughly review Chapter 11 of the HUD Guidelines for all your Interim Control options. Chapter 12 will have the Abatement options if necessary. When in doubt, consult a licensed Lead Risk Assessor.