Anyone who’s ever renovated all or part of their house knows that a lot of planning goes into a successful project. If you’re intending to renovate an older home, one pre-reno step you should take is to inspect for the presence of these potentially dangerous substances.
Older homes and neighbourhoods might have lead pipes, either in the municipal supply line coming into the house or in plumbing within the home. The lead in these pipes can leech into your water supply, and lead is known to cause many harmful health effects, including on the brain and nervous system. This is particularly dangerous for pregnant people and young children.
If you have reason to be concerned, many municipalities provide free water testing kits to check for lead contamination. It’s also helpful to run the tap until the water is cold. This can help reduce your exposure to lead.
Lead paint may also be on walls of homes built before 1991, sometimes even hidden under layers of newer paint. Have the paint in your home tested if you think it may contain lead.
If there’s a musty smell in your home, particularly in the basement, that could indicate the presence of mould. You may also see it, in the form of stains and discolouration on walls, carpets, windowpanes or other household surfaces.
For small areas, you can kill and remove the mould with soap and water. For larger areas, you should seek professional remediation.
You should also determine the source of the moisture that caused the mould to form and eliminate that. It could be from water damage or too much moisture in the air. Be sure to clean up immediately after any flood.
Radon is a naturally occurring, odourless radioactive gas found in soil across the country. Outside, it safely dissipates into the air. But indoors, it can build up to dangerous levels. In fact, long-term radon exposure is the main cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Luckily, it’s easy to test for. And, if excess radon is detected, professional remediation measures can help reduce radon levels by more than 80 per cent.
Many building materials found in older homes could contain asbestos, including plaster walls, floor tiles and insulation. It may be behind the walls or wrapped around water lines and ductwork.
If you have materials in your home that might contain asbestos, contact a professional to test before you begin any demolition. If it’s found, hire a qualified asbestos removal specialist to get rid of it before starting work.
Learn more about planning renovations and DIY projects at canada.ca/healthy-home