How Do I Know If My Home Has Lead Paint?

Lead remained one of the significant paint ingredients until a few years ago when scientists discovered its potential hazards.

If inhaled or eaten, lead can cause several health issues, ranging from anemia to seizures and even death.

According to the EPA, lead is a neurotoxin that can create several health problems.

It is particularly hazardous for children because a high lead level in blood can cause developmental, behavioral, and learning deficits.

This discovery was a red flag for many residents. It was time to inspect their homes and eliminate lead traces from their surroundings.

What is lead paint?

How to tell if your home has lead-based paint

When added to the paints, lead accelerates the drying process and prevents moisture. It also enhances the durability of the paint and improves its appearance.

Initially, it was considered an effective and cheap way to manufacture paints.

In 1978, the United States banned the inclusion of lead in paint ingredients. Therefore, it is unlikely to find lead-based paints in any hardware stores now.

However, one should be cautious when purchasing a property. If it is an old house, you must ensure that the paint used isn’t lead-based.

How Do I Know If My Home Has Lead Paint?

Even though you may suspect that your home has lead paint, there is no sure-fire way to look at the paint and tell right away.

It would help if you looked for some things as typical signs of lead paint presence.

Know when your place was built

As mentioned earlier, the United States banned lead paint in 1978.

If your home was built before that period, you should automatically consider the presence of lead in your surroundings.

EPA also states that around half of the homes constructed during that period contained lead paints. The further the date goes back, the higher the chances of lead presence.

If you have no idea about the construction date, you should ask the previous owners or the landlord.

Feel free to ask them all they know about the material used for construction and specifically the paints used.

Even if you learn that the home was built after 1978, you shouldn’t rule out the possibility of lead presence.

It was later revealed that some painters and builders stored lead-based paints and used them after the 1980s too.

Know the health symptoms of lead

Staying aware of the consequences of lead on your health is one of the best ways to know its presence.

If you or any other family member is experiencing unusual symptoms, lead may be the source of these issues.

A few early symptoms of lead paint are:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Constipation
  • Muscular pain
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Memory loss
  • Weakness and pain

Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning as they touch the paint and ingest the chips or lead dust.

Lead exposure can cause severe issues for young children. It creates developmental issues, and they may face behavioral troubles too.

Other symptoms of increased lead levels in young children include learning disorders and irritability.

Spot signs of warped paints

Signs of lead paint at home

Lead paints can become more hazardous if they start chipping or deteriorating. Even when it has lead, well-maintained paint doesn’t cause serious issues.

So, if you are trying to find lead paint, you should start by spotting areas with damaged paint. These are the areas that produce paint chips and lead-contaminated dust.

It is commonly assumed that the deterioration of lead paint differs from the others. They call it “alligatoring.”

This is the pattern of cracked paint on the surface that looks like alligator skin.

However, note that this pattern of paint cracking isn’t specific to lead-based paints. It shows that the paint is old, making your paint more likely to have lead as its ingredient.

Look for sublayers of paint

You may also notice multiple layers of paint on a surface in old buildings. People who lived earlier may have re-painted the walls.

You could see a clean wall of paint on the surface, but there could be a layer of lead-based paint underneath.

As discussed above, the older the paint, the higher the chances of lead content.

You should automatically understand that the paint used on one of these layers contains lead and take measures to remove it.

Use home lead test kits

Lead test kits contain a chemical that will change color if it detects lead in paint.

But, these kits are not considered entirely reliable, making it necessary to go for a professional investigation.

Another limitation of these kits is that they can only detect paint on the most external layer. If the wall has multiple layers, it could be challenging to detect lead present in one of these layers.

Should you seek the assistance of a home inspector to detect lead?

If the home is old and you face severe health issues, you should seek professional help to derive an actual result.

They use a unique XRF analyzer tool to measure the amount of lead content in a wall.

If the measurement shows over 0.5 milligrams of lead per square centimeter, it is a positive sign of lead presence.


How can I tell if the lead is a hazard in my home?

The best way to tell if the lead is present in your paint is by seeking the services of a certified lead-based paint inspector.

Home lead testing kits are also an option, but they aren’t always reliable.

How can I remove lead from my home?

To avoid their hazards, you must remove, enclose, or encapsulate the lead-based paints.

A professional lead abatement contractor will perform this job while being careful of the chips and dust.

You should expect to pay around $8 to $15 per square foot.

Final Thoughts

Leaving this matter unattended can create severe issues for the residents. We suggest you perform your due diligence and get a place free of all these toxins.

The signs above will help you find out if this space is a good fit for you and your family.