You bought an old house because you were smitten the moment you laid eyes on it. It’s got character, and it’s got charm. It also has a few things that could use a little work. If you’re considering renovating it, you may be nervous about the safety risks that come with it. You might be worried the renovation will cause damage and put your family in harm’s way.
Knowing how to make the process as safe as possible is vital. You may refer to this guide for the information you need to start.
1. Test For Asbestos
When renovating an old home, it’s essential to know that asbestos may be present. Asbestos is a mineral that was used in home construction from the 1950s through the 1970s. It was banned in 1989 because of its health risks. Asbestos exposure can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer affecting the abdominal cavity or chest lining, while asbestosis is a condition characterized by scarring of the lungs. Asbestos exposure can also cause colon, stomach, and rectal cancer.
Look around and see if any of these materials is present in the house:
- Building insulation
- Pipe insulation
- Roofing shingles
- Floor tiles
- Wallboard or drywall joint compound
Testing for asbestos can be complicated and requires certified professionals. You may consider Atlas Labs asbestos testing services or other independent laboratories. Let the experts determine if asbestos is present in your home’s interior or exterior.
2. Be Careful With Lead Paint
Lead paint is dangerous because it contains lead, which is highly toxic. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, brain damage, and other health issues in infants and young children. Lead paint was banned for use in homes in 1978. But many older homes built before that time may still have it on their walls and doors.
When working on your old home’s renovation project, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from lead exposure:
- Avoid disturbing painted surfaces that may contain lead.
- Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and a face mask, when working on projects that involve drywall or plaster removal.
- Use dust-control techniques such as wetting down floors before sanding and sweeping up dust particles with a wet mop.
You should be aware of a few things when renovating an older home. Lead paint is one of them.
3. Inspect For Insects And Rodents
When renovating old homes, it’s crucial to inspect for insects and rodents. Insects can be a severe problem in older houses. Insects like termites and carpenter ants are destructive and dangerous if they invade your living spaces. They can carry diseases and cause allergies and asthma attacks. Since these pests are usually found in wood, it’s critical to ensure that all the wood in the house is treated with insecticides before you begin any renovation work. Rodents such as mice or rats can also be a huge problem because they can cause damage to walls, furniture, and other materials. They can also spread diseases like hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. When renovating old houses, you can prevent rodent infestation by sealing up any holes in walls or floors that could let them into your home. Inspecting your home thoroughly before you begin any renovation is vital to ensure there are no issues with pests or rodents. If you find any damage or evidence of an infestation, you should hire a professional exterminator as soon as possible.
4. Repair Plumbing Issues
Old homes often have hidden plumbing problems that can cause major headaches down the road. For example, if your home was built before 1970, it’s likely to have lead pipes in the walls, which can be dangerous to your family’s health. Lead pipes can also cause problems with your water heater. For this reason, it’s crucial to have a plumber inspect your home’s plumbing system before starting renovations. The cost of replacing old plumbing systems depends on how much work needs to be done. Simply replacing old pipes with new ones could cost less than USD$1,000. However, depending on the square footage and your preferred material for the pipes, the expenses could run up to several thousand dollars.
5. Watch Out For Water Damage
Water damage is not limited to basements or bathrooms. It can happen wherever there’s water. When you’re buying an older home, inspect the following places for possible water damage:
- Kitchens And Bathrooms: These areas should have working water heaters, faucets, and toilets. If they don’t work properly, this could cause significant water damage over time.
- Water Pipes: Pipes that run through walls are especially vulnerable to leaks and breaks. Ensure all pipes are in good condition before moving into your new home so that these problems don’t come up later.
- Crawl Space: This is another area where water may collect over time due to poor ventilation or inadequate drainage systems. You’ll want to check here regularly for signs of mold growth or moisture buildup so that you can take care of the problem before it worsens.
When renovating old homes, you must be aware of your surroundings. Water damage can happen anytime, and you must be prepared for it.
6. Resolve Electrical Issues
When renovating a home, it’s essential to address any electrical issues. Not only can electrical problems lead to fire and other safety hazards, but they can also be expensive and inconvenient. Here are some tips for resolving electrical issues when renovating old homes:
- Deal with any electrical problems early on in the renovation process. You may only realize that you have an electrical issue once you start working on the house. Resolving the problem as soon as possible will save time and money in the long run.
- Ensure all the wiring is up to code when renovating old homes. If any wires don’t meet current standards, replace them immediately before anyone gets hurt or causes damage to your property.
- When renovating old homes, make sure that all electricity is turned off before beginning work on any electrical projects to prevent injury and damage to your property from short circuits or other malfunctions.
Make sure that your home has adequate electrical service. Older homes often have outdated electrical systems and wiring, so before starting a renovation project, get an electrician to inspect the wiring and determine if it needs updating.
7. Improve Ventilation
Ventilation is one of those things that many people only think about when it’s too late. If you’re building a new house, you can easily incorporate ventilation into the home design before construction begins. But when renovating an old home, it’s often more challenging to add adequate ventilation since the existing structure may not have enough openings for fresh air to enter. There are simple ways to improve ventilation in older homes without completely tearing out walls and rebuilding them. One way to do it is by installing a recirculating fan in a bathroom with no windows or other sources of outside air. This will help exhaust steam from showers and baths so air doesn’t become stagnant in the room. Another option is installing a fan in the attic or through a wall vent from the kitchen or living room into the attic space. This will remove hot air from inside your home and bring cooler air down from above, which can circulate throughout your house during the summer months when temperatures outside reach their peak levels. Another way to improve ventilation in older homes is by adding more windows so that fresh air can come in and circulate through each room.
8. Hire A Professional
Since it’s riskier to renovate old homes, consider hiring a professional. While it may seem like a good idea to save money and do it yourself, safety concerns can arise from not hiring an experienced contractor.
Here are some reasons why it’s advisable to hire a professional:
- Safety: This is an obvious reason, but it’s worth noting. You don’t want to risk hurting yourself or someone else while working on your home. Safety is especially critical when doing electrical work or plumbing repairs, as these projects require years of experience and training.
- Expertise: When renovating old homes, several aspects come into play, such as structural integrity, electrical wiring, and the presence of hazardous materials. These are only a few examples of critical areas where expertise is necessary to complete the job properly.
- Experience: A professional contractor with extensive experience in the above areas can handle any situation that might arise during the process.
When contracting a professional to renovate your old home, you don’t have to worry about safety. Their expertise and experience also give you an assurance that the job will be done right the first time.
When renovating an old home, the most important thing to remember is to plan and be prepared. You need to have all the right tools, know what you’re doing, and understand potential risks. If you follow this guide, you can rest assured that your renovation will be successful.