Friday, June 4, 2010

I hate this house

Warning: Long, Complaining Whine Ahead

This was going to be the summer when we fixed the house and got it looking decent inside. Scott was replacing our old, stained, threadbare carpet with wood laminate floor. I was going to scrape paint off of trim and sand it in hopes that we can get the trim looking decent after a coat of good primer and paint. I was also going to repaint every room I could manage to get done.

So, as I was dry scraping the paint (a process that was working better than I expected), I had a gut feeling and decided to stop and walk to the local hardware store with the kids for a lead paint test kit. We had used one of these kits years before and didn't get positive results in any of the several places we tried. For some reason, I felt I needed to double check.

This picture shows the area I was scraping and tested. The directions say it will turn pink or red in the presence of lead. I definitely got pink on the 4th layer down.

Great. Sam was helping me scrape (he wants to help) and Madelynn was playing on the ground just feet away. Everyone, inhale deeply and enjoy those lead particles.

So, I've been doing some more reading. Children at greatest risk of lead poisoning are those living in old homes with deteriorating paint that is cracking, chalking, peeling, chipping, etc.

Let's tour my home:

Our coat closet door has chipping paint.

Here's the trim around the opening between the living room and school room. The other side looks the same. What's worse, is this trim was the most recently painted. It starts to chip within a couple months of being painted, which is why I was going for the scraping, sanding, primering, painting method rather than just repainting.

This is the door jamb between the dining room and the "hall", otherwise known as the 3 by 5 foot space that leads to the stairs, bathroom, and Mika's room. There are always paint chips along the walls here.

This is the trim at the bottom of the stairs.

The doors aren't doing too hot either. This is our front door, which I painted a couple of years ago.

Our bathroom door is in horrible shape. It's cracking, peeling, and chipping.

Mika's door has large sections peeled off in addition to the normal chipping.

I don't know if there's lead in our kitchen but our drawers are chipping too. There's always dust in the drawers.

So, in talking to the National Lead Information Center, I'm suppose to remove the kids from the premise for the duration of the project and have certified professionals do a proper abatement. They said painting over it isn't sufficient. They also told me to call my local state department dealing with all this. (It happens to be the Department of Commerce.) They don't work on Fridays so I've been told to call back on Monday and I might here back from the guy on Tuesday. So, everything is on hold until then.

I've also been told that Scott shouldn't have ripped up the carpet without proper respirator, hazmat suit, and containment because it was probably full of lead dust. Too late now...except that he's not done. That hall and Mika's room still needs to be ripped up. He's got finishing work in the other rooms too. Even if he finished the work the right way, he doesn't want to in case it all ends up needing to be ripped up for abatement anyway. What's the point. Meanwhile, all our stuff is piled in my bedroom. How am I suppose to run our home and home school when all of our stuff is piled in my bedroom for who knows how long?

So, my reading tells me that the biggest danger is from the dust. They say that dry dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming with a vacuum containing a beater brush kicks the dust back up into the air where we'll breathe it. The information says to one dust with a wet cloth and only dry mop. I've even read that carpets would be cleaned with a cleaner, not a vacuum. But can a wet mop really clean well enough without sweeping first?

This was what I got sweeping ONE small room when it had been swept and mopped the day before. I don't think a wet mop would work without sweeping first. How am I suppose to clean and keep the dust from being breathed?

And how am I suppose to clean the bedrooms when they are piled high with stuff? There's not much more than a walkway up there. We don't really want to bring it all back down when the work is still undone.

I'm not a happy camper.

I have to get my kids lead tested. I'll be insisting on it during their annual check ups, which are already scheduled for this and next month.

I think Scott and I should be lead tested. We have no insurance so I know that will cost us at least $100 for each of us for the office visit. But he had a huge exposure. I've sanded walls in the past, the last time I tried painting.

We hate our house. It's too small for us. One bathroom and six people is chaotic at times. It's in a bad neighborhood. We had a meth lab across the street. We had a drug house around the corner. It's on a busy, major arterial where cars go well over the posted 35mph speed limit. We have a tiny yard that's not really suitable for playing outside. The house foundation is sinking in one corner. My eyeballing it wants to say it's at a 5-10% angle. The crumbling, plaster walls need to be replaced. The exterior paint needs to be redone. The windows on the south side are crumbling. The porch is separating from the house. We've lost every penny of our equity to the economy. I was trying to make the best of it by scraping, sanding, repainting and making the house as nice as possible for us. Now this.

Oh, and in the process of looking for information, I found that old vinyl laminate like we have in our kitchen may contain both lead and asbestos hazards. That was another future project I had in mind.

I hate this house.

There is hope that the home test was wrong. That it was a false positive. I have to wait until I get that call from the Department of Commerce.

I still hate this house.

UPDATE: The irony of all this is that my home test kit gave me a false positive.  We had our home professionally tested today (June 22) and there is no lead in our trim.  It's all over outside and in the walls, but not in the trim or the interior doors anywhere. 

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Anonymous said...

This sounds so scary and stressful - I am so sorry you guys have to deal with it!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I'm a homeschooling mom in WA State too! I just stumbled on your blog and read your post about your home- so sorry!

Hubby and I also have no health insurance and I wanted to pass along a great clinic that we've found. It's called Haller Lake Medical Clinic and it's based out of a church in Northgate, the phone# is 206-363-4105. The cost is just $5 to see a doctor and they offer medical, dental, vision care as well as specialists. This has really helped us save money in this current economy. If you don't mind seeing a new doctor, maybe you could get lead tested there?

Best of luck!