7 min read Apr 09, 2024

What Is Lead Paint Inspection and Why Should You Conduct It?

Edited By

Megha Mulchandani

Edited By

Megha Mulchandani

Editor, Houzeo

Megha M. is an adept content editor well-versed in the intricacies of American market dynamics and economic trends. In her free time, she excels as a versatile theatre artist and public speaker.

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412,000 deaths happen in the US due to lead poisoning alone. Besides this, around 87% of homes built before 1940 contain lead-based paint, which emphasizes the need for inspection.

Lead dust typically comes from cracked lead-based paint or contaminated soil in the house. It can also come from home remodeling or unsafe paint removal. These tiny dust particles generally go unnoticed when inhaled by a person.

While recommended for homes built before 1978, the necessity for lead-based paint testing may vary depending on individual circumstances.


  • Home paints contained up to 50% lead before 1955.
  • In the 1970s, regulations restricted the permissible lead content in paint due to its severe health hazards.
  • Currently, the maximum allowable limit of lead in paints and surface coating materials is only 0.06%.

What Is Lead Paint Inspection?

Lead paint inspection is a systematic process done to determine the presence of lead paint on a property. This inspection goes beyond surface testing. It encompasses a detailed analysis which includes painted surfaces, dust, and soil.

The goal is to pinpoint lead sources and develop strategies to reduce risks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports the significance of lead-based paint inspection.

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Importance of Lead Paint Inspection for Buying an Old House

Before the federal government banned lead in 1978, household paint was prominently composed of lead. Due to its durable, moisture-resistant, quick-drying, and glossy appearance, it was highly adopted.

The ban stopped people from using lead-based paints for building houses. However, the old houses built before 1980 still had them. This implies that over 64 million homes in the US contained some amount of lead back then.

The primary reason for the lead paint ban was its significant health risks, particularly in households with children under the age of 10. Even a small amount of lead can cause irreversible damage to their mental and physical development.

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How Can You Identify Lead in Your House?

There are several ways to find out the presence of lead in your property. You can do the following:

  1. Use Lead Test Kits: Employ lead testing kits for a preliminary check.
  2. Hire a Professional Inspector: Opt for a certified inspector who follows a proper checklist for evaluation.
  3. Assess Painted Surfaces: Examine painted surfaces for chipping or peeling paint.
  4. Check Soil and Dust: Test soil and household dust for lead content.
  5. Test the Water: You must evaluate water sources for potential lead contamination.
  6. Look for Lead Hazards: You must identify common sources like lead pipes or fixtures.
  7. Monitor Renovation Activities: Be cautious during home renovations to prevent lead exposure.
  8. Review Home History: Check the construction year, especially in homes built before 1978 as a prevention measure.

Getting a professional inspection by a certified lead inspector or a home inspector is the best method for a comprehensive evaluation. These inspectors use specialized tools and methods for a thorough and accurate assessment.

» Find Inspectors Near Me: Get your home inspected now!

The Process of Lead Paint Inspection

The lead paint inspection process involves 4 basic steps:

1. Visual Assessment: Inspectors look for powdery texture around windows, doors, and walls to identify deteriorating paint and potential hazards.

2. Sampling: Special equipment like an XRF analyzer examines paint chips and dust. This sample is then sent to a lab for analysis.

3. Report Creation: Generating a comprehensive report about detailed findings, recommendations, and potential actions to address identified issues.

4. Clearance Testing: The inspectors conduct post-lead abatement to ensure the successful removal of lead hazards.

Why Should You Conduct a Lead Paint Inspection?

It’s important to understand the reasons behind lead paint inspection for homeowners, some of which are:

1. Health Protection: Lead exposure can lead to anemia, hypertension, pulmonary, and kidney-related diseases, especially in children. Lead inspection ensures a safe living environment.

2. Informed Decision-Making: Those who’ve had a lead paint inspection face fewer risks of fraud in property transactions.

3. Preservation of Property Value: Proactively addressing lead issues can help maintain your home’s value.

4. Legal Compliance: As per the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, homes with kids or undergoing renovations need to comply with several regulations mentioned in the act.

What Are Common Lead Paint Inspection Methods?

Some of the common methods of lead paint inspection are:

1. Lead Test Kits:

Home lead test kits use the formula of changing colors to detect the presence of lead. These kits are easily available at local hardware stores or online. Common types include rhodizonate and sodium sulfide.

These solutions are applied to a surface using swabs. After being rubbed onto a painted surface, they reveal whether the chemicals contain lead or not. Rhodizonate kits turn red or pink and sodium sulfide kits turn black or grey in the presence of lead.

Lead test kits are a very cost-effective and easily available solution. However, these kits may not always be reliable since their accuracy is super low. But if you still plan to use them at home, opt for EPA-recognized kits like:

2. X-Ray Fluorescence:

XRF is a lead testing method using a handheld machine, operated by a certified inspector. It uses the technology of high-energy beams to measure lead in old paint.

The energy released by each element is unique and different. An analyzer converts energy signatures into a number representing the lead amount per unit area.

XRF is the go-to method for inspecting lead on different surfaces since it offers accurate measurements quickly.

3. Paint Chip Sampling:

To check for lead, paint chip sampling removes samples from surfaces, usually at least 4 square inches. Labs analyze these samples using techniques like AAS or ICP.

The reports present the results as lead percentage by sample weight. The paint becomes lead-based if it exceeds 0.5%. It’s crucial to remove all layers of paint during sampling, particularly in older buildings with repaints.

Paint chip sampling is generally preferred as it is cost-effective and the accuracy is on point. But if you are looking for a faster solution, then this method might not be the key.

How Much Does a Lead Paint Inspection Cost?

Lead paint inspection costs typically between $250 and $700. This cost varies depending on the organization or individual you are getting your inspection done from.

However, this cost can further go up if you plan to do soil and water testing. This can add around $300 to the overall cost of lead paint testing. Considering the costs, it’s a small investment compared to potential health risks.

» Home Inspection Costs: How much does a home inspection cost in your state

Bottom Line

Amidst the alarming 412,000 deaths that take place due to lead poisoning, it’s clear that lead paint inspection is crucial when you buy a house. This is especially true in homes built before 1978 where the risk of lead-based paint is more.

Whether using DIY kits or professional assessments, these measures protect against unseen threats. With costs ranging from $250 to $700, it’s a modest investment for long-term property value.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to find lead based paint inspection near me?

You can find the top inspectors near you easily with the help of Houzeo website.

Should I waive lead based paint inspection?

A general lead inspection costs around $250 to $700. But if you plan to skip it, you might have to pay both money as well as health related damages in the future.

How can lead testing be conducted?

There are three main methods that exists for lead paint testing:
1. Lead test kits
2. X-ray fluorescence (XRF)
3. Paint chip sampling

You can opt for any one of them as per your preference and convenience.


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