Common issues with lead-based paint; metal fasteners for pressure treated decks; carpet staining caused by air infiltration; and mud-jacking for patios and walks are addressed this month.
Q. You always hear talk of lead poisoning concerns associated with children eating chips of lead-containing paint, but are there any other ways that lead-based paint can be harmful?
While the health hazards to children from eating lead-based paint chips have been known for some time, other sources of exposure to lead in household air and dust has only recently received attention. Lead can enter the air within a home when surfaces covered with lead-based paint are scraped, sanded, or heated with an open flame in paint-stripping procedures.
Lead dust develops from the friction created by the opening and closing of double hung windows that had sash and trim covered by lead-based paints at one time, even if now painted over with a non-lead paint. Once released into the home atmosphere, lead particles circulate and can be inhaled or ingested through the mouth and nose. Lead particles also settle onto window sills, into carpet fibers, and on other surfaces. They can be recirculated in the air by normal household cleaning (such as vacuuming, sweeping and dusting) and through the normal hand-to-mouth behavior of young children, which results in the ingestion of potentially harmful amounts of lead dust.
If there is any concern about lead in your home, a lead-paint risk assessment can be performed by a licensed technician. Contact your local health department for possible leads.
Q. I have heard that the new pressure-treated lumber can corrode nails and metal fasteners in a few years. What other products can I use for a new deck I’m planning to build?
It is true that certain wood preservatives are corrosive to metal fasteners, particular since the new ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary) treated products that have been commonly used for the last 5 years, as a replacement for CCA (chromated copper arsenate) treated products. ACQ treated lumber requires specially protected metal fasteners (generally hot-dipped products). Make sure that all connectors and fasteners you use are listed for use with preservative-treated lumber. This approval should be clearly indicated either on the connectors and fasteners, or on the packaging. If the label information is not clear, contact the hardware manufacturer to find out which products are suitable for this application. Using membranes between the wood and certain type connectors may also be feasible at some points on the deck, but any fastener penetrating the wood requires the proper coating.
Q. I replaced my carpet five years ago, now the new carpet has the same type stains along the baseboard and around my front door. Any idea what might cause this problem?
This condition often occurs at the perimeter of the room and along the base of doors due to air infiltration. As air passes through the carpet at the base of doors that are not properly weatherstripped or along the baseboards where there may be gaps that lead to the outside or a basement or crawlspace, particulates in the air are filtered out and trapped in the rug. If these areas are not cleaned on a regular basis, the stain becomes quite noticeable and may be difficult to totally remove. Vacuuming or washing usually cannot remove discoloration. However, professional cleaning equipment with enzyme-based agents has been shown to be effective for heavy stains. To avoid a recurrence, investigate possible points around the perimeter of your house for gaps that would allow air infiltration and seal or weatherstrip as needed.
Q. I had a large concrete patio built in my back yard four years ago. The concrete has sunk more than an inch in some places and I can’t locate the contractor. Is there a way to fix this without tearing up the patio?
It is very possible that this can be fixed using a process called “mudjacking.” If the patio itself is in reasonably good condition, and if there is an underlying base of stable soil, this method could be considerably less expensive than tearing up the old patio and building a new one.
The process involves pumping a semi-liquid cementitious mixture (or even an expandable foam) under the sunken masonry, restoring it to the original level. Special equipment and training is required, so not all concrete contractors can handle the work. Mudjacking is also used to raise sunken sidewalks, driveways, and underpin house foundations and chimneys. You may be able to find a contractor equipped for this type repair in a yellow pages directory under masonry repairs.
More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.