How to Make Your Home Lead-Safe
Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have lead-based paint. If you think your home has lead-based paint:
- Check your home
- Maintain your home’s condition
- Learn about lead-safe certified firms before you renovate
- Learn if you have lead in your drinking water
For more information on protecting your family from lead, visit:
Check Your Home
If your home was built before 1978 and you suspect it contains lead-based paint, have your home tested for lead and learn about potential lead hazards. There are a few options available to test your home for lead-based paint:
- A lead-based paint inspection — Tells you if your home has lead-based paint and where it is located. It will not tell you whether your home currently has lead hazards or how to deal with it. This is most helpful when buying a home or signing a lease, before renovating.
- A lead-based paint risk assessment — Tells you if your home currently has any lead hazards from lead in paint, dust or soil and what actions to take to address these hazards. This is most helpful if your home is known or suspected to contain lead-based paint.
- A combination inspection and risk assessment – Tells you if your home has any lead-based paint and if your home has any lead hazards, and where both are located.
For either option, you should hire a certified lead professional to test your home for lead and to do any needed work. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably and effectively.
- Locate a trained professional in your area who can evaluate and test your home for lead.
- Learn if you have lead in your drinking water.
View and print a checklist that will help you determine if your family is at risk for lead poisoning (PDF).
Maintain Your Home’s Condition
It is very important to properly care for the lead-painted surfaces in your home. Lead-based paint in good condition is usually not harmful. If your home was built before 1978:
- Regularly check your home for chipping, peeling, or deteriorating paint. Fix small areas (under six square feet) of damaged paint as soon as possible without excessive sanding. If you must sand, sand the minimum area needed, wetting the area first, and clean up thoroughly.
- Regularly check all painted areas that rub together or get lots of wear, like windows, doors and stairways, for any signs of deterioration.
- Regularly check for paint chips or dust – if you see some, remove carefully with a damp paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface with a clean wet paper towel.
- Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, at least weekly with a damp cloth or paper towel.
- Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust.
Here are more tips to help you reduce or prevent your family’s exposure to lead dust. It’s best to follow these steps weekly.
Cleaning Uncarpeted Floors
Damp mop with a standard sponge or string type mop and an all-purpose cleaner.
- Clean with a standard vacuum cleaner if no visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present.
- Mop with a scrubber strip attached.
- Power buff or use polishing machines or vacuums with beater bars that may wear away the painted surface.
Cleaning Carpets and Rugs
- Wet scrub or use steam cleaning methods to remove stains.
- Clean with a standard vacuum cleaner if no visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present. Use only vacuums with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters if visible dust or debris from chipping or flaking paint is present.
- Dry sweep the surface dust and debris.
- Shake or beat carpets and rugs.
Cleaning or Dusting Walls and other Painted Surfaces
- Clean with a soft, disposable cloth dampened with an all-purpose cleaner.
- Use steel wool, scouring pads and abrasive cleaners.
- Apply solvent cleaners that may dissolve paint.
- Excessively rub spots to remove them.
Learn About Lead-Safe Certified Renovation Firms Before You Renovate
Renovation, repair and painting jobs in pre-1978 homes and buildings can create significant amounts of lead-based paint dust. If your contractor will disturb lead-based paint while renovating, repairing or painting your home, he or she must be trained in lead-safe work practices.
- Find a lead-safe certified renovation firm in your area.
- Read EPA's fact sheet on using a lead-safe certified contractor (PDF) .
- If you are a do-it yourselfer, then learn how to protect yourself and your family from exposure to lead-based paint.
- If you are a renter, then learn the procedures put in place to protect your family.
Learn If You Have Lead in Your Drinking Water
EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual water quality report called a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) for their customers by July 1 of each year. Contact your water utility to request a copy of its latest report. If your water comes from a household well or other private water supply, then check with your health department, or with any nearby water utilities that use ground water, for information on contaminants of concern in your area.
- Find your local Consumer Confidence Report.
- Learn more about protecting water quality from private drinking water wells.
- Read the Is There Lead in My Drinking Water? fact sheet
The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets and fixtures. Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes built before 1986. Since you cannot see, taste or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way of telling whether there are harmful quantities of lead in your drinking water. A list of certified laboratories is available from your state or local drinking water authority. Testing typically costs between $20 and $100. Contact your water supplier as it may have useful information, including whether the service connector used in your home or area is made of lead.
- View and print a fact sheet on testing your home's drinking water.
- Learn more on our Lead in Drinking Water web page.
Reduce Your Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water at Home
- Use cold water. Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Boiling water does not remove lead from water.
- Clean your aerator. Regularly clean your faucet screen (also known as an aerator). Sediment, debris and lead particles can collect in your aerator. If lead particles are caught in the aerator, lead can get into your water.
- Use your filter properly. If you use a filter, make sure you use a filter certified to remove lead. Read the directions to learn how to properly install and use your cartridge and when to replace it. Using the cartridge after it has expired can make it less effective at removing lead. Do not run hot water through the filter.
- Run your water. Before drinking, flush your pipes by running your tap, taking a shower, or doing laundry or a load of dishes. The amount of time to run the water will depend on whether your home has a lead service line or not, and the length of the lead service line. Residents should contact their water utility for recommendations about flushing times in their community.
- Have your water tested. Contact your water utility to have your water tested and to learn more about the lead levels in your drinking water.
Learn more by reviewing EPA's Lead in Drinking Water Infographic.