March 24, 2010
On April 22, 2010 the US EPA’s law on “Renovation, Repair and Painting” (RRP) will go into effect. This new law will affect you, if:
- You live in a home that was built prior to 1978.
- Your children (age 6 or younger) attend a facility that was built prior to 1978.
Why 1978? Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes and buildings until it was banned for residential use in 1978. Once ingested, lead, like other heavy elements, has a way of hanging around in our bodies – this can cause biological disturbances. In large doses, it can lead to toxicity – affecting our brains and nervous systems. Children, in their developing stages, are the most susceptible to lead toxicity.
Lead in paint that is adhered to an object does not propose a danger – it does not out-gas or radiate. If you live in a home that contains lead paint, you do not necessarily need to have a costly abatement team remove all paint from your home. Disrupting lead paint is where the EPA’s concern is.
Lead gets into our bodies via nose and mouth. Paint chips and dust particles are the biggest culprits to ingesting lead paint. If you are renovating an older building, paint disruption is due to occur.
The EPA is requiring by federal law that all contractors who work in buildings built before 1978 and disrupt more than 6 square feet of interior paint or 20 square feet of exterior paint to be Certified. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Window and Door Contractors
- General Contractors
- Landlords and Property Managers
- Some Building Engineers
Your contractor should provide for you, before the renovation begins, a copy of the EPA’s Renovate Right pamphlet. You will also need to sign documentation for your contractor’s files saying that you received the pamphlet. This documentation also outlines options available if you would like to opt out of the RRP procedures.
Certified professionals have been through training in how to properly handle spaces where lead paint may be present. Containment of lead paint chips and dust are a primary concern. These procedures are time-consuming and require additional job materials. You can expect your renovator to line item this procedure for your home project (this small cost may vary depending on the space, project and your geographical location). The added time and cost to your contract is worth the sense of mind in knowing that your health and wellbeing is being protected. The federal government is currently experiencing a backlog as US contractors rush to get their certification. If your contractor cannot produce a RRP Certification, ask to see proof of their RRP training.
Property owners who opt to DIY are excluded from this new law. However, it highly recommended that homeowners take steps to keep themselves safe with these best practices.
- Tape off with plastic the area you are working in.
- Limit leaving the work area to go to other areas of the home.
- Do not eat in the work area.
- Keep children and animal out of the area until it has been throughly cleaned.
- If you have them, use power tools that are connected to a vacuum system.
- Do not sand lead-based paint. If you must sand an area, wear a face mask. When done, mist the area with a spray bottle of water to bring the dust out of the air.
- When cleaning up the area, mist down all drop cloths. Fold drop clothes edges in first to keep dust and particles from escaping.
- Clean the area with a HEPA vacuum. Remove the vacuum bag from the vacuum outside of the building and tape shut.
- Promptly remove clothing and wash before walking through your home or coming in contact with other family members.
If you are not planning a major renovation, but you have paint flaking in your home, a fresh coat of paint will keep more paint from coming off. And of course… teach your children to NEVER EAT PAINT FLAKES OR CHEW ON PAINTED SURFACES (this includes furniture and window sills).
If you have further questions about this new law, you can add your comment below or visit www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.
Written by Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD for Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc. Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc. is proud to have completed their RRP required training. As of March 18, 2010, Imperial is in compliance with the US EPA’s RRP rule and IDPH. Pending official notice from the EPA, the company will be a RRP Lead Certified Renovator in the Chicago area.
August 19, 2009
Natural light in our home is usually something we desire. In fact, it is a major selling point in real estate. However, having a window in the shower area is not so favorable and can be down right annoying.
It’s not unusual to walk into a older home and find that the tub/shower has two shower curtains – one to keep waterout of the room and one to cover the ackwardly placed window. There are better ways to address this common problem.
Bathrooms need ventilation and before vent fans were an option, there were operable windows. Older homes often used the same windows in the bath area as they used in the rest of the home. This poses two problems, lack of privacy and wood rot from excessive moisture.
The quick and cheep way to tackle lack of privacy is to buy contact sheets for glass. This material will adhere to glass and create a semi-opaque appearance. It comes in a number of different textures like frosted and rain; it is available at many hardware stores and can be found online and in specialty catalogues.
The more expensive option is replace the window. New vinyl windows can be fitted with textured glass. New windows will also cut down on drafts and heat loss.
Vinyl windows are the best replacement window for the shower area. Metal windows can rust, while wood windows rot. Once you have decided to replace a window, the next step is to determine the window moulding.
Windows don’t need to be outfitted with moulding. Tile or other shower wall material can be brought up right to the window frame. But in many older homes, sometimes we want to maintain the original look to the home. A solid surface material, like Corian, can be custom fabricated to look like the original trim to the house. This works exceptionally well when the trim in the house is painted white (wood grains and stain finishes are impossible to match). The new moulding is easy to care for and is impervious to water, so mold and rot are no longer an issue.
Now is the time to replace your bathroom window if you find that ice damns build up inside the window during the winter months.
August 4, 2009
Do you ever feel that you just can’t seem to get enough hot water out of your hot water tank? Are you ever stuck with a cold shower in the morning? Or do you have a luxury shower with body sprays and you find your luxury only lasts for about 5 minutes? Are you thinking that a larger hot water tank is the only answer?
Tankless hot water heaters have been very popular in Asia and Europe for many years and they are finally catching on in America. The idea is that you only heat the water that you use as you are using it and with that theory you could have an endless supply of hot water. Never run out of hot water again.
The number of fixtures/appliances that can operate on a tankless hot water heater varies from region to region. In warmer climates, the cold water coming into a home isn’t as cold as it is in cold climates. The colder the water, the more work the tankless has to do within the same period of time… the outcome, the hot water available to meet the demand is at a lower temperature. This means, provided they have the same tankless brand and model, a home in Florida may be able to heat 5 showers at once, while a home in Illinois may only be able to heat 2.5 showers.
Tankless hot water heaters are fueled by electric or gas. Units that feed hot water to the whole house are typically gas. If you are considering a tankless, be aware that depending on your average gas consumption during the coldest time if the year, you may need to increase the size of your gas meter. Not everyone needs a tankless. And you won’t necessarily save money with a tankless, though you may be able to take advantage of an energy tax credit (talk to your accountant). The main reason to go tankless is to achieve comfort, if your current tank heater isn’t working for your household.
If you decide that tankless is right for you, use a certified installer to ensure that the unit is installed correctly to keep your warrantee valid.
Written by Imperial Kitchens and Baths Designer, Stephanie Bullwinkel (CBD). Previously published in Imperial Kitchens and Baths Newsletter Issue 1.
July 9, 2009
“Indoor air is on average seven to ten times more polluted than outdoor air.” ~United States EPA
We try to contain indoor air as much as possible. We pay to heat it and cool it, why would we want it leaking outside. Newer homes, of course, are tighter than older homes.
But by limiting fresh air to enter our homes, we are in fact creating a pollution problem.
Indoor air pollution comes from a variety of places: radon from the ground leaching into our basements, formaldehyde out-gassing from furniture and carpet, particulates from the breaking down of biological matter, and gasses from household cleaners and chemicals—not to mention odors and moisture that encourages mold and mildew growth. When we limit the passage of air between the indoors and outdoors we are harboring these contaminants.
Vents in the kitchen and bath are excellent at expelling odors and moisture to the outdoors. When running, they are also removing indoor pollutants. This exchange of air is very healthy for your home and for you.
When air in your home exits through a vent, replacement air needs to be available to make up what is lost. This make-up air can come from an open window, leaky doors, down-drafting of a chimney or a recovery system specifically put in place to exchange household air. If your home is well sealed, you may find the operation of your vent fan disappointing. If replacement air is not available, a vent fan will starve for air. Not only will it not perform well, but it may prematurely age the motor.
A vent will also under perform if it is not clean. We recommend vacuuming your bathroom vent fan when cleaning. In the kitchen, clean or replace your grease filters often. These filters are in place to keep grease from building up in the ducts in your walls.
Determining what size vent you need for your application can be a complex calculation that takes into account not only the size of the room but also the length of the ductwork for your vent. Vents are sized by “cfm” (cubic feet per minute). For example, this simply means if you purchase a 100 cfm bathroom vent fan, this fan will replace 100 cubic feet of air per minute.
There is a caveat however, and this lies in your walls or your ceiling. The material, length and twists and turns that your vent ductwork takes as it sends the expelled air to the outside will have an effect on the efficiency of your vent motor. If the complete venting system is not accounted for correctly, you could find your 100 cfm vent fan only pulling 40 to 60 cfm – and if you don’t have adequate makeup air to replace what is being expelled that number gets even lower.
The manufacturer’s website and paperwork that comes with your vent fan should help you with your calculations to insure a proper installation. There are other independant websites that offer the formulas as well. If in doubt, hire a professional to assess the size of the room and what it will take to properly get the air to the outside.
The other important factor when buying a vent fan is “sones.” Sones rate how loud a fan is, the lower the sone – the quieter. However, lower sones also usually equate to a higher price tag. It may be worth the extra money however if you will be running the fan often or if you have sensitive hearing.
Fresh air in your home not only smells better, but is healthier for you too. We all have experienced dank air from time to time, but if you are experiencing chronic issues with dank, musty or smelly air for which you cannot pinpoint a source, it may be a sign of a larger problem and an appointment should be made with a remodeling specialist.
Selections from this article will appear in Imperial Kitchens and Baths next newsletter mailing.
Written By Imperial Kitchens and Baths Designer, Stephanie Bullwinkel (CBD).