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Preparation, Cleaning and Passing Dust Swipes

Some cleaning tips in general and especially if you have failed a dust swipe.

  1. Use a cleanser of some sort, don’t use bleach or windex. Lead dust is chemically sticky and you need a cleanser to break the chemical bond.
  2. Make sure to get the lead dust up off the floor. Most failures occur because the person cleaning just ‘moves’ the dust from one side to the other. Whatever you use to clean the floor, start at one side of the floor and ‘push’ all the dirt/dust to the other side and then pick up and walk back to the original side and start again. This ‘pushes’ all the lead dust towards one spot where you can get it up off the floor.
  3. If you use a vacuum, use a HEPA vacuum. A HEPA vacum has a special filter to filter out the lead paint dust so that the vacuum doesn’t release the dust back into the air.
  4. To guarantee the floor will pass, ensure that it is spotlessly/white glove clean. If there is no dirt/dust, there can’t be any lead paint dust.

Preparing wooden windows

When there are wooden windows in the property we are required by law to take two swipes per room, one from the floor and one from the window well. The window wells can be very challenging to get passed. Please do the following to ensure that you have the best shot at passing the first time around.

  1. The window well is NOT the same as the window sill. The sill you can reach without opening the window. To get to the window well, you will need to open the window.
  2. The window well is the area that the window closes down on top of. It is the spot where the sash hits bottom when the window closes.
  3. This areas NEEDS to be white glove/spotlessly clean. If it is not white glove clean, it will fail. It only takes 1/2 of one grain of salt of lead dust per square foot to fail.
  4. In a perfect world you would arrive at the property in the morning and prepare the wooden windows for our inspection in the afternoon.
  5. If you prepare the windows in advance, use a paper towel to cover the window well and then remove it prior to inspection.
  6. Painting the window well, if it’s already painted, is probably the best method to give you the best chance to pass the first time around.

Getting basement floors to pass

Basement floors that are unfinished concrete are very difficult to get passed. Any lead dust that has been down there for the last 50 years is probably still there (who cleans an unfinished basement floor?). There is usually so much lead dust on the floor that even if you clean it really well, it can still fail. If the swipe only fails by a little bit, then cleaning is fine. If the swipe fails by a lot, then our recommendation is to paint the basement floor. (I will give you a recommendation if I notify you that a swipe failed.) Painting the floor has three consequences, two of them good.

  1. It seals in the lead dust
  2. The paint goes into the nooks and crannies, thereby making the floor easier to clean for future inspections.
  3. If the paint starts to peel and flake, you’ll need to paint again
  4. Some clients will cover the paint with a sealer. This seems to work the best, but is also the most expensive.