I live in a century home, which I both love and hate. The love: the history here is amazing. You can see the decades in the house and the character truly shines through in simple details like original the woodwork and doors. This house is sturdy, built with plaster walls and oak floors.

The hate: constant upgrades. Century homes require a lot of work. We’ve finally got our house into an updated state, but it took blood, sweat and tears. On top of that, there are a lot of unknowns that you wouldn’t have with a newer home. So my big fear this past year has been the unknown: toxins, hiding in plain sight. I wanted to be sure my home was safe for my one year old son, so I decided to take some precautions.

Water Lead Testing

Because of Flint, Michigan’s tragic led poisoning, we’re all a bit more aware of how systems can fail. Our government doesn’t always take the necessary actions and precautions, and unfortunately many of us are oblivious to the harms that can be hiding in our homes. Water, a basic necessity to life, can poison you when filled with harmful particles like lead. Because we live in a century home, I was worried about old plumbing and piping. Testing for lead made me nervous. If the results were positive, that meant  spending thousands of dollars to fix the problem.

I purchased this watersafe lead test, which runs between $10-$15. WaterSafe Water Test Kit for Lead

The kit was simple. The instructions were clear and after prep and testing, I knew the results within 12 minutes of opening my kit. Thankfully, there was no lead in our water.

Lead Paint Testing

My home is three stories + a basement. Each room has been painted many times over, quite certainly. The top coat paint in each room is lead free, since most of the rooms in our home have been painted since we moved in. However, places that have chipped away needed testing, as did our basement, where the paint is obviously older.

The kit I ordered is around $12 and comes with two swabs.
LeadCheck LC-2SDC Disposable Non-Staining Lead Detection Swabs, 2 Per Pack

I was a little frustrated by the options for lead paint testing. Most kits only come with two swabs and I wanted to test around 20 surfaces in my home. To actually buy enough swabs to test 20 surfaces, it would have cost me way more than I wanted to spend. So I took the advice of many others that have done these tests: when I broke the tube, I swabbed Q Tips inside and then rubbed the them onto the surfaces I was testing. It worked wonderfully and I tested a ton of surfaces. Surfaces with lead make the Q Tip turn pink. Otherwise, the Q Tip stays yellow. The yellow liquid does show on your walls/surfaces, but wipes off easily. Results show within about 30 seconds. You do have to scrape away paint to get to the layers of paint you want to test. Thankfully, I tested areas that were already chipped.

Radon Testinghow_radon_enters.jpg

You may have had this test done when you moved into your home. We did not. We were young, naive, and didn’t understand the importance of a Radon test. Radon is fairly common in the area of Ohio that we live in. It has been shown to be exceptionally harmful to a person’s health and as such, we wanted to be sure we knew what we were dealing with in our own home. If Radon is detected, a system can be placed into your home to remove the gas. This test is a bit more difficult and precise.

A radon test kit is around $12.
First Alert RD1 Radon Gas Test Kit

Unfortunately, this test doesn’t give instant results and must be sent in. The directions are very specific, so make sure you follow them. After you mail your kit in, you are able to check the status online by using a tracking number that they give you.

These tests should be done in any home, but even more so when you have children. I know that I cannot control every environmental factor, toxin or carcinogen that will come in contact with my child, but I can try to control what I’m aware of. 

We are thrilled that we were able to do all of these tests on our own for under $50. It was definitely $50 well spent for peace of mind.

– Katie