Living in New England, it’s not all too uncommon to encounter a prospective home built in the 1970s or earlier. It can be exciting for some home buyers to find a home with decades of history within its walls. However, since the building codes of 50 years ago and the construction materials used differ so much from those of today, you can run into a lot of issues. Let’s take a look at a few of the common hazards in homes built in the 1970s.
Asbestos Insulation in Homes Built in the 1970s
It wasn’t until the 1980s that strict regulations and legislation were imposed upon this carcinogenic material. Nowadays, we’re aware of the ramifications of inhaling asbestos fibers – namely mesothelioma – but this hazardous material was frequently used as insulation due to its fire-resistant properties. Expert home inspectors will know the signs of asbestos, but it’s a material that often cannot be identified with the naked eye; thus, a sample must be sent to a qualified lab for testing.
Aluminum Electrical Wiring
During the late 1960s and through the 1970s, there was a shortage of copper. As such, the housing industry turned to aluminum, the next best conductor. However, many homes that were wired using aluminum began to experience electrical fires after a few years. While the aluminum wires by themselves weren’t to blame, electricians didn’t make the switch to using aluminum for receptacles or light switches. These terminals, which contained copper or other metals, cause a chemical reaction with the aluminum that corroded the wires, creating increased heat and arcing, which resulted in fires.
Walls Coated in Lead Paint
Lead wasn’t banned as a paint additive until 1978, resulting in thousands of homes being coated in this hazardous material. When in good condition, lead paint can typically be painted over. However, if the paint is chipped or peeling, your home inspector will likely inform you to hire a professional to seal the paint. Unfortunately, when simply sealed, the lead can present a problem during future renovations or remodeling, which is why it’s important to be aware of its presence.
We didn’t have the knowledge we possess today, which is why there are so many hazards in homes built in the 1970s. However, though some of these items may come up in an inspection, don’t let them deter you from a prospective home. If you entrust your home inspection to an experienced inspector – such as those of us at Homeinex – you’ll be well aware of the dangers present and the steps necessary to make the home livable. If you would like to see what issues may inhabit your future home, contact us today.