Staying Informed About Lead-Based Paint

We’ve heard about the dangers of lead-based paint in older homes and office buildings, but not everyone is familiar with the appropriate procedures for dealing with it.

If you live in an older home and you are preparing to undertake some renovations, there are a number of important things to keep in mind.  For starters, people living in homes built before 1978 should obtain a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right.

The handbook summarizes the requirements of the EPA’s 2008 Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rule. It will enable you to ask the appropriate questions of any contractor or repairman.  It’s important to make certain that anyone you engage to work in an older home is certified in lead-based paint removal.

All firms that engage in home repair and renovation should ensure that their employees are trained in the use of lead-safe work practices.  “Renovation” is defined as any activity that disturbs painted surfaces.  This is not confined to just the removal of old paint, but also a broad array of repair and maintenance activities.  Window replacement, electrical work and plumbing all fall into this category if your home, apartment or any child-occupied facility was built prior to 1978.

Ask your contractor to provide you proof of his certification, as well as a lead pamphlet prior to starting any work.  If he cannot, you should not allow him to begin any renovations on your property.

You should understand, too, that in addition to the very strict guidelines put in place by the EPA, individual state or local agencies may have added additional restrictions and that may go well beyond federal requirements.  To obtain information relating to your local community, call the National Lead Information Center at 1(800)424-5323.

As always, Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with your home repair, renovation and remodeling needs.  Call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or go to to enter your zip code and find the phone number of the location that services your area.

How To Make Your Kitchen Senior-Friendly

Safety concerns and the challenges of staying in our home increase as we age.  We all value our privacy and our independence, but these shouldn’t come at the expense of our health and well-being.  Of particular importance are adjustments to our kitchens, since that’s a room in which we spend a good amount of time and engage in a variety of potentially risky tasks.

The costs of a kitchen remodel can range from small to large; the following list provides some helpful ideas of senior-friendly alterations, and how involved and expensive each is likely to be.

Slip-Resistant Flooring

Falls account for a majority of injuries sustained by seniors in all areas of the house.  Remove any mats or rugs that present a tripping or slipping hazard.  A rug in front of the sink may be keeping your floor cleaner, but it’s hardly worth the risk you face of taking a serious spill.  Likewise, flooring should have enough texture to grip your feet. Consult with the clerk at your local hardware or home repair store for suggestions on the best types of slip-resistant flooring available.

Increase Lighting

Another fact of life is that as we grow older, our eyesight becomes poorer.  In the kitchen, where a lot of tasks require using knives, gripping pans, and transferring hot items, maximum lighting is essential.  This may be achieved with something as simple as increasing bulb wattage, or with something as complex as installing motion-sensor lights, or light switches that can be operated with a simple nudge.

Allow more than Adequate Clearance Space

Kitchens are particularly prone to acquiring clutter.  Look around to see what items (step stools, chairs, pet dishes) may be impeding your movements, and determine better locations for these things to “live.”

Make Appliances and Utensils Easier to Reach

One of the common laments voiced by seniors is the difficulty of reaching into both upper and lower cabinets.  Obviously, everything can’t be kept at waist level, but the most commonly used items can be made more accessible.  Place the microwave at or just below counter height.  Consider installing pull-out shelves which allow you to retrieve items without stretching or bending.

A side-opening oven door enables you to insert and remove items without having to lean across the standard lowered door, especially when the surface is hot.

Shallower sinks make it easier to rinse dishes, fruits and vegetables.  Single-lever faucets reduce the risk of scalding with hot water.

Replace smaller knobs and handles on drawers with larger, easy-to-grip ones.

When the time comes to replace an appliance, look for newer models with larger, easy-to-read controls.

If you are contemplating making changes to your kitchen—whether to make it “senior-proof” or for any other reason—the Handyman Matters craftsmen stand ready to consult and to assist in all aspects.  To find the office nearest you, call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME, or go to and enter your zip code.