If your home was constructed before January 1, 1978 and your gutters and/or downspouts do not have a factory finish paint job, beware.

A factory paint finish is a pristine smooth finish. It was applied before the gutter system was installed. Even if you have one, the federal government now requires that every time you touch more than 20 square feet (20 running feet of gutter or downspouts), you must hire a certified a Lead Paint Renovator (LRP) with several licenses.  Both individual and company licenses are required.

Some states like Iowa have additional licensing requirements.  With those 2 pieces of paper an LPR can test for lead paint on your home. Can you do the work yourself?  By federal law if you and your friends are NOT paid, it’s okay to scrape a house with lead paint or remove a gutter.  You may not pay someone unless he/she has the licenses. In Iowa (and in other states) even your friends and family are forbidden to work on a lead paint home.  Major fines can be issued.

So let’s say a LPR tests your home for the forbidden lead paint.  You agree to replace the 20+ square feet on the outside of your home.  First you should read and sign a Renovate Right book.  The lead paint test results will be codified on a six-part form. You get many copies. Work can commence OR you get the bad news, lead-safe practices must be used on your home.

These lead-safe practices are many & quite expensive.  1) 4 or 6 mill poly is required on the ground 10 feet out from every story of your home. 2) All the bushes, windows, doors, and A/C units must be polyed over. 3) Yellow warning tape is required 10′ out from the poly. And there are many more requirements.  My company does NOT do this work. We walk away. The most we will do it tell the homeowner to pull down the offending gutter material.  Only then will we be able to haul it away.  If you are in Iowa and/or a senior citizen–the non-paid work is extra burdensome.

Why all this concern about lead paint?  Children under age 6 and pregnant women are susceptible to learning disabilities from high lead paint ingestion.  The chances a gutter job would creat a significant amount of lead chips on the ground for children to eat is pretty remote. But peeling lead paint (it tastes sweet) with a vigorous scraping could be a receipe for disaster.  The EPA almost mandated an 8 foot high wall at the property line to contain potential blowing paint chips so things could get real exciting if the current adminstration is re-elected. FYI: the interior threshold is SIX square feet every time you hire a contractor. Why?  The fine is up to $35,000 for non-compliance.  In addition, currently the homeowner is NOT liable, the contractor is.  So if any child tests positive for high lead levels ANY contractor who worked on your home and did not take LPR steps is in the hot seat and potentially liable, forever.

What’s the solution?  Hire a reputable licensed LPR for your gutter work. Buy siding if you have lead paint on the exterior of your home.  Cover it up & avoid future problems.  Inside solution? None.  If the public wants to make this law work the homeowner must be made
liable. Otherwise we will continue to see dishonest and/or foreign laborers doing illegal remodeling jobs. Please be aware when testing for lead paint ALL of the layers must be tested.  On metal a sharp knife is scraped over the surface exposing all layers to testing. With current tests, 99% of LPR use a lead check test that turns the tip red to signal lead.  Ask to see the Lead Check Test if the contractor is suspect.

Why does a MasterShield gutter cover contractor care about the presence of lead paint when they are merely putting a cover on the existing gutters?  They don’t if the homeowner is lucky and the gutters do not have to be lowered. But in many instances gutters need to be moved. Why? Because MasterShield is designed to shed the debris during and after a rain. It is pitched on an angle not a flat shelf like Gutter Toper, LeafGuard, LeafFilter, etc.  In order to award MasterShield’s unique Money Back Warranty, correct installation techniques must be practiced.  There are no free lunchs, you get what you pay for.

Keep your gutters from clogging…Guaranteed! Heartland MasterShield: Servicing Lincoln, Omaha, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and surrounding communities. For more information visit www.heartlandmastershield.com.