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We are accredited by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to perform Risk Reduction lead paint inspections. The Maryland Lead Risk Reduction in Housing Law requires lead paint inspections for rental units in structures built prior to 1978 and certain other situations. The MDE Lead Registration page and the MDE Landlord Standard of Care Document (PDF) have additional information about these requirements.
To view the history/status of lead inspections at a specific property, visit the Maryland Department of the Environment Lead Certification and Accreditation (LRCA) site.
Full Risk Reduction Inspections
Follow these steps to have your lead paint inspection go as smoothly as possible (and to avoid a return trip with additional fees). Use our Book Now page when you are ready to set up an appointment. Lead inspections must be booked at least 24 hours in advance – we can usually fit you on the schedule within 2-3 days.
Note: All lead paint inspectors are required by law to notify MDE at least 24 hours prior to an inspection appointment – they may show up at the property to audit the inspection.
1. Obtain a Landlord Tracking Number
As part of this process, you will need to obtain a 7-digit landlord tracking number if you don’t already have one. This number is unique to the property owner and is not the same as a City/County registration number. We need this number before we can schedule your appointment.
To obtain a new Tracking Number or to find the Tracking Number already assigned to you, call MDE at 410-537-4199, email email@example.com, or visit the MDE Lead Rental Registry Property Search.
2. Visual Inspection of the Property’s Exterior
The first part of the lead paint inspection is a visual inspection of the entire exterior including walls, windows, doors, door frames, trim, soffit, fascia, gutters, downspouts, porches, posts, columns, ceilings, railings, and steps on both the main structure and any outbuildings accessible to tenants. This includes the top front cornice on Baltimore City row homes which is often in poor condition. There can be no deteriorated paint conditions (peeling, chipping, cracking, etc.) regardless of the age or type of paint in order for the inspection to proceed to the interior portion.
The following pictures are examples of conditions that will FAIL the exterior visual inspection and require correction before a re-inspection is performed (at an additional cost).
3. Visual Inspection of the Property’s Interior
If the exterior passes the visual inspection, we will then perform a visual inspection of the entire interior of the home including baseboards, doors, door frames, walls, ceilings, enclosed porches, window jambs / frames / sills / wells / sashes, cabinets, and radiators. Areas inspected include basements and any other spaces that are accessible by tenants. All doors must be unlocked and all windows that are intended to open must be functional. There can be no deteriorated paint conditions (peeling, chipping, cracking, etc.) regardless of the age or type of paint in order for the inspection to proceed to dust wipe sampling. All work areas, construction debris, and loose paint chips/dust should also be cleaned up.
The following pictures are examples of conditions that will FAIL the interior visual inspection and require correction before a re-inspection is performed (at an additional cost).
4. Dust Wipe Sampling
The last part of the inspection is dust wipe sampling. If newer windows are present, only one sample per room is required. In houses with old wooden windows, two dust samples are taken per room. The MDE definition of a room includes bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways, kitchens, basements, etc. Samples may be taken from window sills, window wells, and/or floors at our discretion. Even in rooms with no windows, a floor area will be sampled. It is very important to make sure the house is properly cleaned prior to this portion of the inspection (see below). MDE lowered their lead dust maximum allowable levels on July 1st, 2020 making it harder to pass the dust sampling portion of these inspections than in previous years.
- General Cleaning Tips: Lead dust needs a detergent cleaner (like Spic N’ Span, Simply Green, or 409) or a specialized lead dust cleaner to break the bond with surfaces. Bleach or glass cleaners will not work and should not be used. All cleaning and painting should be completed at least one hour prior to the inspection. Once cleaning has been performed, there should be no human or animal traffic before or during the inspection. Occupied homes should be vacated between the cleaning and inspection.
- Cleaning Bare Floors: Should be cleaned using a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum (a household vacuum will not work) followed by mopping with a new mop head and a mild detergent with clean water for each room. Unfinished concrete floors in basements are very difficult to clean and a frequent cause of failure. The best course of action is usually to clean then paint these floors with a garage-type epoxy paint that will seal in any old dust and provide a smooth easy-to-clean surface. All floors should be “white glove” clean.
- Cleaning Carpet: Should be cleaned using a HEPA vacuum (a household vacuum will not work) in one direction and then again in the perpendicular direction.
- Cleaning Windows: Window wells and window sills should be cleaned with a HEPA vacuum (a household vacuum will not work) then with paper towels and a mild detergent solution as described above. The window well is the area where the bottom of the sash hits when the window closes and is a very difficult area to obtain a “pass”. When wiping, do so in one direction (not back and forth). This window well area needs to be “white glove” clean. In addition to cleaning, it may be necessary to paint or encapsulate this area to ensure a smooth cleanable surface. To put it in perspective, lead dust the equivalent of approximately one grain of salt will fail a dust inspection of a window well. If you are on the fence about window replacement, this is a good reason to get rid of old wooden windows!
The Full Risk reduction certificate that is issued will expire at tenant turnover. A new inspection must take place prior to the new tenants moving into the property.
At this time we do not offer lead-free inspections due to low demand and the fact that most properties in the areas we serve would fail this type of lead paint inspection. These inspections are done using an XRF gun to analyze all layers of paint on every surface inside and outside of the home. Unless a house built prior to 1978 has been completely remodeled down to the studs, there is a high likelihood of failure. If lead is found, those surfaces will have to be removed or encapsulated by a MDE lead accredited contractor and the house will need to be re-tested. Alternatively, the owner may face the additional cost of a Full Risk Reduction Lead Paint Inspection as well if passing the lead-free inspection will not be possible. This failed test may also need to be disclosed upon selling the property.
Limited Lead-Free Inspections
For landlords who have previously obtained a limited lead-free certificate (the interior is lead-free but the exterior is not), we are accredited and able to perform the required visual inspection of the exterior paint every two years to renew that certificate.
$275 is an approximate cost for a full risk reduction inspection of most small single-family houses or row homes with vinyl windows and up to 9 rooms. This includes the interior and exterior lead paint visual inspection, 10 dust samples including all associated lab fees and a control sample (field blank), overnight shipping to the lab, and an MDE Risk Reduction Certificate sent by email when lab results come back. Total costs vary based on the size of the property and types of windows (see details above).
Onsite time for most lead inspections is 30-40 minutes. Turnaround time for lab analysis is about 5 business days from the day of sampling. Rush lab processing including next-day and same-day service is available for an additional fee ($5 per sample to speed up the lab processing by 2 days).
Discounts for repeat customers, multiple units, re-inspections, or when combined with a rental inspection.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a Lead Paint Inspection Certificate?
It takes about 5 business days from the lead paint inspection for the laboratory results to come back for the dust samples taken. Rush processing is available for a fee.
If a room fails a dust swipe test, does the whole house need to be re-tested?
No, only the room with a failed result needs to be properly cleaned and re-tested (additional fees apply).
This information on this page changes on occasion. Please confirm any questions or concerns with the Maryland Department of the Environment.