Lead Paint Inspections

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We are accredited by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to perform Risk Reduction lead paint inspections and can walk you though the process. The Maryland Lead Risk Reduction in Housing Law requires lead paint inspections for certain situations including rental units constructed prior to 1978. Please read the MDE Lead Registration page and the MDE Landlord “Standard of Care” Document (PDF) for additional information.

Full Risk Reduction Inspections

Note: MDE has lowered their lead dust maximum levels effective July 1st, 2020. Click here to read more on our blog post.

Please read and follow the steps below to have your lead paint inspection go as smoothly as possible and to avoid additional fees for re-testing. Use our Book Now page when you are ready to set up an appointment. We can usually fit you on the schedule within a few days.

Note: All lead paint inspectors are required by law to notify MDE at least 24 hours prior to an inspection – they may show up at the property at the appointment time to audit the inspection.

1. Tracking Number
As part of this process, you will need to obtain a tracking number if you don’t already have one. This number is unique to the property owner. To obtain a new Tracking Number or to find the Tracking Number already assigned, call MDE at 410-537-4199 (note: email may be faster), email mde.leadreg@maryland.gov, or visit the MDE Lead Rental Registry Property Search. We will need this number by the time the lab results come back to generate and issue your Certificate.

2. Visual Inspection – 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 – 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 able to be opened. 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.

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 still be tested. It is very important to make sure the house is properly cleaned prior to this portion of the inspection (see below).

  • 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 should not be used. Any cleaning and painting should be completed at least one hour prior to the inspection. Once cleaning has been performed, it is recommended that all human and animal traffic be restricted before and during the inspection.
  • Cleaning Bare Floors: Should be cleaned using a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum (a household vacuum will not do) 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 in one direction and then again in the perpendicular direction.
  • Cleaning Windows: Window wells and window sills should be cleaned with a HEPA vacuum 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.

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.

Lead-Free Inspections

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 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 and the house will need to be re-tested. Alternatively, the owner may face the additional cost of a Full Risk Reduction Inspection as well if passing the lead-free inspection will not be possible.


$250 for most small single-family houses or row homes with vinyl windows. This includes the interior and exterior lead paint visual inspection, 10 dust samples including all associated lab fees and a control sample (field blank), next-day shipping to the lab, and a Risk Reduction Certificate sent by email the same day that results come back. Hard copies of the certificates are also sent to MDE and the landlord by US Mail.

$15 for each additional dust wipe sample. Total costs vary based on the size of the property and types of windows (see details above).

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.

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 re-tested?
No, only the room that fails needs to be properly cleaned and re-tested for an additional fee.

This information on this page changes on occasion. Please confirm with the Maryland Department of the Environment.