Remodeling the Older Home - Carpet Removal - EH: Minnesota Department of Health
Lead Poisoning Prevention — Remodeling the Older Home

Carpet Removal

Worried about lead in your home? If you are living in an older establishment you should be informed. Lead can be a serious danger. Through this web page, designed for property owners, renters and contractors, learn how to safely remove carpet from your home that may be contaminated with lead.

The Dangers of Lead

Lead poisoning is a concern for both children and adults. It can cause:

  • Permanent problems with health, learning, and behavior in young children
  • High blood pressure, kidney damage, and fertility problems in adults

You can be exposed to lead any time you breathe lead dust, fumes, or swallow anything that contains lead.

About 75% of homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. The older the home the more likely it is to contain lead-based paint. You should assume that any home built before 1978 contains some lead. To be sure, test your home for lead following the advice found on the MDH web page, Lead Paint Testing.

Carpeting can be contaminated with lead during remodeling or repair work. Lead paint chips, dust, and soil can be tracked into the home and get into the carpet. This can then be a risk for both child and adult.

You can protect yourself and your family from lead by following the appropriate remodeling safety procedures.

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Before You Begin

Family members can easily be exposed to lead dust if the room is not properly prepared and sealed. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and prepared remodeling experience:

  1. Remove everything from the work area, including furniture, so these items do not get covered with lead dust.
  2. Any items, such as bookcases or large furniture, that can't be taken out of the room should be covered with one-mil (.001 inch) polyethylene (poly) plastic sheeting and sealed. You can find one-mil poly at most hardware stores.
  3. Turn off all the heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems in the home. If the work is being conducted in the winter, use caution when turning off the heating, so the water pipes do not freeze.
  4. Close, cover and seal the registers to prevent lead dust from settling in the ducts.
  5. Turn off window unit air conditioners and fans in the work area.
  6. Cover and seal the window unit air conditioners with one-mil poly. Remember to uncover the window units when the job is completed.
  7. Close, cover and seal any unused doorways in the work area with a layer of one-mil poly.
  8. Cover the doorways you will be using by hanging a layer of one-mil poly over the doorframe. Seal this poly to the doorway with duct tape. Then use a utility knife to cut a six foot vertical slit in the middle of the poly to provide access to the work area.
  9. Attach a second piece of poly to the doorway with duct tape to act as a flap. This will limit the airflow between the work area and the rest of the house.
  10. Use poly to cover the floors, hallways, and rooms you will be passing through when you carry the carpet out of the home. Use traction guards when placing poly on stairs.

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Removing Carpet

  1. Mist the carpet with water from a spray bottle. Do not soak the carpet, but make sure the carpet backing and padding are damp enough to keep the dust down.
  2. Cut the carpet into four foot by four-foot sections. It will make the job easier if you cut the carpet into pieces that are easy to work with.
  3. Pull the carpet loose from the floor very slowly, so you do not spread lead dust.
  4. Wrap and seal the pieces of carpet in six-mil poly to prepare for disposal.

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Once the carpet is removed, follow the cleaning procedures in the MDH web page, Lead Waste Clean-Up and Disposal.

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How do I get more information?

For more information about lead please contact the Lead Program at the Minnesota Department of Health. We can be reached by calling
(651) 201-4620 or visiting our website. See: Lead.

Lead is a risk for both you and your family. Be informed. Be safe.

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Updated Sunday, June 03, 2018 at 12:44PM