Problem solving tips for tradies

Sometimes you turn up to a job and it's not as straight forward as you would have hoped. Whether moss and mould prevent you from performing the work or asbestos is getting in the way of your paint job, there are many problems that can arise. Luckily, there are also ways to work around them.

Asbestos

Asbestos can be hazardous to the health of anyone working near it, as it can cause lung cancer and other illnesses. Unfortunately, there is no spot check that can be undertaken to check for asbestos, and symptoms from exposure may not present themselves until up to 20 years after coming into contact with asbestos.

Up until the mid-1980s asbestos was used in a variety of materials, including roof tiles, wall claddings, roof membranes and decorative ceilings.

If you're doing maintenance on buildings where you're concerned about the presence of asbestos, ask questions about the age of the structure. If it was built or renovated during the time asbestos was used, preparation must be done in line with the Occupational Safety and Health guidelines.

It's a good idea to consult a professional experienced in asbestos identification and removals before commencing work on sites where the product is present.

Removing and disposing of asbestos sometimes requires special permission and the involvement of a licensed removal company. Contact your local council before getting rid of any material.

There are currently two specialist laboratories in New Zealand that offer asbestos identification services from a sample.

Moss and mould

Dirty-looking patches on painted surfaces are often mould, which can't always be visually distinguished from dirt. Usually it is black in colour, but some are brown and green. One way to check whether the substance is dirt or mould is to wet the surface and rub it, as mould will turn into slime.

Mould can destroy a paint's appearance and shorten its lifespan. If left untreated, it can even penetrate the body of the existing paint and continue to grow through subsequent paint coats.

To remove moss and mould from walls, treat them with Resene Moss & Mould Killer, diluted with clean water. You'll know the mould is dead when it completely loses colour. When this occurs, wash the area with clean water. Once the wall is dry, prepare the walls as normal and repaint if desired.

Rotten wood

When timber starts to rot, the area in question can infect other wood nearby. To eliminate this problem, cut out 45cm on either side of the rotten area and burn it. Then use Resene Moss & Mould Killer to treat the surrounding wood at a dilution of 20 per cent solution and 80 per cent water.

Scrub the whole surface with Resene Timber and Deck Wash to clean, then coat with Resene TimberLock.

Removing lead-based paint

Areas coated with lead-based paint can be hazardous to both tradespeople doing the removal and anyone who lives nearby. Lead poisoning, if left untreated, can be incredibly dangerous to your health and also to the environment.

Modern paints are lead-free, unless they are special purpose paints which are clearly labelled as containing lead. However, until 1965 many New Zealand paints had high lead levels, so some buildings may still be coated in the product.

You can't tell if a paint contains lead simply by looking at it, but if a building is over 25 years old it's safest to assume it has been treated with lead-based paint. Resene ColorShops sell lead test kits that you can use to check old paint systems.

See the Resene Putting your safety first brochure for more on dealing with lead based paints.

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