April 4, 2012

Ants and Insulation

Lead Varnish

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about ants and insulation, or more broadly, about how to make the right choices around home ownership.

When you buy an old home, chances are good that it is going to come with some nasty materials like lead paint or asbestos. The photo above is the lead varnish on our front door. These were materials that used to be considered top grade, the best choices for the safety and longevity of your home. Now they are a health hazard that can cause all sorts of problems, not to mention extra expense for removal and extra stress about having this stuff in your home.

As we make improvements to our house, I can’t help but wonder how safe these new materials will be in 10 or 50 years. For instance, we’ve been using this new low VOC interior paint. Who knows what’s in there and whether it is really “safe”. We’ve also been talking about adding a lot of insulation to our home. It seems difficult to make informed choices or to know exactly what is included in the materials we are adding to our house. Home building materials fits into the ideology of do it now, consider the consequences later.

Another area of the home that is seems ripe with delayed consequences is pest control. I’ve long avoided using any kind of chemical or pest control service on my home. It just doesn’t seem smart. However, we’ve been invaded with a steady stream of huge black ants. They are the classic ant model and scurry all over our first floor. After much research and hand-wringing, I hired a service to spray the outside of our foundation, to create a chemical barrier. Immediately afterwards I started feeling guilty about all the good critters that live right outside our home like birds, snakes and rabbits. Who am I to be spraying poison around?

I know that if I take these concerns too far I’m going to end up living in a yurt, damp, cold and covered in bugs. So before I go that far, I guess I will make the modern chemical choices and hope the consequences are small.

1 Comment

  1. this made me laugh. tough choices! but hopefully your ant problem will improve.

    Comment by Arielle — April 5, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

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