Indoor plumbing and leaded water

Water is in the news again. Lead water pipes need to be replaced and that is expensive. The federal infrastructure bill includes some 200 billion dollars for replacing lead pipes.

Some of that money will come to Minnesota. The St. Paul Regional Board of Water Commissioners voted to develop a plan to replace all the lead water pipes in 10 years. Those pipes would be replaced by copper or polyethylene lines.

Most of the lead service lines in St. Paul were installed in homes built before 1927, and a large percentage of St. Paul houses were built before 1927. It costs about $6000 to replace the water line into a house and it will take decades to get the lead out of St. Paul.

The drinking water in your home can contain lead if there is lead in the plumbing and or the water line going from the street into your home is made of lead.

If you own a home in St. Paul you can use the account number on your water bill to look up your waterline and see if it is made from lead or copper.

Find more information on the City of St. Paul household water page Also, read about having a lead water line replaced.

screenshot from of water line look-up result

Lead waterlines are most common for houses built before 1926 which is most of my neighborhood including my own home but the waterline was upgraded in the late 1980’s

Today is a holiday

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day 2022, which is a federal holiday. Banks and the post office and government offices will be closed.  Public schools are closed today too. Look or virtual events and celebrations because yes there is still a raging pandemic and for most of us no hope of being vaccinated any time soon.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr 1963

I’ll add to what the reverend said to include women.

Minnesota and the Twin Cities are home to some of the worst racial disparities in the country. In metrics across the board—household income, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment—the wealth gap between white people and people of color is significantly larger in Minnesota than it is most everywhere else. There is also a large gap in homeownership between people who are white and people of color.

Homeowners have a significantly higher net worth than renters have which is one of the reasons for the large wealth gap. Our neighborhoods in St. Paul and in most cities are still segregated.

The Twin Cities is also where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by police last May setting off protests around the country. It is clear that we have a lot of work to do. It doesn’t feel like we are making progress when it comes to equality and liberty for all.

Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking at the University of Minnesota
Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking at the University of Minnesota –

Photograph from the Minnesota Historical Society collection

Working from home with a twist

Some full-time Realtors actually have full-time jobs. There are no set hours in real estate. Clients often ask real estate agents if work in real estate full time but they never ask agents if they have another full-time job.

There have been times over the years when I have taken in additional work. During the housing market crash and great recession, I had some part-time gigs with a couple of companies on the west coast.

Working with home buyers means having to be available all the time because houses just don’t stay on the market very long these days. Working on the listing side is a little more flexible and in this market, the sellers really are calling the shots. Real estate agents have to be available to answer questions about the house and keep an eye on showings and feedback.

As long as two jobs can be worked one at a time instead of at the same time it can work. Working full-time at two jobs while caring for children might be more of a stretch.

River in winter
frozen Mississippi river

Forgotten pandemic safety rules

The pandemic isn’t over. We are all tired of it. Wearing masks indoors in public places is required in St. Paul.Face mask

“Amid highly contagious COVID-19 variants, Mayor Melvin Carter signed Executive Order 2022-3 on January 5, 2022, renewing the requirement for face masks to be work indoors:

  • Individuals, regardless of vaccine status, at City-Controlled Property: Must wear a face-covering indoors at all times. Employees who are not in a congregate setting and are alone in their assigned workspace may refrain from wearing a face covering.
  • Individuals are not required to wear a face-covering while outdoors, unless at an activity specifically designated and posted by the City as requiring a face covering.
  • Businesses Licensed by the City of Saint Paul: Must require all Individuals to wear a face-covering indoors at all times when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not maintained, except for temporary removal of face-covering when eating or drinking.
  • Athletes, performers, and supporting staff competing or performing at indoor spaces that are licensed or controlled by the City of Saint Paul are not subject to this regulation.
  • All Businesses: Strongly encouraged to continue to require that all individuals, regardless of vaccine status, wear a face-covering indoors at all times when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not maintained.

In real estate, we had a kind of protocol in place during most of the first two years of the pandemic. We asked our clients to wear masks when touring houses and we asked that only the buyers or decision makers tour homes in person. There was a whole protocol for sanitizing door knobs for those who believe that doorknobs pose a threat.

Most houses on the market had hand sanitizer and some had masks near the front door.

We had rules about having too many people in the house at a time.

Those rules no longer apply. If you are selling a house or buying a house you may wish to take some precautions. You can ask your agent to wear a mask. Most agents will. You can also request a private showing or even a video tour.

I let my clients know that I am fully vaccinated and boosted and wear a mask when I am in any house but my own.

Let’s have a safe and healthy third year of the pandemic.

Got Radon?

January is national radon awareness month even during a pandemic and even in 2022. The winter months are one of the best times to test radon levels and we have lots of radon in Minnesota.

Homebuyers should always have a radon test as part of the home inspection.  It doesn’t matter if the next-door neighbors have tested and do not have radon or if no one knows of anyone in the neighborhood who has ever had a positive radon test.

When buying or selling a house the radon test should be conducted by a professional. 

Most homeowners have never tested for radon even though it is estimated that nearly half of all Minnesota an estimated 40% of homes have elevated levels of radon.

I’ll never forget the time the real estate agent told the buyers that she had never heard of radon in the neighborhood. It just doesn’t work that way.

Radon gas can be anywhere and everywhere. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that comes from the soil. When inhaled these fine particles can damage the lungs. Exposure to radon over a long period of time can lead to lung cancer.

The average radon level in Minnesota is more than three times higher than the U.S. radon level. This is due to our geology and how our homes are operated. Minnesota homes are closed up or heated most of the year, which can result in higher levels of radon. In Minnesota, more than two in five homes have radon levels that pose a significant health risk.

Learn more from the Minnesota Department of Health

Info graphic national radon hotline 1-800-sos-radon