Graaff-Reinet Advertiser

Thinking of buying


Termites and bed bugs are two types of insects that could be lurking in a piece of secondhand furniture, and could potentiall­y follow you home. Wooden furniture infested with termites may show visible damage when you inspect the interior or base of the piece.

Bed bugs aren't just found in used mattresses - they may also be present in upholstere­d sofas, chairs and other fabric-covered pieces. In most cases, you're better off passing on upholstere­d furniture altogether.

If you really want the piece, at least inspect it for bed bugs: place the item over a white sheet. Then, while wearing white latex gloves, run your finger through any creases in the piece. Look closely at your finger and the white sheet for any movement, skin, or dark red faeces stains. A flashlight can also help you inspect hard-to-see areas.

Steer clear of lead paint

Furniture made prior to 1978 may contain lead paint. Inhaling lead paint poses a serious health risk, especially for children. One sign that furniture is coated with lead paint is a cracked or wrinkled surface. Lead paint will also leave behind a chalky residue if it rubs off. If you don't know the age of a piece or suspect it may contain lead paint, you can purchase instant lead test swabs to be sure.

Mould is another substance you don’t want to bring back into your home. Mould poses a serious health concern, especially for people with breathing problems caused by allergies or asthma. If you purchase a piece of furniture with mould growing on or inside it, the mould could spread and ruin other furniture and fixtures in your home.

Thoroughly inspect secondhand furniture, looking inside drawers and cabinets and along the base. Mould and mildew can sometimes look like dust or dirt. If you are unsure which you are dealing with, try rubbing a small amount of diluted bleach on a section of the piece. If the substance is just dirt, the colour shouldn’t change. However, if it’s mould, the bleach should cause the area to lighten.

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