Many homes built before 1980 contain asbestos in old floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles and flashing, siding, insulation (around boilers, ducts, pipes, sheeting, fireplaces), pipe cement, and joint compound used on seams between pieces of sheetrock. Some newer houses may also contain asbestos.
Asbestos becomes a hazard when it is airborne. If asbestos in the home becomes damaged, asbestos fibers may be released.
For example, when asbestos insulation around boilers, furnaces and pipes deteriorate, it releases asbestos dust. Blown ceilings containing asbestos may release fibers when they are drilled or patched. If the ceilings are in poor condition, air movement from ceiling fans and opening and closing draperies may spread asbestos dust.
Asbestos transite pipes, which have been used underground to transport water to the home and in some flue pipes, may pose another problem. Transite is an asbestos-containing cement material which deteriorates over time. As the transite deteriorates, asbestos fibers can be released from the interior of the pipe into the drinking water flowing through the pipe.
A visual inspection of your home is usually not sufficient to determine if it contains asbestos. Instead, samples of suspected asbestos fibers should be sent to a certified laboratory for analysis.
Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) are two approved methods of analysis. A certified company should always be used to carry out this work.
The method used for dealing with asbestos in the home depends upon where the asbestos is found, the condition of the material, and whether it is friable or non-friable. Friable asbestos can be easily crumbled or reduced to a powder and can become airborne. Non-friable asbestos is more tightly bound with another material and its fibers cannot easily be made airborne unless they are sanded, cut, or sawed.
If asbestos-containing material is currently in good condition and contained, such that fibers cannot be released, then it may not be dangerous at this time. However, the situation should be monitored for signs of asbestos deterioration and damage.
In some cases, asbestos-containing materials may be repaired or isolated rather than removed. For example, small tears in pipe insulation may be repaired. Asbestos material that is in good condition may be isolated from potential damage by using a sturdy, airtight barrier. This can be a temporary solution to some asbestos problems. Encapsulants have been used over sprayed-on asbestos-containing material on walls and ceilings. Encapsulants are materials applied in liquid form to provide a seal against the release of asbestos fibers. They can work well for asbestos-containing material that has not been damaged, but do more harm than good if the material is deteriorating.
Asbestos removal is the only permanent solution to the problem of asbestos in the home. However, removal poses a high risk of fiber release if not done properly. Air samples should be taken after the work is completed to ensure the safety of the homeowner. During the removal process, the contractor should use a HEPA vacuum, approved respirators, and disposable clothing.
Whether asbestos is repaired or removed from your home, it is important that you choose a competent professional who is certified to do asbestos abatement work. Many home repair or remodeling contractors do not have this special certification. Make sure that the person you choose has the appropriate certifications and is qualified to carry out this work. Also, it is recommended that the asbestos professional who performs the abatement work be independent from the contractor who initially inspects your home for asbestos contamination. This helps ensure that only the necessary work is done.
Heritage Asbestos Ltd is fully accredited to deal with Domestic Asbestos.
If you have any questions or need advice on Domestic Asbestos feel free to contact us here