What to Do If You Suspect Your Old House Has Asbestos

Posted on: 22 April 2021

Homes built before the 1980s could expose occupants to asbestos. The hazardous substance lurks in building materials manufactured in the 1900s, and when inhaled, it can cause severe health complications such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. Therefore, if you suspect your old home may be having asbestos, it's imperative to take immediate action. Below are three essential steps you can take towards asbestos remediation.

Inspect your building materials

Just because your home was built in the late 1900s doesn't mean it has asbestos. Previous owners may have carried out asbestos removal after the ban on the material. Therefore, the first step is to inspect the following building materials and look for signs of asbestos. You may find it in: 

  • Building cement
  • Roof, wall, and floor insulation
  • Ceiling and wall coatings
  • Floor tiles
  • Roof shingles and siding

Asbestos can also be found in old furnaces and furnace ducts, boilers, stoves, steam pipes and artificial ashes used in residential fireplaces. It's hard to tell for sure if you have asbestos just by looking at the materials. However, you can check for a white powdery substance on hot water pipes, furnaces, water heaters, siding and HVAC ducts. Also, look for the "ACM" label on roofing tiles, which stands for Asbestos-Containing Material.

Assess the condition of the asbestos

Asbestos is only dangerous if it is in a friable state. In this state, the fibres are airborne and can linger in the air for days. The substance crumbles under slight pressure and releases the fibres into the air. Friable asbestos can be found in piping, furnaces, water heaters, ceiling tiles and wallboards. The powdery substance found on these materials and appliances is asbestos in a friable state.

If the substance is already falling apart from the material, it is hazardous. Since the fibres are microscopic, you can easily inhale them and expose yourself to health hazards. Therefore, if you notice friable asbestos in your home, stay away from the affected materials. If possible, move out of the house until you remove the dangerous materials.

Arrange for professional remediation

Asbestos removal is the only sure way of protecting your household from this hazardous substance. You cannot carry out any repair or remodels without exposing your loved ones to harm. Thus, contact an inspector for a thorough assessment of your building. They will pick samples from the suspected asbestos-containing materials and test them in a lab. 

Once the results are out, you can arrange for asbestos removal. This is a delicate project that requires the use of proper safety gear to prevent exposure. Don't attempt DIY removal if you don't have the expertise and equipment required to handle the materials. 

Asbestos can expose a building's occupants to chronic respiratory illnesses. Contact a professional who provides asbestos removal if you suspect you have it in your home.