The name asbestos has its origin in the Greek word used for inextinguishable. Unless it is labeled, you generally are not able to tell if a material contains asbestos merely by looking at it. If you are uncertain, it is important to treat the material in question as if it did contain asbestos and simply leave it alone.
Asbestos is an inexpensive and highly-effective fire retardant material and acoustic and thermal insulator, from the early 1940s through the 1970s asbestos was a very common material used in home construction. When disturbed, miniscule abrasive asbestos fibers are inhaled easily, this causes damage to the lung tissue. Nowadays we are aware that prolonged exposure to the asbestos fibers can lead to lung disease and even cancer.
If you live in a home that was built in the 1980s or at a later date, you probably do not have any asbestos components in your home, if you do than they would have to have been properly labeled. However, homes that were built before the 1970s most likely contain asbestos among their construction materials; this could be included in the following:
- Heat Proofing Surroundings — boards, floor and wall treatments surrounding stoves and well as older furnaces.
- Insulation — wall and attic insulation in homes that were built during 1930 through 1950 as well as homes the up through 1990 had vermiculite insulation.
- Ceiling and Floor Tiles — in drop tile and sheet forms.
- Water and Heating Pipes — adhesives and exterior wraps.
- Wall and Ceiling Treatments — thick, soundproofing or decorative coatings which resemble dried foam cottage cheese or popcorn-like grooves.
- Roofing and Siding — sheets and shingles containing composites of asphalt and concrete.
- Corners, Walls and Gaps — commonly patching materials and joint compounds contained asbestos.
These are only a few of the most common places that used asbestos products, and unfortunately in order to check if it exists in your home, it takes more than simply eyeing these areas and sources. You cannot identify asbestos by sight alone, it is completely odorless and if it was used prior to when it was banned, there will be no labeling. The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is by testing at microscopic levels, this is something that should always be done by a trained and experienced professional.
What Should I Do if I Have Asbestos in My Home?
If you believe that you may have asbestos in your home, it is important to remain calm and to not panic. Materials that contain asbestos yet have not been damaged or disturbed are not usually a risk to one’s health. If it is in good condition, usually the best option is to simply leave the material the material containing asbestos alone.
As mentioned above, if the material is in good condition and will not be disturbed, for example due to remodeling, it will not release asbestos fibers. Materials that contain asbestos fibers tend to release fibers when they are damaged, disturbed, repaired, improperly moved, torn, cut, drilled, sawed or scraped. If you are aware of any material that contains asbestos, it is important to keep an eye on them from and signs of damage or wear.
If there is any material containing asbestos that has been slightly damaged, it is best to immediately limit access to the area where the material is, it should not be touched or disturbed and you should seek professional assistance. If there is more than just slight damage to the material or if you may be making changes to your home that could disturb the material, it is important to immediately seek a professional asbestos remover that us accredited and experienced.
A Homeowners Do’s and Don’ts for Asbestos
Leave all undamaged materials that contain asbestos alone.
Any areas that contain damaged materials that could have asbestos should be avoided, it is important to limit children’s access to this area as well.
Take as many precautions as you can to avoid damaging many materials that may contain asbestos.
Make sure that trained and qualified professionals handle the removal or any major repairs with asbestos materials.
Do not sweep, dust or vacuum any asbestos containing debris.
Do not sand, saw, scrape or drill holes in materials that contain asbestos.
Do not use brushes or abrasive pads on power strippers in an attempt to remove wax from asbestos flooring. If there is a chance that the flooring contains asbestos, never use an electric stripper.
Material that may contain asbestos should never be tracked through the house. If walking through the area is unavoidable, make sure you clean it with a wet mop.
If you suspect that there is material containing asbestos in your home or if you are certain and there is any damage or need for removal, it is very important that you seek assistance from a professional. Trying to handle it on your own without the proper equipment and protective gear could be harmful to you, your family and even the neighbors.