Many homeowners are concerned about the possibility of asbestos in the home and the health hazards associated with it. And that’s with good reason—breathing asbestos fibers over a long period of time can lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
For years, asbestos was widely used in various building materials such as wall and ceiling insulation, vinyl flooring, insulation for heating ducts, pipe wrap for water heating systems, roof tiles, acoustic ceiling tiles, and much more. While the use of asbestos in these products has been dramatically reduced, these materials are still present in thousands of homes, especially those built before 1980. If asbestos is suspected, homeowners will need to contact a qualified expert to sample and confirm its presence and condition. A visual assessment, such as during a home inspection, cannot determine whether a given material contains asbestos.
Is it always a problem? It’s important to know that asbestos poses a health risk when the fibers become airborne, which can occur if materials are crumbling or damaged. Fibers can also be released when sanding, drilling, cutting or sawing materials containing asbestos. If there is minor localized damage, it can be professionally repaired by encapsulating the asbestos fibers with a specialized sealant. If the asbestos-containing materials are in good condition, the best course of action may be to leave them alone. Newer materials that contain asbestos are designed to encapsulate the fibers, preventing them from being released into the environment.
The biggest risk is for homeowners or other non-professionals to attempt asbestos removal themselves. Disturbing asbestos usually makes it dangerous; if it must be removed, it’s a job for a qualified expert who has the proper training, equipment and disposal mechanisms. In some cases, such as during a home renovation where demolition is part of the project, asbestos removal is the only option.
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is committed to ensuring confident homeownership. To learn more about how Pillar To Post Home Inspectors can help your clients, visit pillartopost.com.