Asbestos: What Every Homeowner & Contractor Should Know
Many people are aware of the dangers of breathing in asbestos fibers. They can cause mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs. They can also cause other types of lung cancer and other, non-cancerous, lung problems.
What most people don’t know is that there is no asbestos ban in the United States. While most in-home uses for asbestos were phased out by the 1980s, it still remains legal for 12 or more applications.
Sometimes, homeowners start a DIY home improvement project, only to unwittingly release asbestos into their homes. Most of these homeowners don’t know how to identify an asbestos ceiling or what asbestos might look like in other places.
Therefore, anyone who lives in a home built in the 1980s or before should have an asbestos test conducted by a certified firm before starting any remodeling project in the home. If there’s a problem, they should hire Delaware asbestos abatement contractors to fix the problem before they continue with their project.
Where Asbestos Can be Found in Homes
Some areas but not limited to where you may find asbestos in a building built in 1980 or prior:
- Asbestos was added to the cement mix for added strength and lighter weight durability, along with being a proven insulator and fire retardant.
- Roof Shingles
- This type of shingle looks just like a slate shingle. The United States roofing industry started mixing color pigments into the asbestos shingle creating more color choices. In an effort to prevent a house fire from burning down the whole town, the near-fireproof asbestos shingle was born.
- Steam Pipes
- Cheap and easy meets effective and durable. Water and steam pipes were often wrapped in grayish white corrugated paper and appeared as a plaster or paste on valves and elbows. These contain asbestos. This type of sealant may be located on uncommon parts of the piping system as well.
- Ceiling and Floor Tiles
- The asbestos ceiling tile will be in a 2×2 or 2×4 manufacturer cut. It is very hard to tell if an asbestos containing material is present. Asbestos in floor tiles made them very durable and a great choice for high traffic areas. Both 9″x9″ and 12″x12″ tiles may contain asbestos. 9″x9″ if they were made before the 1960’s.
- Textured Paint
- Today’s technique for a popcorn ceiling look consists of a paper-based or Styrofoam product instead of asbestos. So again, it’s hard to know how to identify an asbestos ceiling without testing the material.
- Spray-on Insulation
- Developed to be a fireproofing, labor reducing, insulating material, spray-on insulation in many large commercial buildings can be found if the ceiling is encapsulated with a thick layer of grey coating.
How to Test for Asbestos
The several types of mineral fiber Asbestos can only be positively identified microscopically. Most of the time, they use a special microscope, designed specifically to identify fibers like asbestos. Some at-home test kits are available for asbestos. Homeowners can purchase these, get a sample of the material they want to test, then send in the kit and wait for their results.
However, unless a homeowner has training and experience to deal with asbestos, they risk exposing themselves and others through the simple act of taking a sample. Instead, finding and locating asbestos should only be conducted by a trained and licensed professional.
The same applies for removal. Delaware asbestos abatement contractors are specially trained to seal, cover, or otherwise treat areas containing asbestos so that it does not escape into the home. Once the work is done, homeowners can feel safe and secure in their homes again.