How to Check Your Home for Asbestos
Asbestos is a hazardous material that is found in many older buildings, specifically ones constructed before 1980. Construction companies stopped using materials that contained asbestos since it was linked to people who developed cancer.
While no longer used, asbestos is still a possible threat in older buildings or homes. While not dangerous on their own, it’s important to know where asbestos can exist so you can make sure not to disturb it.
If you suspect asbestos is in your home, here are some tips to check for this hazardous material in your home.
Where is Asbestos in My Home?
In older homes, asbestos was used in many construction materials due to its fiber strength and fire resistance. You could find asbestos in a wide variety of construction materials and products, including:
- Wall insulation containing vermiculite
- Roofing shingles
- Hot water and steam pipes
- Textured paints and patching compounds
- Heat-resistant fabrics
- Furnaces with asbestos insulation
As you can see, asbestos was mainly used in products designed to contain and withstand extreme heat. Unfortunately, that does mean that many items that live inside our walls could contain asbestos, like pipes and insulation materials.
How Does Asbestos Become Hazardous?
It’s important to note that asbestos on its own, undisturbed, is not hazardous. If the materials that are using it in your home are in good condition and show little sign of breaking or failing, then you’re at a lower risk.
Asbestos becomes hazardous once it is disturbed or damaged, usually when accidentally hit during construction or a renovation. Once disturbed, asbestos fibers are released into the air and can get in your lungs.
Because it’s so easy to spread, it’s recommended that you thoroughly check your home for any possible asbestos before starting any major projects.
What Do I Do If I Find Asbestos?
Unfortunately, you can’t exactly “see” asbestos, but you can see materials and items that would contain it. If you suspect in any way that a material or product contains asbestos, your first move is to leave it alone. Again, any disturbance could cause breakage and release of the fibers.
If you find a construction material that is broken or damaged, like a burst pipe or broken sealant, then stay away from that area as much as possible. If you don’t know for certain that asbestos is there, it’s always best to play it safe.
The next step is to get a sample of the material tested at a hazard testing facility. Do not try to gather the sample yourself, as the process is too dangerous for an untrained person to attempt.
Your best option is to call an asbestos professional. These people are specially trained and have the proper tools to safely gather asbestos samples. While you wait for the results of the asbestos test, make sure to stay away from the possibly hazardous area as much as possible.
How Do I Fix an Asbestos Leak?
If your asbestos tests confirm that materials in your home contain it, you have a few options:
- Sealing: If your pipes, furnace, or boiler insulation is the cause, then you can treat the hazardous material with a sealant. This option can either bind the asbestos fibers together or apply a coat so the fibers are contained.
- Covering: If your exposed pipes have asbestos, you can cover them to prevent the release of asbestos fibers. Make sure whatever you’re using is sturdy and tightly applied.
- Removing: If the material is too damaged, or if you’re planning on remodeling an area with asbestos material, you should remove the hazardous material.
In all 3 cases, you need to hire an asbestos specialist to perform the repair or removal. Just like with gathering samples, the procedure is too dangerous and can pose a serious threat to your health.
Reliable Asbestos Testing
Dealing with asbestos in your home can be stressful. Testing your possibly hazardous material shouldn’t be. If you need a reliable hazardous material testing facility, look no further than Environmental Hazard Services (EHS).
We specialize in testing asbestos samples, along with a wide variety of other hazardous materials. From lead, mold, water, and radon we make sure you get accurate results fast. Contact us now to answer any of your asbestos testing questions.