With asbestos and the ensuing health dangers being so much in the news for the past few decades, it is only natural for homeowners to wonder if there is the possibility of asbestos in their homes and if so, how to remove it.
The first thing you need to know is that just the presence of asbestos by itself is not a direct danger to your health, that is provided the asbestos is not damaged. It is only when the material is damaged that it poses a risk as you and your family could inhale the dust or the fibres that get generated when asbestos is cut, broken or damaged in any way.
If the asbestos in your home is intact and not damaged in any way – and an expert could tell you that – it would be best to let things be and not disturb the asbestos in any way.
Where Asbestos Might Be Found
The roofs in many homes that were built before 1999 will almost certainly contain some amount of asbestos. It can also be found in the sidings and shingles in older homes.
Many homes built in the 1930s and the 1940s used asbestos for insulation and also in the joint compounds and in paints. Steam pipes and floor tiles were also made with asbestos. In fact most materials used for sound-proofing, fire-proofing and insulation prior to 1999 contained asbestos.
Asbestos: To Remove Or Not To Remove
You have to remember that if the asbestos fibres are not released, you are at no risk of developing any asbestos-related health problem. So look carefully around the home and consider removing (DO NOT do this yourself) the asbestos only if there is something in your home that is damaged. While it is okay to be cautious and look for signs of damage, it is important to be careful not to touch, rub or disturb any asbestos-containing material in the process.
On the other hand, banging a nail into the wall or even using high-powered machines that make the place vibrate could damage the asbestos and expose you to the dangerous dust and fibres. Exposure to asbestos could also occur if your home is exposed to some kind of natural calamity that damages the asbestos material.
Knowing what items in the home could contain asbestos is a good place to start. You could have gloves, pads or even iron rests or ironing board covers that contain asbestos. You need to check with a professional asbestos expert whether the items could contain asbestos and if they do, what would be the best way to dispose of them.
If you do have a damaged item, do not touch it. Only if it is safe to do so should you ever attempt to seal it or the area off so there is no danger of the dust or fibres getting into the air and from there, into your or others lungs. Ideally, leave it to an expert to identify whether or not you have asbestos in your home, whether it is damaged and how best to get rid of it. You can find more information on how to do this here.
Asbestos And The Professionals
You could hire a professional asbestos inspector to check your home and tell you what could contain asbestos, what you can get rid of and how best to do it and also what you could get repaired and how. Depending on the damage, the inspector may take a sample away for analysis and guide you as to how to protect yourself from any further danger due to that damage.
If the damage is serious, you will need a government approved contractor to repair it. These professionals have been trained in asbestos handling. Make sure to get a written contract and ensure that it abides by the government and local regulations that pertain to asbestos removal and its disposal. If you can, stay away from the home till it is clear of any traces of asbestos.
A professional contractor should totally seal off the affected area and wet the area down to prevent any loose particles becoming airborne before actually tackling the damage. They will also take extra care not to break up the damaged area or portion. They should have the proper safety equipment and protective clothing to do the job. After the work is done, the area should be cleaned with wet sponges or rags, never with a vacuum cleaner and no dusting or sweeping should be done. Wet mops tend to prevent the asbestos fibres from flying into the air.
Never underestimate the dangers of asbestos and never try to repair or get rid of asbestos by yourself. For your safety and the safety of any family or friends it is crucial to get professional advice from an expert when it comes to asbestos removal or repair.