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With spring creeping up on us, spring cleaning and DIY projects may be filling up your to-do list. However, these tasks may require more steps and tools than you bargained for if you live in an older home. Asbestos, a known carcinogen to cause mesothelioma cancer, is found in 80% of structures built prior to 1980’s. If you are beginning a home renovation project, educating yourself on where you could possibly find asbestos in your home is the first and most important step to take.
In the late 1970’s, the United States began to strictly regulate asbestos use; however, there are many ways asbestos could have found its way into a home. Asbestos was widely used as an insulation material. Because of its microscopic size, durability and flexibility, it was mixed in with many construction materials. Below are some of the most common places where asbestos can be found in your home today.
Vinyl and linoleum flooring became very popular during the early twentieth century because it could be purchased in a variety of sizes, thicknesses, and was easy to install and clean. Asbestos was often times used in the glue used to apply the flooring as well.
Heating & Piping
Many heat and hot water pipes were coated or wrapped in asbestos materials and asbestos paper.
Wall & Ceiling Insulation
Used in wall insulation and acoustic ceiling panels, these materials were known to contain asbestos fibers. Not only did the asbestos provide the desired flame retardant property, but it also provided great internal acoustics and soundproofing.
Textured surfaces, like paints and popcorn ceilings, are the most commonly known surfaces to have traces of asbestos. Many joint and patching compounds used inside and outside of a home for patching, filling and gluing surfaces contained fibers to strengthen the material.
In older homes, siding, roof shingles, and tar paper contained asbestos fibers.
How do I know if my home contains asbestos?
The only way to know for sure if your home contains asbestos is to hire an independent asbestos consultant first. A consultant will perform the tests required to know if abatement should take place. An asbestos consultant can also provide you with advice for an abatement team to consider.
My home contains asbestos, now what?
If you have found asbestos materials in your home, you do not have to fear that you will become sick. Undisturbed asbestos will not cause health damage. It is when asbestos is disturbed that the tiny fibers can be inhaled and cause asbestos-related diseases. A homeowner should never try to remove asbestos; a licensed asbestos abatement professional should be hired to be sure that asbestos is removed and disposed of properly. An asbestos consultant can also be brought in after asbestos abatement has taken place to test that the abatement was done properly.
Finding asbestos in your home can be a frightening discovery, but doesn't have to stop your spring cleaning or renovation plans. By educating yourself on your home and with the help of professional, you can protect your family and your home from future health hazards.