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June is here and with that comes longer days and warmer weather; the perfect time of year for do-it-yourself home renovations and upgrades. But before you go diving into your next DIY around the house, there are certain precautions you should take. Eighty percent of homes built prior to 1980 still contain asbestos and they’re usually hiding in the materials you’re most likely to mess with during your reno-project. In honor of National Home Safety Month, we’ve compiled some information to make your home summer project successful and safe.
Project: Re-tiling the kitchen or bathroom
One of the most attractive features of asbestos in manufacturing is the substance’s fire-resistance and durability. If your home was built prior to or during the early 1980s, it’s likely the tiles in your kitchen or bathroom contain asbestos. Fortunately, these tiles are relatively safe as long as they are not broken or cut for sizing. Re-tiling, however, requires the existing tiles to be broken up and removed in order to lay a new set of tiles. This might cause asbestos within the tiles to become airborne and inhaled.
Project: New roof installation
Similar to tiles and flooring materials, asbestos was added during manufacturing of roofing materials to make the materials more durable. It’s estimated that 80 percent of structures contain asbestos and much of that number comes from roofing. Everything from roofing cement or glue to roofing shingles may contain asbestos and the fibers run the risk of becoming airborne if agitated by lifting and/or breaking the existing materials for removal and replacement.
Project: Replacing insulation
If you’re planning on replacing your insulation in order to save on heating costs come winter, it’s important to know that insulation products are among the most common materials that contain asbestos. Whether it’s in your attic, the walls of your home, or surrounding pipes in your basement, there’s a good chance at least some of the insulation in your home contains asbestos if your house was built prior to 1980. When first installed, insulation is typically safe. The wear and tear of time, however, may have irritated and broken down the asbestos fibers, making them friable, or able to become airborne. If the insulation is removed carelessly or too quickly, the amount of asbestos released into the air will increase along with your risk of inhalation.
Although it's important to remove these materials from your home, if done the wrong way, you might put yourself at greater risk than before. Your best bet is to research and find a quality professional who specializes in asbestos detection and removal. Once they have checked your home, you should be able to proceed safely into a successful DIY home renovation.