Older homes have a certain charm, personality and character that cannot be replicated or matched in newer builds. As much as they can possess these quaint and endearing qualities, if your home was built before the 1980s it may contain a dangerous building material that was widely spread: asbestos.
Asbestos can significantly and detrimentally impact your health if you inhale the fibres. If you believe you may have asbestos in your home the best thing to do preemptively is call in an hazardous materials assessment company to help you locate certain areas of your home and test them accordingly.
This mineral was widely used due to its cheap nature, but it also has some really redeeming construction qualities. Asbestos fibres are naturally flexible, strong, good insulators, resistant to chemicals, and fire resistant as well. Because of these qualities, before it was known that asbestos was dangerous they were used in house construction, if you have an older home there are a couple places you may want to check for asbestos.
9 Places Asbestos May Be Lurking in Your Home
A common place asbestos may be in is the flooring of your home, especially if you have vinyl floor tiles. The backing on vinyl sheet flooring and the flooring adhesive could contain asbestos especially if they were installed prior to 1981. If an asbestos containing floor sustains damage — for instance if it has been scraped or gouged when it’s dusted, swept or vacuumed it could release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. Even if your floor are in good condition, it’s worth considering sealing or encapsulating it. If you rather choose to remove the flooring entirely, you will have to ensure that the removal is done by a professional.
Because asbestos is a heat resistant material, it was typically used to insulate hot water pipes and steam pipes in heating systems. In some cases, the pipes would be coated directly with asbestos material and in other instances they would be covered with an asbestos blanket or tape. Similar to other types of asbestos, it’s best to leave the covering alone if it’s in good shape or have it encapsulated. If it has sustained any damage, contact a professional to remove and replace it.
Wall and Joint Coverings
Many types of wallboards and joint compounds like those around wood-burning stoves and fireplaces have asbestos fibres incorporated into them for strength and flame resistance. Simple home repairs like patching holes or sanding rough patches in a wall has the potential to release asbestos fibres and dust into the air. If you are thinking about doing a home remodel or improvement project, it would be a smart idea to call in a hazardous material consultant before doing any work to double check and assess your walls. This is more important if your home was finished around the mid-1980s.
One extremely common feature in older homes, especially those built around the aforementioned 1980s, is the retro style popcorn ceilings. This decorative texture was all the rage back in the 1960s through the early 1980s but this textured ceiling has an unfortunate side. The coating for this material was usually made from a sprayed on asbestos fibre or textured paint which was infused with asbestos. If you have a popcorn ceiling it best consider sealing it. If you would prefer to remove it, you will need have it professionally tested first to see if any asbestos is present, from there you can hire a qualified professional for its removal.
This one might seem a little odd but back before the 1980s many wallpaper manufacturers and wallpaper adhesive manufacturers used asbestos in their production, even more so i the wallpaper has a vinyl finish. If the wallpaper is left intact, you can leave it alone or have it painted over. But if the wallpaper is torn, cracked, or curling, it’s strongly recommended to have it tested and replaced.
Wall and Ceiling Insulation
If your home was built somewhere in between 1830 through the 1950s, you may want to check the wall and ceiling insulation. If there is no damage done to the walls or ceiling, and the insulation looks to be in good shape and isn’t loose or visible, it’s best to leave it untouched. If you have plans to remodel your home or if you notice any other damage on the walls or ceiling, it’s again recommended to call in an inspector or asbestos abatement company to check out the insulation and test it.