Asbestos is a silent killer that you need to be aware of. Some seem to think it is a thing of the past, but that’s not really the case. It was most commonly used in building and construction materials even up until the late 1990’s. Asbestos does not become dangerous until it is damaged or moved. Most exposure happens during remodels and when changes are being made to a home. To avoid exposure, it is important to be well informed about the common places where you may find asbestos so you know what to look for and what steps you should take to keep your home safe.
Where Are the Most Common Places I Should Look for Asbestos?
Ceiling & Walls
- Asbestos is often found in textured paint and patching materials used on ceilings and walls. One of the most common places these types of materials were used in the 1950’s through 1980’s was on popcorn ceilings.
- Walls and floors surrounding woodburning stoves were also commonly lined with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
- Wallpaper and wallpaper adhesives used prior to 1980 run a high risk of containing asbestos, especially if it has a vinyl finish.
- Flooring is a common source of asbestos. It is most often found in vinyl floor tiles, the backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and flooring adhesives. Especially if floor tiles were laid prior to 1980, there’s a good chance asbestos may be present. If any of this type of flooring is damaged, fibers can easily make their way into the air, becoming particularly dangerous.
- Prior to 1980 asbestos was a chosen material for insulation in several parts of the home. It may be found in insulation in attics, basements, walls, and even in heating elements like pipes, broilers, electrical wiring, and HVAC ducts.
- Insulation that is loose asbestos is among the most dangerous form of the substance. When loose it can release fibers very easily if it is disturbed.
Roofing & Siding Materials
- Roofing is one of the most common places to find asbestos. Due to its extreme resistance to heat, fire, and electrical conductivity, asbestos became a common material used in roofing and siding shingles. Spray-on asbestos was also commonly used on the interior and exterior surfaces of homes in addition to siding.
- Roofs and siding old enough to contain asbestos should be replaced. Removal should only be handled by trained, accredited asbestos professionals.
- Cement has always been a very common building material. Asbestos was often used to strengthen the cement mixture builders and fabricators would use for construction.
- Cement that has asbestos looks identical to mixtures that do not contain asbestos, and this is what can make it particularly dangerous.
- Homes built before 1980 will most likely have parts of their home where these types of mixtures were used. Common areas include cement in roofing, shingles, around woodstoves, and on siding.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Asbestos in My Home?
- Asbestos can be difficult to detect just by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If you suspect your home may have asbestos, it is highly recommended that you have your home evaluated by a trained and accredited asbestos professional, especially before starting any home projects. An outside lab test will be the best way to determine if there is a problem.
Asbestos can definitely be scary, but knowing what signs to look for and the support that is available will be the best way to keep your home safe from the dangers it presents.
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