Threat of Asbestos During Home Improvement Projects

Your older home may be full of charm with its original woodwork, stunning light fixtures, leaded glass windows, and built-in seating in the dining area, but what your beloved home doesn’t have is space. For many modern homeowners, who love the look of classic early to mid-century 1900’s architecture, the obvious lack of storage space and the small bathroom or kitchens leaves many homeowners considering a big home improvement project. As with any remodeling project, it’s important to know what (or if any) dangers lurk behind the walls or beneath the floorboards. One of these dangers is asbestos.

If you live in a home that was constructed between the 1930’s and 1970’s, there’s a good chance that some of the materials contain asbestos and can be found throughout your home. While the mineral fiber, used for its heat and fire resistant properties, is no longer widely used in home construction materials, it can pose a threat to your health if it is in poor condition. Before you begin tearing out a wall or ripping up some flooring, make sure you’re not disturbing materials that contain it.

Asbestos fibres
Asbestos fibres

Where is Asbestos in Your Home?

Asbestos can be on your roof, in your attic, in your ceilings, on the walls, in the kitchen, and even in the basement. Before you panic, halt your home improvement project, and put the house on the market, it’s important to know where to look for asbestos and how to identify if it’s hazardous or not.

While asbestos exposure has been known to lead to deadly lung diseases like mesothelioma, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that asbestos is typically harmless if it is in good condition and left undisturbed. Here are some of the places where asbestos may be located in your home:

  • Blown-in attic insulation, such as vermiculite
  • Vinyl or linoleum floor tiles
  • Window caulking
  • Roofing material, such as tar paper
  • Heating and Cooling duct insulation
  • Siding materials
  • Acoustic ceiling tiles
  • Textured paints
  • Artificial embers in gas fireplaces
  • Door gaskets in wood stoves or furnaces

The best way to determine whether or not the materials are damaged is to look for tears, abrasions, or water damage. If you suspect damaged asbestos materials in your home, don’t disturb them or try to remove the material on your own.

The beginning of a renovation project
Renovation

Call Professionals Before You Start the Renovation Project

Even if you are certain that asbestos is located in your home, but is in good condition, it’s always a good idea to hire a professional asbestos inspector before making any changes to your home. Failure to seek professional advice can increase your chances of unintentional and potentially dangerous exposure to asbestos. Upon inspection, he or she will determine the condition of any asbestos in your home and will advise you if you can go ahead with the home improvement or hold the project until you have the asbestos removed.

Before you go ahead and try to make the most of your attic space or rip up the old linoleum in your kitchen, make sure you’re given the “go ahead” by a professional for the safety and health of yourself and your family.

 

About the author: Landon Biehl is an avid writer, and enjoys spreading awareness for health issues on a global level. He enjoys informing others on potential health hazards that are not always speculated. In his free time, Landon enjoys kayaking, running, and being outdoors. Landon also enjoys spending time at his local beach when time permits.

Feature image credit: Flickr

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