6 Places You Might Find Asbestos in An Older Home

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Asbestos is mined around the world and developed into a wide range of products. Asbestos is a natural silicate mineral that has great insulating properties. It consists of millions of fibres that are bound together to make lightweight materials, and are almost indestructible.

Asbestos was used in home construction materials from early 1930  to the 1980s. It was used because of its resistance to heat and fire. You cannot ascertain if a material has asbestos, so you need to send samples to a lab for testing. It’s advisable to hire a trained asbestos professional to test, assess and advise on how to deal with the abatement of asbestos. 

It’s important to look for asbestos and remove it from your home, as it poses a serious health hazard. If asbestos is damaged or deteriorates, it releases fibres that can cause serious health issues when inhaled. Cancer research has found conclusively exposure can cause Mesothelioma, Lung cancer, Ovarian cancer, and more cancers that are possibly linked to asbestos exposure.

1. Flooring tiles 9×9

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Lift carpet to reveal the flooring underneath to see if there are asbestos tiles. Today’s tiles are 12×12 and the asbestos tiles are 9×9.  Not every homeowner will remove asbestos material due to the cost, but instead will encapsulate the tiles between layers of wood subflooring.

This method is fine, as long as nothing is disturbed. If you lift a floor vent, you might be able to see the layers of subflooring and tiles or vinyl flooring.

2. Vinyl sheet flooring

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Vinyl sheet flooring has asbestos fibres because they added strength and fire resistance. If there is black tar on the vinyl, it almost certainly contains asbestos. 

3. Plaster ceilings

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Plaster ceilings in homes built prior to 1986 can have asbestos materials. It is important not to disturb or remove any part of the ceiling before it is tested for asbestos. Textured ceiling finishes like popcorn ceilings have asbestos. Scraping the popcorn ceiling can release microscopic asbestos fibers. Hire a professional for removal.

4. Asbestos on Insulation products

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Older homes could still have leftover asbestos on pipes and should be removed by a professional. In the past, homes were heated by a boiler system, and it had a heat shield that contained asbestos because of its fire resistance.

5. Vermiculite – Attics and crawl spaces

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Commonly used in attics and crawl spaces for insulation, some vermiculite does contain asbestos fibers. It is very dangerous and expensive to remove. Have your vermiculite tested before removal.

6. Drywall

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Be cautious drilling holes in old drywall. Older homes have drywall containing asbestos, and if you drill a hole in the board, you can release fibers into the air. Even with minor repairs or replacements, you should bring in a professional to determine if asbestos is present and have it safely removed. Do not risk exposure to yourself and family members.  

In summary, if possible, avoid any contact with asbestos materials. If you are planning on renovating your older home it’s advisable to have an inspection done to assess known asbestos presence. If asbestos is present in your home, create a plan to have it professionally abated.

Do not disturb, scrape or handle any material containing asbestos. Leave it to the professionals. Do not sweep or vacuum areas containing debris and dust from asbestos. This will cause the fibers to become airborne. And lastly, never throw out materials containing asbestos into the trash or waste disposal.

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, contact your family physician. Although there are no tests to show you have been exposed to asbestos, there are tests to detect diseases related to asbestos exposure. Commonly asbestos-related diseases are diagnosed at least 15 years after exposure.

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Roy Thomas SRES® (Senior’s Real Estate Specialist) is a REALTOR® with Sutton Group Professional Realty. Since 1991, Roy specializes in helping retirees with their later in life real estate transactions. Call Roy at 902-497-3031 or contact Roy here

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