Frequently Asked Questions
You’re ready to make the most of your Basement. Is it finally time to replace that Kitchen floor? You’ve got the ideas and the motivation…but wait! What’s under that layer of Vinyl Floor? What are those basement floor tiles made of?
What about…Asbestos? What do you do now?
First, Don’t panic! Usually the best thing to do is leave materials that are in good condition alone. Generally, materials in good condition will not release Asbestos fibers. Asbestos is the name of a group of naturally-occurring minerals that separate into strong, very fine fibers. The fibers are heat-resistant and extremely durable, and, because of these qualities, asbestos became useful in construction and industry. In the home it may or may not pose a health hazard to the occupants, depending on its condition. When it can be crushed by hand pressure or the surface is not sealed, to prevent small pieces from escaping, the material is considered FRIABLE. In this condition fibers can be released and pose a health risk, such as lung cancer from inhaling the fibers. However, as long as the surface is stable, not damaged, and well-sealed against the release of its fibers and not damaged, the material is considered safe until damaged in some way.
Examples of Where Asbestos Hazards May Be Found In The Home
What Should Be Done About Asbestos In The Home?
If you think asbestos may be in your home, don’t panic. Usually the best thing is to leave asbestos material that is in good condition alone.
Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.
Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.
Sometimes the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures.
If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.
How To Identify Materials That Contain Asbestos
You can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos or have it sampled and analyzed by a qualified professional. A professional should take samples for analysis, since a professional knows what to look for, and because there may be an increased health risk if fibers are released. In fact, if done incorrectly, sampling can be more hazardous than leaving the material alone. Taking samples yourself is not recommended. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone. Only material that is damaged or will be disturbed should be sampled.
How To Manage An Asbestos Problem
If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.
Repair usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material.
With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor.
Asbestos Do’s And Don’ts for the Homeowner