9 Places Asbestos May Still Be Lurking in Your Home.
With their charm and personality, older homes are simply unmatched by most cookie-cutter new developments. Unfortunately, older homes do come with their downsides, too -- especially if they were built before 1980. Up through 1979, countless homes were constructed with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), and these 9 places are the biggest culprits you should be weary of.
#1 Roofing and Siding
Being resistant to heat, fire, and conductivity, asbestos was a common component for siding and roofing shingles. If you have a roof old enough to contain asbestos, it needs to be replaced, but you first need to have it tested by an abatement company.
Vinyl floor tiles are one of the biggest culprits for ACMs in households across the country. Asbestos was often used in the backing for vinyl sheet flooring and it can also be found in flooring adhesives. If your floor was installed before 1981, you could have asbestos hiding within it. If the floor is damaged in any way, like gouged or scraped, you could be releasing asbestos fibers.
#3 Pipe Insulation
Thanks to its heat resistant properties, asbestos was often used to wrap around hot water and steam pipes for water and heating systems. Some pipes were even directly coated with asbestos material. As with any ACM, you should leave it alone if it's in good shape. You can choose to then encapsulate it or, if it's damaged, have it professionally replaced.
#4 Wallboard and Joint Compound
If your walls could talk, would they tell you they contain asbestos? Unfortunately, many wallboard and joint compounds, especially those around fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, used asbestos for both flame resistance and strength. Even sanding or patching a hole could cause the release of asbestos fibers, so play it safe.
#5 Popcorn Ceilings
Whether you love them or hate them, popcorn ceilings are a common place for asbestos to be lurking. For homes built from the 1960s through the '80s, these "decorative" ceilings contain a spray-on texture that is typically made from asbestos fibers. If you have a popcorn ceiling, test it before you scrape/remove it or consider sealing it off with a professional's help.
Any wallpaper or wallpaper adhesive made before 1980 could contain asbestos, especially vinyl wallpapers. Intact wallpaper can be left alone or painted over, but if it's cracked, turn, or curling, you should have it professionally tested. If asbestos is found, a proper abatement company should be put in charge of handling it.
#7 Wall and Ceiling Insulation
For homes built through the 1930s up until the 1950s, asbestos could be lurking in the insulation of the walls and ceilings. Again, if not damaged, you can leave it untouched. However, if you plan to remodel or if you notice other damage in the walls or ceilings that could expose the insulation, call in a professional.
#8 Furnaces and Boilers
Thanks to its heat and fire resistance, asbestos was frequently used for gaskets, surrounds, and to insulate boilers, furnaces, and more. If you are looking to replace your furnace or other heating appliance, have an asbestos professional check things out before you disturb the area.
#9 Curtains and Fabrics
There was a time when asbestos curtains and drapes were sold for top dollar as heat and flame resistant window coverings. They were marketed to families to protect from house fired and they dampened noise, too. Others purchased such materials as stove-top covers. So, without a doubt, make sure any such materials are properly disposed of if you find them in your home.
Asbestos testing and inspection are performed through our sister company Albany Asbestos, LLC.
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The Author Kevin Maxwell is the owner and operator of Maxwell Home Inspection Services, LLC. Kevin Maxwell is a certified Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections.