One can seldom know if a material contains asbestos just by looking at it unless the label says that it contains asbestos. If you ever have the feeling that it does, act like it does: don’t touch it. Touching asbestos disturbs it, and that’s when it can be harmful. You will probably want a trained and accredited asbestos professional to sample it. Federal law does not require them to be trained and accredited, some states do require them to be, though. If you do this DIY, you might end up disturbing it, so you might be in more harm than before.
You probably want to have a test done if you have a feeling anything contains asbestos, but if you are getting your house remodeled you need it to be tested. Remodeling kicks up a lot of dust. You don’t want that dust to be asbestos.
You also should test your house if walls and/or insulation are breaking and falling apart. Asbestos was often used in insulation.
If you think your house has asbestos
If you think you have a material containing asbestos, leave that material alone. Asbestos is almost harmless if it is left alone. Don’t touch it with your hands, and don’t touch it with a stick. Don’t touch it with anything. Touching it can release its toxic chemicals.
If you think your drywall has asbestos, look around it for water damage, and other damage. Don’t touch or bump the wall, and make sure that air is not constantly rushing around it, as that could release the fibers.
If your house contains asbestos never:
- Never sweep up asbestos. That will disturb it.
- Never remodel without getting your house tested.
- Never drill in/around the asbestos.
- Never work around the asbestos.
- Never let your kids play near the asbestos.
- Never track asbestos around the house. If you have to, use a wet mop over where you tracked the asbestos.
- Never do anything to a floor containing asbestos.
- Never go near the asbestos.
- Never touch or make the asbestos move.
- Never remove it yourself.
If your house contains asbestos, always:
- Always leave the material containing the asbestos alone.
- Always be out of the room containing asbestos.
- Always avoid the asbestos.
- Always have it removed by trained and accredited asbestos professionals.
How to repair and remove asbestos
There are two main ways to deal with asbestos. One is to repair, and one is removing it. There are two ways to repair it. One is sealing it, and the other is covering it.
Sealing asbestos is when the asbestos is treated so that the fibers stick together. That way, they don’t get released.
Covering asbestos is just like what it sounds like, the asbestos is covered so the fibers won’t be released.
If you are planning on doing something big like remodeling, remove the asbestos, don’t repair it. Get trained and accredited professionals to remove it. If you don’t get trained and accredited professionals to remove it, the removal might go wrong, which will expose the household more.
Two Types of Professionals
Generally, there are two types of asbestos professionals: asbestos instructors, and asbestos contractors.
Asbestos inspectors inspect asbestos, and they sample what is presumably asbestos. If you need removal, they will make sure that your contractor removes it properly and they will test the air to make sure that the levels of fibers in the air are not going up.
Asbestos contractors repair and remove asbestos.
When getting a professional, you should make sure that he or she is trained and accredited, as federal law doesn’t require them to be, some states do, though.
Before / When Hiring Asbestos Professionals
When hiring asbestos professionals, you should get two different firms, one for testing and one for removing or repairing. If you use one firm, there might be a conflict of interest.
Before hiring, have the professionals show you proof that they are really what they say they are: trained and accredited asbestos professionals.
Then, once they give you proof, go check with the Better Bureau and the local air pollution control board to find out if they have anything filed against them or if they have had safety violations.
Then, be sure that the inspector looks over everything and carefully collects and samples it.
If the material does contain asbestos, have the inspector write out a) where it is, b) how much damage there is, and c) his/her recommendation on how to correct and prevent it. Look at the contract on paper. Look at the cleanup plan and find out what regulations the contractor will follow.
Before, After & During The Job
Here is a list of what should be done before, during, and after the job:
- The whole area must be misted before removal. Wet fibers won’t fly around as easily as dry fibers.
- Marks the area clearly as a hazardous area. People, as well as pets, may not go in until the work is finished.
- A/C is off, and the pipes are sealed off with tape and plastic sheeting from the room the removal/repair is in. If pipe insulation is being removed, plastic gloves might be needed and must be sealed with tape and plastic sheeting. Once construction is done, this must all be removed properly.
- Does not break up the material into smaller pieces. This can send the fibers flying.
- No dust and debris are visible.
- All equipment, clothes, and disposable equipment must be thrown away in heavy-duty, sealed plastic bags.
- Once the work is complete, the contractor must clean the whole area with wet mops/rags/sponges or a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Don’t use a normal vacuum cleaner.
- The asbestos inspector may perform checks after the job to check that the area is clean and safe.
Now, make sure that all those procedures have gone through. Look at written assurance.
Now the inspector should test the air yet again, to make sure the number of fibers in the air has not gone up. If it has, the job was not completed properly.