Whether you are buying a home, selling one, or remodeling your current living environment, the project is a bit more complicated than simply grabbing a hammer and pounding the layout into a new shape. There are numerous variables you need to take into account and numerous questions you need to ask yourself or the seller about the external and internal map of your home.
One of the most important questions is “is this house contaminated with asbestos”. Asbestos is a toxic mineral that is extremely hazardous to your long-term health, and it might be residing in your home without anyone having a clue. Here is how you can make sure your home is asbestos-free and what you can do if it’s not.
The health hazards of asbestos
Firstly, you need to understand what asbestos actually is. Asbestos is a natural mineral obtained from the earth that has been extremely popular during the first half of the 20th century in the construction industry, as it was an excellent and cheap flame retardant.
However, asbestos, when disrupted and allowed to permeate the air, is quite toxic, and can cause long-term health conditions, and it can even lead to fatalities. While building containing asbestos are supposed to have it safely stored in their walls, beams, and foundations, it’s not a seldom occurrence to have asbestos break free due to the wear and tear of materials over the years.
Common areas where you might find asbestos
Although asbestos gas is odorless and colorless and thus is impossible to see or smell, there are some common areas where you can expect it to be present. Firstly, asbestos has been banned from the construction industry during the 1970’s when its toxic properties have been confirmed.
If you are buying or renovating a home that was built in the decades prior, you can expect that it contains some form of the mineral. Asbestos can also be found in vermiculite insulation, acoustic ceiling tiles, floor tiles, heating ducts, boiler pipe and boilers, old cement siding, under-floor glues, popcorn ceiling textures, and inside walls.
How to determine if your home has asbestos
Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know for sure whether you are exposing yourself or your family to the hazards of asbestos through personal inspection alone. However, there are effective modern ways you can easily have your house checked for the toxin.
In Australia, the growing concern among homeowners about asbestos has prompted them to employ professional asbestos air monitoring in Sydney and across the country in order to inspect the air in and around their homes with modern, sophisticated tools. The trend is slowly finding its way around the globe as well, as this is just about the right time when old buildings full of the mineral are beginning to show signs of wear and tear.
How to handle and eliminate contaminated areas
It is important to stress the fact that you should never try to handle, seal, or patch up any asbestos leaks in your home should you discover that your house is leaking the toxic fumes. Instead, you want to get your family and yourself to safety until the problem has been eliminated by a team of trained professionals. Remember, this is a toxin that can cause permanent health issues, so it’s important to act swiftly and decisively.
Dos and don’ts when dealing with asbestos
When materials containing asbestos are left undamaged, they present no real threat to your health, so there are certain dos and don’t you, as a homeowner, should follow. Always leave undamaged asbestos containing materials alone and take every precaution to avoid damaging the material. Limit the amount of activity around asbestos materials, especially if they are cracked or damaged in any way.
Do conduct the necessary repairs and take sample of the material to be inspected by a team of professionals if you are unsure if the mineral is present. Do not drill holes in, sand, or scrape materials that might contain asbestos, and do not dust, vacuum or sweep these materials either.
The asbestos problem around the world is far from contained, rather it is becoming increasingly present due to the wear and tear old buildings that were built using this mineral are experiencing. Be sure to use these tips to stay vigilant and call your asbestos professional if you notice any problems immediately.
Catherine is a passionate home design consultant from Melbourne. She loves making homes beautiful and buildings sustainable, but she also like sharing her advice and knowledge with people. That is why she is also a regular contributor to the Smoothdecorator blog. Besides all this, she loves reading and enjoys a superhero movie from time to time.