More than half of the homes across the country have the potential to contain a deadly material called asbestos. This material was commonly used in many applications of home building for its fire-retardant qualities but has since been found to cause serious health problems after exposure.
When you move into an older home, it’s critical to look for signs of asbestos to protect yourself and your loved ones. The consequences of disrupting this building material can be very, very serious and even deadly.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many visual ways to detect the use of asbestos in your home. But we have created a guide to help you know which areas to be cautious of and what to look for so you can best stay out of harm’s way.
Table of Contents
1. Pipe Insulation
Before the ban was put in place, asbestos was often used in many plumbing products. It’s often found in insulation that surrounds pipes that are from this time period.
When wrapped around pipes, asbestos has the ability to keep the water temperature very consistent. Many plumbers found it as a great tool to keep pipes hot while not causing other problems or posing a safety risk (which obviously turned out to be incorrect). The industry also used asbestos to wrap pipes so they could be cut or welded without fire risk.
Asbestos wrapping on pipes often looks like white or gray corrugated paper. It’s typically found on top of the regular insulation and will likely look old since it hasn’t been used in decades.
If you see something like this don’t touch it or manipulate it at all. Disturbing asbestos releases the fibers which cause all of the health problems. Instead, call a professional with asbestos removal training for your next steps.
2. Wall Insulation
Just like asbestos was used as a way to secure and enhance pipe insulation, it was also used as regular insulation in the walls and attics of many homes.
This material was great for this job because of its high heat tolerance. Homeowners could get the benefit of insulation helping to regulate the temperature and keep things consistent without the worry of potential fires destroying the space. Because of this, it was used in most homes at the time.
Insulation was one of the most common vehicles for asbestos exposure for a very long time, so everyone needs to be extra careful around possible cases.
The most common type of asbestos-filled insulation is vermiculite, often found in attics. This insulation looks like little pellets that are golden brown in color. If you see this type of insulation in your home or attic, leave it be until you can contact a professional.
3. Vinyl Flooring
When you have vinyl flooring from several decades ago, you might have asbestos in your home. Asbestos was commonly added to vinyl tiles for many of the same reasons we’ve already discussed.
Vinyl flooring with asbestos isn’t automatically dangerous like some other materials. If the vinyl flooring is intact with no breakage or crumbling pieces, it’s safe to walk on and have in your home. But as soon as it starts to break down and disintegrate, you’ve got a major problem.
Many professionals will advise simply adding a new layer of flooring over top of the asbestos flooring. This locks in the fibers and eliminates any potential issues you could have. Removal should always be done by a professional.
4. Popcorn Ceiling
The most commonly known asbestos signs is a popcorn ceiling. First of all, because it shows the age of the home, you just don’t see that in a new home. But also because it was commonly used in this type of ceiling.
Popcorn ceiling is a finishing method that produces a rough, prominent texture with a lot of bumps across the whole surface. It was popular because of its ability to absorb sound better than other texturing methods. But many home builders incorporated asbestos into the covering.
You can click here to learn more about asbestos and lead signs and clean-up methods.
A sample of a popcorn ceiling should always be sent to a lab for testing before taking steps for removal. This should be done following strict safety protocols or by a professional.
5. Built Before 1980
Asbestos was added to so many building materials for so many years, it’s hard to make a comprehensive and exhaustive list of potential exposures. If your home was built before or during the 1980s, you should take extra caution when doing any projects inside.
Upon moving in, it’s a good idea to bring in a professional team to do testing on potential asbestos areas. This is the best way to eliminate any potential threats and help you feel more confident in your home.
The health effects of asbestos exposure and extreme and life-threatening, it’s never worth risking that kind of exposure to finish a project or save little money. There are so many professional companies that have been trained in the necessary safety measures to keep everyone healthy while removing the products.
If you have any indication that there could be asbestos, it’s better to be safe than sorry later on.
Key Signs of Asbestos to Look For
Our homes are supposed to be a safe place for us to live our lives and feel comfortable. Unfortunately, the common use of asbestos in older homes can make it impossible to do so for some. The threat of serious injury is real and dangerous if you have any signs of asbestos present.
The good news is there are many companies that have safety procedures to test and remove asbestos from homes. These professionals can clear your home of any potential harm and leave you that safe haven you’re looking for. The key is to leave any potential asbestos sight alone and let professionals handle the whole thing.
There will be a lot of opportunities for DIY as a homeowner, so leave this one alone!
If you’re interested in learning more about home improvement, check out our other articles today!