Purchasing Property with Asbestos
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral that was woven into fabrics and used in older homes. It was used in home building for many years due to its qualities of resisting heat, fire, electricity, and chemicals. When asbestos is inhaled, the fibers aggravate the lung tissues which cause them to scar. Lung cancer can result from inhaling asbestos along with pleural effusions, a buildup of fluid in the space between the chest wall and lungs.
Where is Asbestos Found?
Asbestos is found in many building materials including:
- Ceiling tiles and textures
- Roofing products
- Clapboard shingles
- Boiler and pipe insulation
- Vinyl floor coverings and mastic
- Paint and patching compounds used on walls and ceiling joints
If asbestos is in excess of the trigger levels, it must be removed by a certified contractor (see below). For single-family dwellings, the trigger levels are 50 linear feet in pipes, 32 square feet on other surfaces, or the volume equal to a 55 gallon drum. In public and commercial buildings, the trigger levels are 260 linear feet in pipes, 160 square feet on other surfaces, or the volume equal to a 55 gallon drum.
A Colorado-certified General Abatement Contractor (GAC) must remove any asbestos found. They use all the right equipment including air masks and disposal bags. Don’t take chances – get the pros to remove this dangerous product correctly.
If you plan to do any type of remodeling in a property you own or are considering purchasing, asbestos should be something to consider. If you remove something or start to demolish it, watch for a white fibrous material breaking apart. Chances are, you have asbestos. The safest thing to do is to call in the professionals first who can test different areas of your home. If any area is positive, the pros can then remove the material and dispose of it properly.
Purchasing a Property with Asbestos
The only way to positively ensure your property purchase does not have asbestos is to have a test by a GAC done. However, the guidelines are that any home built after 1990 probably does not have any asbestos-containing materials. Homes built before the mid-1980’s have a high likelihood of having some asbestos-containing products. Home built mid-1980’s to 1990 probably have some type of asbestos product.
Asbestos products when not disturbed generally do not impose a health risk since fibers will not be released into the air. However, if you drill into ceiling tiles, have a leak onto asbestos containing drywall, or disturb a product containing asbestos, that is when you’ll want to call a professional. If in doubt, call the pros!