Asbestos may no longer be the household name that it once was a few decades back, yet it remains to be a looming threat, particularly in older structures such as homes and buildings. Fire resistant and a great thermal insulator, it was commonly used in quite a number of building materials, and was a major component in a lot of household products.
Knowing where asbestos can be found in the home is imperative, especially for homeowners whose houses were constructed prior to 1990. Below are some of the most common hiding places of asbestos in the home.
1. Ceiling tiles and roof shingles
Asbestos cement was then commonly used in the manufacture of roofing, shingles, and sidings. The good news is that these parts of the house are less likely to release asbestos fibers, except if they are sawed through, drilled into, or cut.
2. Pipes, ducts, and boilers
Houses built between 1930 and 1950 have a high probability of having asbestos as insulation. They can be commonly found in the material around pipes, ducts, and boilers as these may have been insulated with asbestos blankets or asbestos tape. Asbestos may also be present in the boards around fireplaces, windows, and radiators.
3. Vinyl floor tiles
Vinyl was popularly used because of its resilient nature as a material. Asbestos may be found on the backing of vinyl sheet flooring, or on the adhesives used for installing floor tiles. Avoid sanding tiles, as well as removing vinyl sheet flooring by scraping its backing as doing so may release fibers of asbestos into the air.
4. Textured paint
Textured paint and coatings often contained asbestos, as did patching and joint compounds for ceilings and walls. These can be considered health hazards once they start to peel, or are scraped off. Never attempt to remove such materials by yourself. When dealing with asbestos products, a professional who has undergone asbestos safety training should always be called in.
It is important to note that while asbestos itself is harmful, its mere presence alone does not automatically mean there is an immediate danger to the household. Asbestos is only dangerous once disturbed, and its fibers are released into the air. A visual inspection is usually not enough to conclude if a certain material contains asbestos. When the presence of this harmful substance is suspected, the best action would be to request the presence of an expert to take samples and have the suspected fibers tested for analysis.