Asbestos is a mineral that was used extensively in building materials during the mid-1900s. Its use has since been banned, but it still poses health risks to homeowners today. Asbestos can be found in many household products, including vinyl flooring and ceiling tiles, insulation on pipes or walls, linoleum flooring or mats under kitchen countertops and sinks, old paint containing asbestos (usually found in pre-1970 homes), shingles on roofs of older homes (especially those built before 1980) and even some children’s toys.
This blog will explain everything you need to know about how to identify asbestos in your home. It will detail where asbestos may be found in each room of your home (bathroom, toilet, bedroom). However, this should be used as a guide only and we highly recommend you contact a certified residential asbestos remover to test your home before undertaking any demolition or home renovations.
Asbestos in bathrooms
Asbestos can be found in bathrooms in older homes in the form of asbestos cement products. Asbestos was added to concrete mix for its fireproofing properties and can be found in sink, countertop and bathtub linings as well as old textured paints containing asbestos (usually found in pre-1970 homes).
Asbestos may also sometimes be used in floor tiles around sinks and showers due to their waterproof qualities. While no longer available commercially, you will occasionally come across some vintage tiles that are made from asbestos containing material. If you suspect your bathroom contains any asbestos products it would be best not to handle them yourself – instead get in touch with a certified asbestos removalist to remove and dispose of the asbestos correctly.
Asbestos in toilets
Your bathroom is not the only place you may find asbestos in homes. If you have a toilet that is not located in the bathroom it is important to know that this may still contain asbestos. In older homes, insulation around the water tank or old pipe insulation tape is likely to contain asbestos.
Asbestos in kitchens
Similar to the bathroom, asbestos containing products may be found within the kitchen in places such as behind wall coverings and under vinyl floor tiles.
It is important to note that asbestos containing materials are not necessarily dangerous so long as they remain undisturbed, but if you happen upon any old insulation or pipe wrap it should be safely removed by professionals before being disposed of correctly.
Asbestos can also potentially be found behind dishwasher installations – particularly older ones. The same rules apply here – only remove these asbestos materials once renovation work is planned on your home.
Asbestos in bedrooms and living areas
Don’t forget to test for asbestos in bedrooms and living areas. If there is any old ceiling insulation or pipe wrap, it may contain asbestos and should be removed by an expert.
Another place where asbestos is commonly found in older homes is inside the wall cavity. If these walls do not contain electrical wiring they can generally remain untouched – but only until the point at which the house needs renovating (at which stage all such materials need to be removed and disposed of correctly).
Asbestos in or on your roof
Don’t forget about what sits over your head. The asbestos in your roof is likely to be found inside the insulation (if it still exists) or on top of it (roof tiles). The best course of action with this type of asbestos is for an expert to remove and dispose of the asbestos insulation or ceiling tiles safely, due to how easily asbestos fibres can become airborne during removal.
Asbestos in your backyard
Last but not least, your backyard may contain asbestos products. If it is an older house, you may find asbestos cement or asbestos sheeting was used to build the fence around your home, commonly known as Super 6 asbestos fencing. You may even find traces of asbestos buried in your backyard. If you do, you should get in touch with a licensed professional and stop any digging or excavating until the area has been tested.
How to identify asbestos in your home
Now that it’s clear where asbestos may be present in your home we will look at how to identify asbestos in your home by the look and feel.
Some clear signs of asbestos in materials:
- Dusty material – this could indicate an older type of insulation or pipe wrap which contains harmful asbestos fibres.
- Flaking material – generally found on ceilings inside the wall cavity, as well as around hot water pipes where they enter into a room from outside walls. This can also occur with old ceiling insulation too.
- “Fuzzy” texture – if the surface feels “spongy”, has a “fuzzy” texture, is brittle and crumbles in your hand when you touch it.
The best way to identify asbestos in a home would be to have an asbestos professional come out and take samples of materials or dust from within the wall cavity or attic space for testing.
Asbestos dos and don’ts
Homeowners should take all safety precautions that are necessary to avoid asbestos exposure. Below is a quick reference list of the dos and don’ts when it comes to asbestos.
- Take the necessary safety precautions to avoid asbestos exposure
- Take every precaution not to damage any asbestos materials
- If in doubt, contact licensed professionals to test for, remove and dispose of any asbestos materials
- If you are planning to demolish or renovate your home, contact an asbestos professional
- Talk to your real estate agent or building and pest inspector about any known asbestos in the home
- Correctly remove and dispose of asbestos materials
- Disturb asbestos containing materials
- Sweep, vacuum or dust debris that may contain asbestos fibres
- Try to test for asbestos without proper testing authorities
- Perform any work on or near asbestos materials
- Dispose of asbestos containing materials with normal household waste
Asbestos next steps?
If you’re not sure whether there’s any asbestos in your home, don’t take any chances – contact a professional who has expertise in identifying its presence accurately and can completely remove all traces from the site.
At Rapid Asbestos Removal we are specialised in conducting residential asbestos removal and asbestos disposal. If you’re not sure whether asbestos is present we can also conduct asbestos testing where we cut samples from suspect areas and test these in a lab to confirm whether or not asbestos is present.
Want to find out more about our services? Contact our friendly team today!
Frequently asked questions
If there are high levels of asbestos present in any area of your home then this should not pose too great a problem unless you plan extensive home renovations or demolition work. If you do plan to do so, you should contact a certified asbestos removalist to remove and dispose of the asbestos safely.
Home owners can carry out minor repairs on asbestos cement materials and other asbestos products, however we recommend speaking to an expert if you wish to do any major home improvements. This will ensure you not only remove the asbestos material correctly, but also dispose of it safely.
Houses built before the 1990’s are likely to contain asbestos products. You can often tell if there is asbestos material in your home by the look and feel (dusty, flaking or “fuzzy” texture materials). If in doubt, you should contact a licensed asbestos removalist to examine your home for traces of asbestos containing materials.
If you have been exposed to asbestos containing materials it’s best to consult with your doctor who may wish to send you for a scan of your chest for signs of an asbestos related disease. However, developing asbestos related diseases will usually arise after many years of regular exposure or an extremely intense short-term exposure to asbestos.
If you have asbestos containing materials in your home that become disrupted by demolition or home renovation projects you may run the risk of exposing asbestos fibres. Exposing these fibres could lead to you inhaling them which can lead to long term health risks.
Asbestos present in materials can become friable if it has been damaged or worn over time. Friable asbestos poses the greatest health risk, because fibers can become loose and get into your airways causing serious illness such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. Which is why it is best to avoid as much asbestos exposure as possible and contact licensed professionals.
If you find asbestos buried in your backyard you should stop digging immediately. Contact an asbestos professional you can come and take samples of the soil to test for asbestos, and if found, can then remove and dispose of the asbestos correctly.