Home Asbestos Removal

As most forms of asbestos was permitted in building in the UK up until approximately 1999 the chances of owning a home or residential unit where the material is present is high.  Asbestos was chosen for its highly effective flame retardant and insulation properties to fireproof walls dividing multiple resident units and to create a sound barrier in walls, ceilings and flooring.  It was also an energy efficient means of insulating hot water tanks and plumbing as well as electrical wiring. 

Detecting Asbestos in the Home

Determining whether you have asbestos in your home can be difficult given it was typically installed in small inaccessible areas (such as between walls or in attics).  It is often necessary to have a sample taken of any suspicious material in your home to confirm the presence of asbestos.  This sample should only be taken by a professional.  Do not cut, saw or drill into any material which you suspect to be asbestos as you risk contaminating your living environment and your own health.  It is never recommended that homeowners conduct the inspection or sample themselves.

As asbestos ages it becomes susceptible to decay at which time the long fibres of the mineral can become easily airborne.  The fine particulate once disturbed can take hours or days to settle and is easily absorbed into porous surfaces such as carpeting and furniture through ventilation ducts during home asbestos removal and the inhalation (which is a proven carcinogen) can have serious and even fatal consequences leading to cancer and severe pneumonia like symptoms called asbestosis. 

It is important that if you suspect there to be asbestos in your home that you consult with an expert who can inspect for the presence of the material (it may be in more than one location in the home) and one who can advise you on the procedure for its removal as well as the tools and costs associated for safe containment of the particles and proper legal disposal of the removed materials according to the law.

Removal Considerations

When planning for home asbestos removal it is important to remember that it will not be possible to occupy the building during the time of the removal while the particulates are being disturbed as risk of inhalation is high.  Furniture and other porous surfaces will have to be removed from the home (including bedding, clothing) and carpeted floors will have to be thoroughly covered to prevent the fine and highly toxic dust from becoming imbedded.  Again, once the work is completed any items that have been protected with plastic covering will need to be carefully cleaned and appropriately disposed of. 

Vacuuming of the dust is not advised as the fibres of asbestos are finer than the filters on standard or industrial vacuums and pose a high probability of contaminating the air once the substance is agitated.

Professional Precaution

When hiring a licensed professional to assist in your home asbestos removal it is important to observe that they are following the correct guidelines and protocols as outlined by the government with regards to handing asbestos in a safe manner.  Windows, doors and ventilation should be thoroughly covered and sealed with plastic to prevent the spread of the dust to other locations in the home or other spaces.  Special masks and gloves approved for the removal of asbestos should be used at all times including disposable work clothing which can be safely discarded at the end of each day.  

During home asbestos removal it is important to limit traffic of persons or pets and maintain a controlled environment with access only to the trained technicians.  Surface cleaning of the dust should be done with a dampened cloth to capture the fibres and the cloth should be carefully disposed of afterwards.  Removal of individual pieces of asbestos should be done in large sections to avoid excessive breaking up of the material and release of fibres into the air.

Given the importance of safe material handling, the severe health consequences and the strict legislation that governs asbestos it is best to consult with a licensed professional for your home asbestos removal requirements.