Although most homeowners recognize the word asbestos as something that they should be concerned about, many don't have any idea how to recognize it or why it's cause for concern. If you've purchased a home and are new to things like asbestos concerns, it is important to know what you're watching for. Here is a look at what you should know about asbestos concerns, where it can be hiding and what to do if you find it.
Why Should You Worry About Asbestos?
Asbestos is a serious concern for homeowners because any significant exposure to it can lead to serious health concerns. In fact, even exposure to asbestos fibers in the air has been known to cause cancer as well as a condition known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is a serious concern, as it causes fibrous tissue scars on your lungs.
Where Might You Find Asbestos?
Most people only think about walls when they think of asbestos, but it is important to understand that it was used in many building materials because it was known for its insulating properties. Here are a few of the lesser known places you might find asbestos hiding in your home.
- Fire Prevention - Since asbestos is naturally flame resistant, it was commonly used in sprays made for fire prevention. The downside to this is that you may have asbestos content in the treatments applied to nearly every building surface in your home during the construction process. It may have been applied to things like structural beams, support braces and ceiling materials. If you have an older home, this is a definite possibility. The good news is that any asbestos-containing fire retardant would be covered by the drywall and remaining building materials.
- Flooring - Many older linoleum floor tiles contained asbestos on the backing. If your home has old linoleum that hasn't been replaced in many years, that's a key indication that you may have asbestos in the coating on the back of the tile. If this is the case, you risk asbestos exposure if you decide to replace the floor. In fact, even a single cut or tear in the backing of the floor tiles could release asbestos into the air in your home.
- Insulation - Another common source of asbestos is vermiculite insulation. It is often used in spaces like attics and crawl spaces. You can have the insulation in your home tested by an asbestos removal company to find out for sure if this is the case.
What Do You Do If You Find Asbestos?
If you find asbestos in your home, it's important that you avoid the affected area as much as possible. If it's limited to one section of the house, close that section off and seal it as best you can. Close doors to that part of the house and consider taping it off to keep the fibers out of the air system. If it's widespread, though, you may find that you want to stay somewhere off-site until you can have it addressed.
In addition, if you have identified any areas of your home that might contain asbestos, it's in your best interest not to disturb those materials. Avoid puncturing the walls, causing gouges in the flooring or disturbing the insulation in those spaces. The sooner you can have a professional come out and address it, the better it will be for you and your family.
As a new homeowner, you need to take the threat of asbestos seriously. With the tips here, you'll know where to look and what areas may potentially house asbestos in your home. Talk with an asbestos removal contractor about testing and remediation to clean up your home.