Many Americans live in homes built during the mid-20th century. In fact, approximately 12% of houses were built before 1940 and a much higher percentage were built before 1980.
These homes need to be remodeled and upgraded to 21st century style. However, a concern for remodeling a home is the presence of asbestos.
A lot of homeowners attempt on their own to remodel their homes. Asbestos in many — if not all — of these homes presents a danger to anyone who tries to upgrade their house. Trying to remodel a home with asbestos is a risk for homeowners and other house inhabitants, including kids or family members.
Asbestos was used to construct and insulate buildings into the 1980s. Around that time, medical experts began revealing to the general public that asbestos could cause cancer. Most notably, asbestos exposure can lead to the rare cancer called mesothelioma.
Houses and buildings built before the 1970s are, as a rule, suspected to include asbestos somewhere within the structure. If you live in such a house, you’re probably curious where asbestos could be. More importantly, you’ll wonder if asbestos is currently exposed — or if it would be exposed during a renovation project.
Below are some tips for living in an older home and remodeling it.
Get the Help of Professionals
You should get help from professionals. Don’t try to remodel an old home with asbestos hiding on your own.
The only way to be certain any material in your home contains asbestos is to have it analyzed by specialists. There are professionals licensed to remove asbestos from buildings. Hire them.
Until then, you should treat all suspicious materials as if they contain asbestos. Since the carcinogenic fibers are microscopic, it is important not to disturb the material. When disturbed, the weightless fibers float in the air and can be swallowed or inhaled. Once they enter your body, there’s not much you can do to try and get rid of them. Either the body expels them naturally, or they become irritants and may cause tissue to become cancerous.
The risks of replacing asbestos containing materials are too great, so hiring a professional is the best plan of action.
Know All the Locations Asbestos Could Be
The rule of thumb is to assume asbestos could be anywhere. This is a rule of thumb because asbestos really was used in nearly every aspect of houses.
Asbestos is a fire-resistant and durable mineral. Application of asbestos helped protect insulation, floor tiles, ceiling tiles, home appliances, electrical wires and more from fire and heat damage.
Asbestos was also used in roof shingles, drywall, sheetrock, wallboards and support beams. So remodeling a home with asbestos is a minefield.
There could be other locations where asbestos was used in your home. Stay vigilant and take precautions before opening up walls, removing floor tiles, or replacing roof shingles.
Know How to Identify Asbestos
Asbestos is usually white or gray (sometimes blue) and comes in several different forms. It can be in the form of cement sheets, paper lining and plasters. Knowing where asbestos was commonly used and its appearance is important to avoid any potential health hazards caused by disturbing the asbestos.
There are a few types of asbestos. They have different appearances, so you should know how to identify each of them to be safe. The main colors to look for are white, dark brown, black, and blue.
Chrysotile asbestos is the most common and the type linked most often to mesothelioma cancer. Chrysotile asbestos is white in color and was part of manufacturing roof shingles, cement and more.
Amosite asbestos is dark brown and is sharp and needle-shaped. It was added to electrical insulation, cement, plumbing insulation, roof shingles, thermal insulation, tiles and more.
Crocidolite asbestos is blue and was also part of insulation and tiles. This is the other main type found in U.S. homes.
The other types of asbestos — tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite — are much rarer and hardly found in houses during remodeling work.
Knowing what asbestos looks like can help if you happen to notice it during renovation projects. Once it is identified, you can hire the appropriate specialists to remove the asbestos and safeguard your home.
We at Mesothelioma Guide advise you not to go looking for asbestos. It can be disturbed with the slightest touch, and even one sharp fiber entering your body can lead to mesothelioma.
Before remodeling a home with asbestos, consider the risks and look for professional help. If you think your home is contaminated with loose asbestos fibers, look for a temporary place for you and your family to live while professionals clean the property of the mineral.
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