How Do I Know If Asbestos Is In My House?

You’ve heard about the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, and you’ve started to worry that there is asbestos in your home. The idea that a carcinogenic substance is lurking in your house is sinister—no one wants their loved ones to live with a silent killer. 

Before it was banned, asbestos was commonly used for many reasons:

  • It brings down the cost of purchasing building materials for a home.
  • It’s a strong heat insulator, which increases the efficiency of HVAC systems.
  • It’s abundant in many countries.
  • It resists water, chemicals, and electricity.
  • It offers fire protection to increase the safety of a home.
  • Some types of asbestos are flexible, which makes it useful for fabrics.

However, all these benefits are outweighed by a single, terrible issue: exposure to asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses. This was discovered in the early 1900s when asbestos production was at its peak.

Unfortunately, when people found out how versatile and resilient this mineral was, it led to the mass production and widespread use of asbestos-containing products. Are you concerned that there could be asbestos in your home? We’ve identified the areas where you may find asbestos and what you can do about it.

 

Common Places Where Asbestos Was Used

If your home was built before 1990, certain building materials in it may contain asbestos. It’s surprising and unsettling to discover that asbestos may be present in all sorts of areas in your house. Here are a few of the most common spaces of concern:

 

Roof shingles

Before asbestos was banned for most residential purposes, many roofs were made with asbestos. It’s found in old asphalt and cement shingles, as well as sealants and flashing. If your home has old shingles, it’s safest to assume that they contain asbestos.

 

Ceiling and floor tiles

Most of us are familiar with the popcorn ceilings that rose to popularity in the 1950s. It was tough to find a home that didn’t have this trendy stippled style. Popcorn ceilings hid any damage and even offered noise proofing (the raised bumps increase the surface area). But once consumers realized that most contained asbestos, their usage greatly declined. However, not all popcorn ceilings have asbestos—a modern home will use a different material for the effect.

Asbestos is also found in many vinyl tiles; it was even used in the adhesive that secured tiles to the floor. Are you thinking about changing the flooring in your home? Contact a professional for asbestos testing before removing the old tiles yourself.

 

Steam pipes

Water and steam pipes in a home used to be insulated with asbestos; it was inexpensive, easy to find, and effective. If you are redoing any plumbing in your home, it’s important to be aware that there may be asbestos material around the pipes. Be sure to alert your plumber if this is the case. 

Asbestos may not be a danger if the insulation is completely contained, but any cracks in the wall may allow asbestos fibers to become airborne in your home.

 

Insulation

Asbestos-containing materials were often used to insulate pipes or a home. It was one of the most common uses for the mineral, which made insulation a common source of exposure. Due to heat, water, or pest damage, the asbestos fibers may become airborne. 

Vermiculite is a mineral that often contains asbestos fibers. It was used to insulate attics. When renovating your home, take caution when working with insulation; removing it may release asbestos fibers into the air. 

 

Automobile parts

Many of us know that asbestos was used when constructing a home, but did you know that it was also popular in the automobile industry? Many car manufacturers used asbestos for heat resistance. If you or someone in your home enjoys working on cars in the garage, you could be inhaling asbestos fibers unknowingly. Components that may contain asbestos include:

  • Brakes
  • Gaskets
  • Clutches
  • Insulation
  • Hood liners
  • Mufflers

 

It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to asbestos in your home. Make sure to contact a professional whenever you are removing drywall, insulation, or other building materials in an older home.

Are you concerned that you may be suffering from exposure to asbestos in the home? Symptoms typically don’t manifest for several years, but signs of asbestos exposure include:

  • A dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wide, round fingers (clubbed fingers)
  • Other respiratory issues

 

Check Your Home For Tears & Damage Where Asbestos Might Be

If asbestos is undisturbed or properly contained, it may not pose a health hazard to people in your house. However, performing renovations or other upgrades may result in asbestos exposure. This may also occur if the material deteriorates, as is the case with insulation near furnaces or pipes. Abrasion causes asbestos fibers to become airborne. 

Water damage may cause materials to deteriorate and create tears or gaps. When they dry, the exposed asbestos fibers could be inhaled by those in your home. Making holes in drywall or tearing out floor tiles can disturb this lethal material. 

It’s incredibly difficult to detect asbestos with your eyes alone. Even worse, the material has no distinct smell. What you can do is narrow down potential areas where it may be, like the materials we mentioned above. 

If you live in an older home, or you’re considering purchasing one, the best way to protect yourself and your family against asbestos fibers is to schedule a home assessment with a specialist. They can identify potential asbestos exposure areas and work carefully to minimize the risk of a health hazard. We do not advise property owners to attempt to remove this material from their house on their own, as that could put their health at great risk.

 

Get Asbestos Testing Done By Professionals

The most harrowing fact of asbestos exposure is that it may cause diseases (such as mesothelioma and lung cancer) that are untreatable once they progress to the later stages. Symptoms may not manifest for 10-20 years (and sometimes longer), so you might not realize that there is asbestos in your home until it’s too late.

Are you concerned that your home could contain asbestos? We offer asbestos testing services for your home or business. Use testing to determine if you need to take extra precautions during a renovation. One of our specialists can analyze a sample to see if it contains any asbestos fibers. We offer this testing service free of charge. If asbestos is detected, we can move forward with a detailed assessment. 

If test results show that you could be exposed to asbestos in your home, you need Winnipeg asbestos removal. We ensure the safe disposal of any contaminated floor, ceiling tiles, or roofing material with each project that we take on. Call us today to keep the people in your home safe from asbestos fibers.