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Should I Test for Asbestos Before I Begin My Home Renovation Project?

Posted on May 20, 2013

H2 Environmental can help you test any materials that may be disturbed during your renovation project

Home RenovationBefore you start your next home renovation project, stop to consider whether your project might involve disturbing any materials that might contain asbestos. If you have even the slightest concern that you may have asbestos in the area under renovation, you should definitely get professional asbestos testing before beginning work. After all, asbestos is such a dangerous contaminant that it really is a case of better safe than sorry.

Asbestos Risk Factors

Because most types of asbestos-containing materials were banned by the EPA in 1979, owners of new homes and businesses typically don’t need to worry about encountering asbestos-containing materials during a renovation project. Even though many aspects of the ban were overturned in 1991, asbestos use still declined dramatically and it is unlikely that you have asbestos in a newer home. If you do, the material should contain less than 1 percent asbestos under new laws.

If, however, your home was built before 1989, it is highly likely that some of the building materials contain high levels of asbestos and could pose a danger if disturbed. In this case, testing is a very good idea.

Types of Asbestos-Containing Materials

The whole reason that so much asbestos ended up in homes and businesses is that asbestos is a very effective fire retardant. This naturally-occurring mineral was ideal for all sorts of applications involving heat, such as insulation for pipes or electrical wiring. Asbestos is also commonly found in older floor and ceiling tiles, roofing materials, paint, and cement. If your renovation project involves disturbing any of these types of materials, and you know that the materials date back to the heyday of asbestos use, you should get professional asbestos testing.

Project Parameters

Removing asbestos is serious business. The EPA only recommends having asbestos removed if it is already damaged, or will become damaged in the course of a renovation. If you can complete your renovation project without disturbing any materials that might contain asbestos, you can get away with skipping the testing. For example, instead of tearing up floor tiles that might contain asbestos, you could seal them to encapsulate all the asbestos fibers and then apply new flooring on top.

If, however, your project involves tearing out old materials completely, testing will be necessary. This is especially true if you are working near ventilation systems, as you would not want to risk inadvertently releasing asbestos fibers into the ventilation system and spreading them throughout your entire house.

Getting Asbestos Testing

Remember that asbestos testing must be done by a technician and a lab specifically authorized to perform this service. You should not try to take samples on your own, as you could end up contaminating your home or breathing in asbestos fibers in the process. Leave sampling and testing to the pros! Be sure to check the licenses and certifications of whichever contractor you choose to make sure that you can depend on them to provide accurate asbestos testing services.

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