Asbestos—the word alone is enough to send chills down any homeowner’s spine. But it wasn’t always that way. Contractors made materials containing highly toxic asbestos popular in home construction between the 1930s and 70s. Because asbestos was inexpensive and easy to acquire, manufacturers used it extensively and quite profitably, but the human price has been devastating.
Today, when it comes to asbestos and the real estate market, the presence of asbestos is not simply a matter of trying to negotiate a fair selling price. It’s a matter of life and death.
What is it?
Asbestos is a group of fibrous, heat-resistant minerals with properties that, among other things, make it an effective insulator. It was used in products to strengthen cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials. Building products that contain asbestos include flooring, ceiling, and roofing tiles, and insulation used in the basements, attics, and walls of homes and businesses.
Why is it hazardous?
When asbestos is disturbed, as is the case during a home renovation, it is released into the air as dust. When inhaled, it can accumulate in the lungs and cause pleuritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Trapped in the body as microscopic fibers, asbestos has been known to cause lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Frighteningly, sickness from asbestos—which cannot be seen, tasted or smelled—may take 20-50 years to develop. Once in the body, asbestos fibers are essentially there forever.
Thanks to greater consciousness about the dangers and heavy regulations, only small amounts (up to 1%) of asbestos may still be used in some U.S. building materials, such as roofing tiles and certain types of insulation. But for homes built before 1980 when there were no restrictions on its use, the presence of asbestos must be thoroughly checked and mitigated.
A typical home inspection, such as the 500-point roof-to-foundation examination performed by A-Pro Home Inspection, does not include an assessment of asbestos in the home. Professionals who are certified in asbestos inspection, such as those at A-Pro, offer this valuable service separate from the standard home inspection.
Here’s what takes place:
First, the age of the home will be the first clue that asbestos may be present. From there, a trained inspector will know the materials that are most likely to contain asbestos, including popcorn ceilings and ceiling tiles; wall and attic insulation; insulation around HVAC units, pipes and wires; carpet underlay, vinyl tiles, shingle and stucco siding; and some joint compounds, cements, caulks, and adhesives.
The scope of the inspection encompasses the entire home, most notably bathrooms, basements and attics, where material containing asbestos is most frequently discovered.
During the inspection, samples will carefully be collected and later sent to a certified laboratory for analysis. Should tests come back positive for asbestos, the inspector will detail where the asbestos is located and the degree of damage, as well as recommend a course of action. Once a contractor has completed remedying the asbestos problem, it is recommended to have the inspector return to recheck the home to see if the issue has been solved. A-Pro Home Inspection service is a proud provider of asbestos inspections.
To schedule an asbestos inspection at your convenience, contact your local A-Pro Home Inspection certified professional at 1-985-237-1388