Asbestos is one of those dangers that we can’t see, and symptoms of asbestos exposure usually take 20 – 40 years to develop … but they’re usually 100% fatal. So, getting yourself some basic education now, might be very rewarding in a couple of decades …
#1. Transite pipe (non friable)- you can easily recognize one by removing the register cover in the slab section of your house. It looks like a cement pipe and will most likely have very rough, uneven edges around the opening (just like on the pictures). Those rough edges are one problem, another one is that Transite pipes are not flexible and often crack under or inside the slab creating more rough surfaces and airborne fibers. If you suspect your air ducts to be made out of asbestos containing cement – have a professional to take a sample and laboratory test it – this is the only full-proof way to determine if it contains asbestos and what kind of asbestos is it.Another Transite pipe application was the chimney flue, or its insulation. As an insulation performs well unless significantly deteriorated, falling apart (just like on the picture, which often happens if used on exterior, above the roof parts of the chimney).
Transite pipe used as a primary chimney flue, with no metal liner inside, creates a problem when it cracks, and starts leaking exhaust fumes into the attic or living area. Therefore, all vent pipes that pass through the house living areas and the attics are now required to be double-walled, galvanized metal, or Type-B, and I highly recommend replacing the Transite pipe and disposing of it correctly.
#2. Paper wrap insulation on heat vent flue pipes joints (friable) – when it comes to water heater or furnace replacement, its vent pipe might need to disassembled – if it is asbestos, this process should be done by a asbestos professional.
#3. Vermiculite insulation (friable)- is a silver-gold to gray-brown mineral that is flat and shiny in its natural state and puffed and dull in its expanded shape (EPA).
Tons of Vermiculite based material is still insulating the Chicago land homes, usually in the attics and wall cavities, some of it might be heavily contaminated with asbestos. This mineral was discovered near the town of Libby, Montana (Grace mine) in 1881, and mined between the early ’20s to the early ’90s (records indicate that 70 -80 percent of all vermiculite sold in the world during that time came from the contaminated Libby, Montana mine), and distributed under the name of “Zonolite”. With or without asbestos Vermiculite looks very much the same, and cannot be distinguished without laboratory testing. So if you recognize in your home material that looks like one of the pictures, make sure that you have it evaluated by a professional;
– don’t disturb it (vacuuming, sweeping, dusting)
– if sweeping / cleaning is necessary, wet it first to make sure that no dust is produced during this process
_ stop any remodeling process during which Vermiculite was discovered or which might cause Vermiculite disturbance.
#4. Sprayed on Textures Ceilings (friable)- some of us love it, many use it because it hides surface imperfections, and many more don’t like it. When it comes to remodeling you should test it for asbestos presence, because using a traditional scraping method will produce plenty of dust.
#5. Cement asbestos roofing and siding – no danger under normal conditions (non friable), but it could add several thousands of dollars to your remodeling or demolition project, when you’re faced with removing it.
#6. Fireproofing (friable and not friable) – asbestos containing panels of various types (some resembling cement boards, or thick, cardboard like paper), installed above the furnaces, surrounding furnace / water heater room, inside the furnaces and boilers (I’ve seen some inside the old forced air furnaces used a liner of a heat exchanger enclosure walls), as a furnace or water heater insulation.
Local law might require that you perform asbestos inspection when applying for a demolition or construction / remodeling permits, so check with them first.
Read Part One of Asbestos in Your Home.
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Dariusz is a licensed Illinois home inspector who has been in this business for ten years, crawling through the areas you’d newer expect that even exist in your house … just to let you now if everything is working properly.
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