Many people enjoy the challenge of remodeling an older home. Older homes have a certain level of charm and craftsmanship that is hard to duplicate by modern standards. Older homes are also more likely to contain asbestos.
Asbestos was common in homes as a fire retardant from the 1920′s to the late 1970′s. It was cheap and placed in ductwork and in walls and attics as insulation. Asbestos became even more common as homeowners began to add central heating systems. It is harmful because when its fibers become airborne, it can cause serious health problems. A mesothelioma lawyer can help with legal recourse if you have suffered the ill effects of asbestos.
Where Can Asbestos Hide?
Asbestos by itself is not hazardous to your health. Tearing or decay can damage the fiber when its particles become airborne and inhalation is dangerous. If you have an older home, be on the lookout for asbestos fibers in the following areas:
- Around hot water pipes, water heaters and boilers – these are harmless if left undisturbed, but can present problems if removed without proper precaution
- Heat duct insulation – asbestos was used in older homes to wrap heat ducts
- Roof shingles – asbestos was combined with cement and used to make roofs fire resistant
- Certain floor tiles and acoustical ceiling tiles – it is difficult to tell with the naked eye whether these contain asbestos, but sanding them or breaking them apart may release particles into the air
Common household items may contain asbestos as well, such as old ironing board covers, potholders and stovetop pads. You may need these items to absorb heat and the older ones may have asbestos. If you do not cut or rip them, they should be fine. You may want to replace them just to be safe.
As mentioned above, the mere presence of asbestos does not present a hazard. In older homes, use extreme care when doing demolition or remodeling. If you think an area may contain asbestos, spray the surface with a mixture of water and dish soap. Wear long sleeves, gloves, pants and a hat. Asbestos fibers are so small and inhalation is easy. A breathing mask may not provide adequate protection.
If it is too late and you have experienced health problems that you think are asbestos related,contact an experienced asbestos attorney for help.