Old homes have tons of character and charm, but they can also come with a ton of problems. One of those is hidden asbestos. Once widely used (and even required) as a component in different building materials because of its fire-resistant properties, asbestos is now understood to be a dangerous carcinogen that can cause mesothelioma and other illnesses once those little fibers get caught in people's lungs.
Before you renovate or get busy with repairs on your vintage home, it's smart to consider whether asbestos might be lurking in these spots:
In Your Insulation: Asbestos was once a very popular choice for insulation in walls and attics. Insulation materials such as vermiculite, blown-in insulation, and loose-fill cellulose are particularly worth investigating because they all contained asbestos in the past.
In Your Floor Tiles: Another potential source of asbestos lies in the floor tiles, particularly in your kitchen or basement. Crumbling old linoleum or vinyl tiles may have a thin veneer of asbestos on them that makes them dangerous.
Around Your Pipes: Insulation wraps and tapes made with asbestos were used to protect pipes from heat loss or condensation. Any deteriorating or damaged pipe insulation should be handled with caution, as it can release asbestos fibers into the air.
In Those Popcorn Ceilings: Popcorn or textured ceilings aren't just an unsightly "blast from the past," but an actual health hazard. The textured material was often partially made from asbestos fibers because they helped add strength and made the material fire-resistant.
Around Your Heating Systems: Insulation on heating ducts, boiler jackets, and furnace linings could easily contain asbestos, even if no other area of your home is a concern. If those insulation wraps are starting to decay, that can be particularly hazardous.
In Your Roofing Materials: This isn't technically inside your home, but it is still concerning. Roofs made of asbestos-cement sheets, shingles, or corrugated panels can pose a health risk if they become damaged or deteriorated, allowing asbestos fibers to become airborne.
Ideally, you want to get any remaining asbestos out of your home, but this is no "do-it-yourself" kind of home repair. Asbestos is most dangerous when it's handled or removed because that can throw tiny fibers of the mineral into the air where it can be breathed in by anybody around. For safety and efficiency, you need to contact an asbestos removal service to handle the job. They also have the right tools to do a safe evaluation of any suspect materials you happen to find in your home.
Contact a local company to learn more, like Asbestos Inspections Inc. DBA Capital Abatement.