Having asbestos removed from a property, just because it is asbestos, is common and quite understandable because asbestos is an emotive subject and because of the common knowledge as to the health risks associated with the material.
It is difficult to explain to people that removing the material creates more risk than is necessary, because it is planned disturbance and unless the very strict control measures are in place to contain the airborne fibres, exposure and invisible contamination could result.
Don’t take the word of a ‘helpful’ builder, plumber, friends mate or neighbor’s cat, asbestos is such a huge subject and the risk of exposure is not worth relying on the word of someone with very limited knowledge of it.
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s the ‘safe’ sort when it’s not - AIB is AIB and Cement is Cement.
If disturbed, one (AIB) will give you heavy dose of lethal fibres, the other (cement) will not.
If the material is in the way of building or refurbishment work there is more chance of you being told it’s ok, just so the work can continue. Stand your ground and get it checked out by someone who knows what they are talking about, it usually doesn’t cost anything and you could save yourself a lot of grief later!
Domestic surveys and sampling are not yet a legal requirement of the asbestos regulations, unless it is the communal areas of rented accommodation or council housing stocks.
Domestic surveys / sampling are usually requested by people buying a house who note that asbestos was mentioned in the building survey and are concerned that it is either dangerous or will cost a lot of money to remove. Mortgage and insurance companies have also requested asbestos surveys for similar reasons.
Most asbestos materials in domestic properties are quite safe and should be left alone unless the material is likely to be disturbed by refurbishment work to the property.
Most domestic asbestos surveys or reports are only a couple of pages and detail the type of material and asbestos content, based on the inspection and/or analysis. Removal is only recommended when the material is in very bad condition or going to be disturbed during planned refurbishment work.
Because asbestos was used in many different building materials, it is quite common to find it in houses, bungalows, flats etc...which were built before 1990.
Many materials are not easily recognised as containing asbestos, because of the different reasons it was used in materials, sometimes for strength, sometime for flexibility and sometimes and most commonly for its fire protection and insulation properties.
Most are low risk; some may be high risk but you need to know the difference to deal with it and manage it.
Some of the asbestos materials commonly found in houses are; basement pipework, basement ceilings, basement fire doors, fire protection of basement stairwell, fire door to basement, bitumen damp course, vent lining in walls, asbestos cement outer walls, cement downpipes, cement tiles on canopy, AIB entrance soffit, AIB main soffit, asbestos cement guttering, asbestos floor tiles and bitumen adhesive, asbestos paper carpet backing, AIB fire doors, Artex and textured coatings, AIB door surrounds, AIB ceiling boarding, asbestos cement ceiling boarding, AIB ceiling tiles, asbestos cement boiler flue, AIB electric fire plinth and rear panel, AIB fireplace infill panel, asbestos cement inner walls, AIB garage ceiling, AIB garage walls, AIB lining of under stair cupboard including door, heating system pipe insulation throughout, asbestos cement roof tiles and shingles, asbestos cement guttering, asbestos cement loft tanks, asbestos cement loft flues, bitumen roof felt, etc...
Asbestos Installation Board
It is sometimes difficult to convey to people that most asbestos materials in houses are extremely low risk, like floor tiles and cement sheeting, the fibers are so tightly trapped in the material than even when broken the material is not going to release much.
On the other side of the coin we have AIB and Artex (textured ceilings etc...) although Artex has a low asbestos content the most common method of removal is scraping which is very bad for asbestos materials because the act of removing thin layers of dry asbestos material increases the amount of fibers released with each scrape.
There are many other methods for removal that would reduce the risk to a more acceptable level or we would recommend over-boarding, skimming or removal of the whole ceiling rather than just the surface coating. AIB contains 30-40% Brown (Amosite) asbestos and when broken can release a huge amount of asbestos fibers, we always recommend that it is left alone wherever possible and should only be removed under strictly controlled conditions, this is where an honest appraisal will be of great benefit if a confirmation sample is required.
Domestic asbestos materials are not strictly governed by the regulations, it’s down to the individual to determine, which ‘expert’ to use, how safe they want to be and how much they want to spend on being safe.
It only takes a phone call to get the right answers
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Even if you don’t know anything about asbestos in houses, there is usually no need to worry, get a proper assessment now for safety and peace of mind.
- Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls, beams and columns
- Asbestos cement water tank
- Loose fill insulation
- Lagging on boilers and pipes
- AIB ceiling tiles
- Toilet seat and cistern
- AIB partition walls
- AIB panels in fire doors
- Asbestos rope seals, gaskets and paper
- Vinyl floor tiles
- AIB around boilers
- Textiles eg fire blankets
- Textured decorating coatings on walls and ceilings eg artex Outside
- Asbestos cement roof
- Asbestos cement panels
- Asbestos cement gutters and downpipes
- Soffits – AIB or asbestos cement
- Asbestos cement flue AIB = Asbestos Insulating Board