Ah… the many faces of clients, agents and most anyone else that has ever seen or heard the word asbestos when it comes to an inspection report.
Sure, asbestos is and can be harmful and should always be acknowledged when it’s observed during a home inspection, but what is asbestos? What makes it harmful? What conditions do inspectors look for and what should we convey to our clients?
First off we should talk about what asbestos is and where it’s most likely to be observed during a home inspection. Asbestos is a mineral that can be modified into fibers. These fibers are strong and heat resistant, which made them appealing in the manufacturing world. While most people think asbestos is banned in the United States, it isn’t. It’s still used in many different products. Some products where we, home inspectors, see the potential of asbestos products are; fiber-cement tiles, sleeves, tape or spray on HAVC ductwork, some vinyl tiles and even attic insulation. This material was highly used in homes from the 1930’s to 1950’s, but was used more sparingly up to late 1970’s, at which time it was banned from being used in residential building materials.
Now that we have an idea on what products in the home could possibly be of asbestos material, let’s talk about what we look for and what to do if you have any of these materials in your home. Asbestos has been around for a long time and is common place in older homes, but while in a solid, protected or contained state, it is harmless. Take the HVAC ductwork in the above picture. This appears to be typical asbestos type sleeve used during the era of the home that was inspected. When inspecting this material we look for a condition which is referred to as being ”friable”. Friable just means can the material be crumbled by hand, is it easily broken up creating loose fibers or dusting that can make it into the air at which point it could enter a person through skin or by breathing. The most causes for this condition are vermin or other pests, so if you live in a home with asbestos materials in the attic, you should have your home treated and inspected yearly for areas where critters such as squirrels, opossums and even birds have no way to gain access. If you see any, have them removed quickly. They love making bedding out stuff they find in attics.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and we hope that we have made it insightful. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us!
- This is not a comprehensive list of materials, defects and or hazards. Please refer to https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/learn-about-asbestos for additional information.