How to Test for Asbestos

  Asbestos is commonly beige-colored, although there are rare types that are colored blue or brown. Depending on the material that the asbestos was combined with, it can either be detected with ease or with difficulty. Asbestos is typically mixed with cement, starch, asphalt, polymers and other binders for different applications.

It is important that homeowners learn how to test for asbestos because this substance can be very dangerous. This fibrous material has strong fire-resistant properties, because of which it used to be a popular construction additive. In the late 1980s, however, after experts who knew how to test for asbestos conducted a series of research experiments, it was discovered that this substance posed very serious health risks. 

Asbestos, by itself, is not dangerous to the health. However, if the structure of a product formulated with asbestos is destroyed or altered, this can cause tiny asbestos fibers to be released into the air. When these are inhaled, they can cause numerous health problems for the inhabitants of the house even at low levels. 

Apart from learning how to test for asbestos, it is also important that you know where you are likely to find asbestos in your house. This way, you will know how to test for asbestos and what to do to treat them. Asbestos is typically found in the insulation of the house, its flooring and pipe lining, and in other parts and products known for their strength and resistance. 

Asbestos Testing

test for asbestos containing materialsThe importance of testing for asbestos is even magnified if you are looking to purchase an older house or building because it is most likely to have higher levels of asbestos. There are in fact certain US states where it is compulsory to test structures for asbestos. You also need to test, or at least hire a professional that knows how to test for asbestos, before you set out to remodel your existing house or structure, or when certain parts of the house are visibly damaged or exposed to the elements. 

Unfortunately, testing for asbestos is a technical undertaking. While handymen, electricians and plumbers may know asbestos when they see it, the only surefire way to find out exactly if asbestos is present is to get samples and send these to the laboratory for testing. There are suppliers that provide test kits to homeowners so they can collect samples themselves. Should you decide to do this yourself, you need to remember to take extra caution, which includes wearing a mask as you take some samples. 

So what happens when the laboratory test reveals that asbestos is indeed present in your house? In this case, you may need to get professional help from specialty contractors who can take out the asbestos from the affected areas. These professionals are bound to know the right way to handle the problem, and how to dispose of the asbestos properly and safely. Having asbestos removed by a professional can be expensive, but this is something that you cannot scrimp on. Aside from the fact that it is harmful to the health when handled improperly, asbestos is also an environmental hazard.  

So what parts of the house should you check for asbestos? Heating ductwork is a popular site for finding asbestos. Many ductworks, especially those installed before the 1980s, are made of asbestos. When this starts to corrode, the fibers that it contains are released into the house. Wrapped ducts are also not necessarily free of asbestos. You should have them removed if you see that the wrapping is already damaged. If it looks like you need to address the asbestos problem right away, as when the duct wrapping is heavily damaged, you can have it encapsulated first while you plan or save up for removal.


How to test for Asbestos 

Asbestos Removal Grant