Asbestos Hazards in Older Homes (Pre 1990)

What are the products and areas containing asbestos impregnated materials in older homes? Typically asbestos is found in buildings constructed prior to 1990 in attic and wall vermiculite insulation (see also our page on vermiculite), ceiling texture spray, some acoustic ceiling tile, plaster, drywall mud, some linos and vinyl flooring, occasionally exterior shingle type siding, furnace duct joint tape, floor heat vent wrap, old furnace gaskets, boiler piping etc. Not all these products necessarily contained asbestos but care should be taken if renovations are being considered because costs can be affected if it includes asbestos abatement. Even older drywall sheeting is no longer accepted at the regular dump sites in Victoria B.C. and area but will require special costs and consideration for disposal.

How dangerous then are these homes and these products? Almost all these products have encapsulated asbestos only. In other words any asbestos found in these items is bound up in the base substance of these materials during manufacturing. The only concern with asbestos is when it is free to float in the air (friable) and is then able to be breathed in. Depending on duration of exposure, susceptability (smokers, children ) etc., it can cause disease in the lungs. Provided these source materials are not broken up or cut with power tools, the asbestos should remain bonded to the parent material and so not be a cause for concern.

As a Home Inspector, my chief concern with asbestos –  is the asbestos wrap found around furnace hot air vents where they penetrate the floor, introducing a raw edge of asbestos into the air stream (see picture below); and also any loose asbestos found in the furnace or boiler piping systems. Vermiculite is not a concern according to Health Canada provided the upper ceilings are well sealed and the product remains undisturbed in the attic (see link below), but consideration must be given to future implications in the sale of the home and possible costs incurred if removal is deemed necessary.

Some Asbestos Testing and Lab links  sky environmental   Pacific EHS                [email protected] 
Some Asbestos Removal Contractor Links         www.removall.ca     www.hazpro.org
Hartland Dump     www.crd.bc.ca/service/waste-recycling/hartland-landfill-facility/asbestos
Health Canada Link   http://healthycanadians.gc.ca

Note: Fleetwood Building Inspections does not recommend nor endorse these or any other contractors but offers these links as a sampling of services available in the Victoria area. (Fleetwood does not inspect for asbestos but will indicate the likely presence of such, if discovered during a home inspection)
(click on pictures to enlarge)

Asbestos Siding is not especially harmful unless your going to renovate. Future buyers though may have concerns.

Asbestos Siding is not especially harmful unless you are going to renovate. Future buyers though may have concerns.

Loose asbestos around a floor heating vent can send asbestos fibres in to the air throughout the house

Loose asbestos around a floor heating vent can send asbestos fibres into the air throughout the house

Most older houses will have some asbestos to contend with

Most older houses will have some asbestos to contend with