Summary: Dealing with asbestos: Learn how to detect asbestos in your home, deal with asbestos in your home and remove asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral and was used throughout the construction industry from 1950’s to the 1980’s. Asbestos fibers are very heat and flame resistant making it ideal as a fireproofing and insulating material.
Dangers and problems of asbestos
Asbestos fibres and dust are very dangerous if inhaled in high concentrations over a period of time. They can cause serious lung diseases including cancer. The symptoms of these diseases often do not appear for between 20-30 years after exposure.
Many people worry about asbestos, but if left undisturbed, it usually poses no problem. Care should be taken, however, to prevent the release of fibres and specialists need to be contacted if removal of the substance is required.
Some of the areas in your home where you may find asbestos include:
- Eaves, gutters and rainwater fall pipes
- Fire blankets
- Garage and shed roofs
- Linings for walls, ceilings and doors
- Insulation panels in some storage heaters
- Bath panels
- Central heating flues
- Loose asbestos packing between floors and in partition walls
- Floor tile
Asbestos in your home
It is hard to identify asbestos, but if you believe that you are living with asbestos:
- Do not panic, leave asbestos alone, it’s safe unless it’s damaged or disturbed.
- Never sand, drill or saw asbestos materials.
- Always seek professional advice before thinking of removing asbestos materials.
- Do not attempt to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or insulation board by yourself. These materials can only be safely removed by a licensed contractor.
Safety precautions when removing asbestos
If you do choose to remove the non-licensable asbestos materials yourself, you should take the following precautions:
- Wear a dust mask approved for asbestos.
- Wear a disposable overall.
- Keep other people away from the working area.
- Wet the material well with water containing a little washing up liquid; check that there is no potential for contact with electricity first.
- Always remove whole sheets or components; do not break them up.
- Place any loose or small items in strong plastic labelled bags and seal.
- Clean up all dust with a damp cloth and then seal it in a plastic bag whilst damp.
- Do not use a domestic vacuum cleaner as dust may pass through the filter.
When removing asbestos make sure it is disposed of separately from your normal household waste. Your local council usually offers facilities that you can use to dispose of hazardous waste. Contact your local council for further details.
Asbestos top tips
- Asbestos containing materials in good condition are not a health risk and should be left alone.
- Never sand, drill or saw objects which may contain asbestos such as textured ceiling coatings, floor tiles or asbestos cement roofs.
- Common places where asbestos could be found include floor tiles, toilet cisterns, textured ceiling coatings, asbestos cement roofs, soffit boards and linings of boiler cupboards.
- Always seek professional advice from your local authority or an accredited asbestos removal company before thinking of removing asbestos materials.
- Always make sure you have the correct personal protection equipment including:
- Properly fitted mask to the standards EN149 (type FFP3) or EN1827 (type FMP3).
- Overalls and boot covers – most home improvement stores will stock these.
- If you are doing DIY in your own clothes, remove them carefully to avoid excess dust and wash straight away, separately from other clothing, in a washing machine. Make sure you use a mask whilst dealing with them.
- If you are working with asbestos materials always dampen down the surface to avoid producing dust.
- Don’t smoke, eat or drink in the work area.
- If you disturb asbestos do not use a domestic vacuum cleaner as dust may pass through the filter – hire a special (Class H) industrial vacuum cleaner that complies with British Standards – Look up ‘asbestos safety equipment hire’ on the internet for where to find one.
- Do not put asbestos waste in the dustbin – seek advice from the council about how to safely dispose of it.
- For more information go to www.lunguk.org or call the British Lung Foundation helpline on 08458 50 50 20.
- Joining pipes
- Removing an air lock in a water pipe
- Tap repairs
- Burst pipe
- Self cutting taps
- How to cut pipe
- Covering a flat roof
- Fitting a roof window
- Flashing repairs
- Downpipe repairs