For many homeowners this is the time of year for a little home improvement. For some it is a small scale surface upgrade like a fresh coat of paint and a new front door. For others it is a massive, structural undertaking which often includes a partial to full remodel, removing whole sections of the home or adding an entire new portion of livable space. Wherever your home falls in this spectrum of options there are many things to be aware of before you begin this journey .
While there are a myriad of possible issues to cover, the big focus for many is the discovery of the ill fated Asbestos. There are fewer issues that will bring construction to a grinding halt like Asbestos so we ask many questions like, what is it ? Where did it come from and why was it used? What do you do if Asbestos is discovered in your home? Lastly, what’s next?
First, what is Asbestos? Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring silicate minerals comprised of thin microscopic fibers. It offers heat and chemical resistance, fire-proofing and strength. As a result of these qualities, it was a popular additive to many building products. Asbestos is found in naturally occurring deposits around the world. Mainly in the U.S Asbestos is found in western states and eastern coastal areas.
For the history we look back many decades to understand. Asbestos mining was prominent from the 1900’s with the last Asbestos mine closed in 2002. While Asbestos mines are no longer operational in the U.S., other countries continue to mine the mineral. Although Asbestos is not fully banned in the U.S., homes built after 1980 are far less likely to contain Asbestos. However, large portions of the materials containing Asbestos were used well into the 1990’s therefore still leaving the possibility that it exists within your walls. It is also known that this material can still be imported under certain restrictions. Asbestos fibers were frequently used in many products, including cement, insulation, sealants and tiles. Most commonly found in construction materials and fireproofing products. Despite studies finding varying risks associated with different types of Asbestos, it is widely deemed that all types are dangerous and generally leading a path to Mesothelioma and other types of cancer and illnesses.
Now, if you are faced with the discovery of Asbestos you are probably asking yourself and your construction foreman, what’s next? This issue will require a solution before any further progress is made. It is imperative that as a homeowner you understand the severity of this material. Individuals should never handle, move or dispose of these materials on their own. Asbestos abatement professionals are trained and certified in the identification, handling and disposal of the material. Asbestos materials require specific packaging and labeling before any disposal can be made. The home will be inspected and assessed by trained professional specialists.
Finally, after all is said and done with the abatement, the good news is that there are many alternatives to this material with similar properties and far less health effects. Once the identification and solution have been executed, the progress can continue and the remodel moves on.