Healthy Homes by AmeriSpec provides professional residential asbestos testing services. If you think you may have asbestos in your home, we are here to help.
What is asbestos?
There are several minerals commonly known as asbestos, and that are used to make products strong, long lasting and fire resistant. Before 1990, asbestos was mainly used for insulating buildings and homes against cold weather and noise. It was also used for fireproofing, and in construction products such as cement and plaster; furnaces and heating systems; building insulation; floor and ceiling tiles; house siding; and in some motor vehicle transmission and brake components.
Due to its unique characteristics, asbestos has been used for a wide variety of materials for approximately 4,500 years. It is heat, chemical, and wear resistant, and is an excellent heat and electrical insulator. Today, chrysotile asbestos is mainly used in applications where it is encapsulated, such as in concrete and in vehicle brake lining and clutch facings.
How does the presence of asbestos in your home affect you?
Once inhaled, asbestos particles stay in the lungs for long periods of time and can cause cancer and other diseases such as asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe, and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity.
From approximately 1930 to 1980, asbestos was widely used in residential construction applications: in insulation (pipe and duct wrap, and unintentionally in vermiculite); floor and ceiling tiles; acoustical plaster; shingles; other roofing materials; and exterior siding. Although these types of materials are no longer used in modern construction, they may still be present in older homes and cause health risks.
There are no significant health risks if materials containing asbestos in your home are tightly bound in products and are in good condition, sealed behind walls and floorboards, or isolated and left undisturbed. However, you can be exposed to asbestos when a home or building is being renovated or demolished, or in particular situations when there is the potential for existing asbestos particles to become friable (damaged).
How can asbestos testing in your home help?
Laboratory testing is required to absolutely confirm or deny the presence of asbestos in building materials in your home. Testing for the presence of asbestos is outside the scope of a basic home inspection, but can be completed as part of a Healthy Homes by AmeriSpec Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) assessment.
Once asbestos testing has been performed and a material in the home is proved to contain asbestos, it should be professionally analyzed, and if in damaged condition, asbestos removal should only be done by a professional asbestos abatement contractor.
Asbestos testing is advised if:
- You are planning any renovations, remodeling, demolitions, or additions to your home
- If you have vermiculite-based insulation containing asbestos in your attic
- You are planning to disturb or remove insulation that contains asbestos, including insulation around hot water pipes and tanks
- You are planning to remove or disturb roofing shingles or siding containing asbestos
- You are planning to any of the following:
- sanding, breaking apart or scraping vinyl asbestos floor tiles, soundproofing ceiling tiles containing asbestos, or plaster containing asbestos, including acoustical plaster
- sanding or scraping older surface treatments containing asbestos, such as: roofing compounds like tar paper; spackling; sealants; paint; putty; caulking; drywall
What to expect from an asbestos test in your home
Here’s what you can expect when you book an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) test and Environmental Assessment with Healthy Homes by AmeriSpec:
- A comprehensive walk through and assessment by a qualified Healthy Homes by AmeriSpec technician, including a complete visual inspection of the home and key area(s) of concern
- Air, surface and dust samplings will need to be collected for asbestos testing, and laboratory testing will be conducted to absolutely confirm or deny the presence of asbestos
- After all testing and assessment procedures are completed, you will be provided with a detailed and easy-to-understand evaluation report
Important facts about asbestos in your home
- You can reduce your risk of exposure by hiring a professional to test for asbestos before doing any renovations or remodeling, demolitions, or additions.
- If asbestos is found, hire a qualified asbestos removal specialist to get rid of it before beginning work. Avoid disturbing asbestos materials yourself.
- Check with your provincial and territorial workplace safety authorities to find out the qualifications or certifications needed in your area.
- If you have vermiculite based insulation in your attic, it may contain asbestos. To avoid exposure to asbestos fibres, do not disturb vermiculite-based attic insulation in any way or attempt to remove it yourself. Make sure children are not allowed in the attic, and that the attic is not used for storage or any other use
- If you have vermiculite-based insulation in your attic, some may have fallen inside your walls over time. Therefore, you should seal cracks and holes with caulking around: window and door frames along baseboards
- Make sure professionals that are trained to handle asbestos are hired if you plan to remodel or renovate all cracks and holes in the ceiling of the rooms below the insulation are sealed caulking around light fixtures and the attic hatch is applied to prevent insulation from falling through
The first step towards having a healthy home is to have your indoor air quality professionally tested.
If you are concerned about asbestos in your home… don’t wait. Your health depends on it.