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How to Test for Asbestos Before Buying A House

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Test for Asbestos

There’s no place like home, which is why it is super-important to ensure that your new house is safe enough for you to spend a big part of your life in it. This safety check isn’t just limited to looking out for rodents or household mold. Leftover material from old houses might contain particles that could pose severe risks to your health. If those particles are asbestos, the stakes could be life-threatening.

If you’re buying an older home, it’s a good idea to get an asbestos test done first. However, it was eventually discovered that inhaling asbestos might cause significant health problems. It could even pose a risk for something as serious as cancer. Thankfully, asbestos got banned in most countries around 1989. So, there is a possibility that houses built before 1990 could still contain this hazardous material. Continue reading to learn how you can test for asbestos and proceed with the necessary precautions.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a chemical fiber material employed as a flame-retardant in properties built before 1990. It is being used in some parts of the world to date in automobiles and various other implications. Asbestos products were commonly used in ceilings, flooring, water pipes, walls, etc. The entire 20th century revolved around research conducted to unravel the possible health hazards of asbestos exposure. Warnings for cancer risk got rolled out from 1942. Asbestos is also the primary risk factor to cause mesothelioma, fatal cancer. The life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is only 12 months after diagnosis; click here to learn more about its symptoms. It’s a rare type of cancer, and there is no cure for it as yet.

How Does Asbestos Become A Hazard?

Most people would question that if asbestos was so endangering to health, why is it so frequently used worldwide even today? The truth is, the material doesn’t pose health risks until it is air-borne. It can only enter the air if it gets old, damaged, eroded, or disturbed in any way. Bear in mind that asbestos particles do not have taste or smell, so you will not find out upon inhaling. That is why it is advisable to make these checks before moving in. Be mindful of water pipes that might contain asbestos cement material. Asbestos isn’t just a problem if you inhale it. It can enter your system via drinking water too.

How To Check For Asbestos Before Moving In:

A visual inspection may not be sufficient to uncover any asbestos usage in the house. Here’s all you need to know:

  1. Take Precautionary Measures:

During the initial visits to your house, particularly the first, wear a respirator mask and maintain a six-foot distance from walls. It’s not just the asbestos you should be careful about but household mold too. Do not take extra people along, especially someone who has asthma or other breathing problems. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Call A Professional:

As mentioned earlier, asbestos is only harmful when deteriorated or disturbed. So if you discover some of it in your house, do not try to remove it or cover it yourself. Instead, call for professional help. It is tough to identify asbestos by sight. An accredited asbestos professional will take samples of suspected material and send them to a lab for testing. Meanwhile, limit access to that area. Make it off-limits for everyone.

  1. Send Samples For Lab Testing:

There are two approved tests to identify asbestos material: Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Find a certified laboratory to conduct these tests and wait for the results. Halt any renovation or repairing processes until then. If asbestos gets drilled into, it can transform into millions of dust particles.

Places To Be Mindful Of When Testing For Asbestos :

Since asbestos was mainly for insulation purposes, it can be present nearly everywhere in an old house. Keep an eye out for insulation boards in walls, bathroom tiles, flooring, vinyl tiles, behind the fireplace, cupboards, fuse box, ceiling, water pipes, cement water tank, etc. Asbestos can also be on the exterior of the house. Some common places would be the gutters, cement roofs, window panels, etc.

What To Do If Asbestos Is Present In The House?

It is not always necessary to remove any asbestos found in the house. Asbestos material in good condition will not render any harm. Nevertheless, to avoid future instability, encapsulation will do the job. Even then, you must be careful during renovation or refurbishment. Asbestos material must not be drilled, scraped, or sawed. However, if you find ‘friable’ asbestos (crumbled or powdery) in your home, it must immediately be removed or covered.  For that, you’ll need to contact a team of professionals who are well-trained in dealing with asbestos. Ensure that the team has a license since an untrustworthy one must not deal with something as hazardous as asbestos. Many home remodeling companies do not have the proper certification to deal with it. Therefore, don’t hire them.

How Much Do Asbestos Repairs Cost?

It merely depends on the size of the house and how much asbestos has been used in it. If you discover asbestos before purchasing the property, you can get a better price for it. The saved cost can be invested into repairs to get the asbestos removed or covered. On average, asbestos removal costs nearly $2000. Refurbishing the entire place to be asbestos-free can even cost up to $30,000. However, sealing or covering asbestos can cost much less. But then again, it depends on the size of the house and the condition of asbestos in it. An accredited professional can give you a more accurate quote after a house inspection.

Read Also: Ant Control 101: How to Identify Common Types of House Ants (and How to Get Rid of Them!)

Wrapping Up

Asbestos isn’t something to be disregarded when you’re purchasing a property. Taking no notice of it can bring about serious health issues for the tenants. Mesothelioma is incurable cancer caused by asbestos dust. Don’t expose your family to something that could be fatal. Conduct a house inspection before making the final decision. Take along a professional who can take samples of suspected asbestos material. Could you not do it yourself? For your safety, avoid touching or approaching walls. If the test is positive, you should contact an asbestos-certified crew to encapsulate or remove any asbestos before moving in or starting renovations.

James Smith is the writer for Munchkin Press. He is a young American writer from California and is currently traveling around the world. He has a passion for helping people and motivates others.

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