Asbestos Hazards When Renovating Older Homes

As a homeowner…and one who’s quite handy around the house…it’s likely tempting to “do it yourself” when it comes to projects that need tackling but might cost a lot of money if they are subbed out to a professional.

Asbestos Hazards When Renovating Older HomesMany handy homeowners tackle a myriad of repairs and rehabs each year, especially during the summer months, simply because they love doing these things or because it’s more cost effective.

Those who are truly interested in DIY home renovation likely know about the dangers of asbestos. Or, at least, they think they do.

But asbestos hazards when renovating older homes, especially homes that were built prior to about 1980. And one can never be quite sure where the dangers lie because it can crop up in a million different places.

And the danger doesn’t end when contractors come in to do the work. Often, they are surprised by the presence of asbestos as well.

Consider the story of “Annie”, which was recently profiled on a local news station in Amherst, New York. Annie is a homeowner in that town, living in an older house that could potentially include a variety of asbestos-containing materials.

Annie told the news station that a simple plumbing repair turned into an asbestos nightmare for her family. When plumbers arrived to make repairs after a pipe burst, they began to poke around the area and found asbestos not in the pipe insulation, as was suspected, but in the drywall tape on the walls that had to be cut through in order to access the pipe.

Luckily, Annie’s contractor took time to test for asbestos. Nonetheless, she and her family had to spend time in a hotel while the work was completed, an asbestos abatement contractor had to be hired at a sizeable cost, and the area had to be carefully cleaned so that no asbestos remained when the family returned to their home.

Jeffrey Haynes, president of Fibertech Environmental Services, told the Amherst television station that people living in homes built prior to 1980 who are intending to do DIY work this summer should just assume that the old drywall tape or joint compound in their house does indeed include asbestos.

It was the norm for decades and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s likely present. That could mean the need to hire an abatement professional before starting any work that might disturb the material.

Haynes suggested DIYers think twice before tackling projects that involve disturbing asbestos, even if just a little bit. He also suggests that those trying their hand at home improvement projects on older homes ALWAYS wear a mask or respirator and that they look for one that is sufficient to halt the inhalation of tiny asbestos fibers.

Furthermore, those who enlist the help of friends or family members for projects this summer – or anytime – should be sure that those individuals are protected as well.

If they’re not and they are sickened due to exposure to asbestos, the individual responsible for the exposure could eventually be held responsible.