Not much more I can say. Read the reviews here and elsewhere. Housecall comes up on top for home inspectors in San Diego. I work as a local Realtor and I use this company for all of my home inspections. They explain things clearly and my buyers appreciate that.        -  JP, San Diego

Blog Environmental Issues Asbestos and Home Inspection Awareness
Asbestos and Home Inspection Awareness
Environmental Issues
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As asbestos awareness among the general public continues to increase, more and more people are taking proactive steps to protect themselves and their families from these carcinogenic fibers.
asbestos workerFor many homeowners – particularly those whose residences built before the 1980s – one of these steps in protecting your family is arranging for a home inspection to test for sources of potential asbestos exposure.  Most people are aware that these older buildings can contain asbestos, but without an inspection, it is not possible to know which parts of their home is or is not contaminated with the fibers, which ones may pose threat to asbestos related cancers, or what to do to prevent exposure.

Asbestos in the Home

Because of its prevalence in construction products prior to government regulations, almost every home constructed before the 1980s is presumed to contain asbestos. The fibers were a common ingredient in the following products produced during that era:
  • Shingles and other roofing materials
  • Siding and insulation
  • Wallboard or Fiberboard
  • Tiles and tile adhesives (especially vinyl tiles)
  • Textured paint
  • Patching or joint compounds
  • Plumbing/pipes/ducts
Some or all of these products – plus hundreds more – may be potential sources of asbestos exposure in the home. As a general rule, homeowners should assume that any home built or renovated prior to 1980 may contains asbestos and as such, should be approached with caution when contemplating any additional construction activities.
 
Home inspections can help owners become aware of which specific materials in their home pose an asbestos threat and the special care that is recommended when handling these products.  

Friable vs. Non-Friable Asbestos

Asbestos products can be categorized as either friable or non-friable. Asbestos that has been encapsulated in home products is considered non-friable (not able to be crushed by the hand) as long as the products are in good condition and have not been disturbed. Non-friable asbestos products should generally be left alone to avoid possibly creating an asbestos hazard.
 
On the other hand, asbestos products that do pose an exposure threat are considered friable (readily crushed by human hands). These products have been disturbed in a way that loosened the individual asbestos fibers and potentially released them into the air.
 
Materials containing friable asbestos may appear cracked, chipped or otherwise worn down, but a visual evaluation cannot confirm a product’s status as friable or non-friable. Sampling and laboratory testing (both conducted during a standard home asbestos inspection) are required for a final ruling.
 
A number of activities can turn non-friable asbestos into friable asbestos. Any type of renovation work on a building has the potential to disturb asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and release the fibers into the air. Chipping away paint, scraping up tiles, removing old appliances, drilling through wallboard or sanding away asbestos compounds are all common ways that asbestos can been made friable during home renovations.
 
To avoid making non-friable asbestos friable during renovations, be sure to perform a home inspection before beginning any renovation if you suspect your home may contain ACM's.

What Happens During a Home Inspection?

During an asbestos inspection, a licensed asbestos inspector will come to your home and take samples of suspicious products. They will employ a number of techniques to prevent asbestos from being released into the air as they take the samples. This can include removing furniture from the area or spraying a water/detergent solution on the area to be tested (to reduce the likelihood of asbestos entering the airspace).
 
Asbestos cannot be identified by the naked eye so once samples have been taken, they must be sealed in an airtight bag and sent to an accredited laboratory for microscopic testing.
 
If the samples removed during your inspection are found to contain friable asbestos, you will need to consult with your inspector to determine the best course of action. Typically, they will provide you with two options: repair (encapsulation) or removal. Removal of friable asbestos may be more expensive, but it may also be more efficient if you plan to renovate your home in the near future. The Environmental Protection Agency offers more guidelines for homeowners looking to manage asbestos in their home.
 
To ensure you are getting the best recommendations for your situation, you may wish to hire two separate asbestos specialists: one to inspect and sample the home, and another to conduct the renovations. Getting a second opinion from another inspection company can help avoid unnecessary costs.
 
During your home inspection, the inspection company will handle all of the work. As a homeowner, you will not need to be involved with the process and you will not be required to come in contact with ACM’s at any time. You may even be asked to vacate the premesis for the testing.

Choosing a Company to Inspect Your Home for Asbestos

Because of the serious health risks associated with asbestos exposure, it is crucial to choose an experienced inspection company who is licensed in handling asbestos. If asbestos is accidentally released into the air during inspection and sampling, you and your family may have an elevated risk of asbestos exposure. Heavy and continued exposure to large amounts of asbestos could result in illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
 
To protect yourself from these risks, do your research before you hire an inspection company. Many environmental agencies can inspect a home for asbestos – but choosing a company that specializes in asbestos abatement guarantees that they are familiar with the process.
 
Be aware of your inspection company’s credentials. The requirements vary by state, but generally speaking, the company should (at the very least) be licensed through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
 
Don’t hesitate to do your background research – make sure the contractor that you select has their licenses are up to date (most are required to be renewed every year), and feel free to ask for proof of licensure. Ask the contractors about their liability insurance, and consider doing a search with the Better Business Bureau for any safety violations or complaints lodged against the company. These steps can help ensure you hire the most competent company to inspect your home for asbestos.

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Darin Redding
Written on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:10 by Darin Redding

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 16:28
 

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