Checking for Asbestos in Your Home

How to Check For Asbestos in the Home

By Mark J. Donovan

Asbestos was used in numerous home building materials for years including insulation, vinyl floor tiles, roofing materials, house siding, drywall, and textured ceiling paints, just to name a few. As a result many home builders and homeowners were exposed to the health hazards of asbestos, including Mesothelioma, Asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Asbestos was used in building materials for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the fact that it is a fire retardant.

Unfortunately, however, asbestos is a natural mineral fiber and when it is disturbed, microscopic thin crystal like asbestos particles are released into the air.

Once in the air, the suspended particles can be inhaled and ingested. After inhalation, the particles can become lodged in the lungs. Once lodged in the lungs various forms of lung illnesses and cancers can occur.

Checking for asbestos in your home is important, particularly when you plan to disturb the materials that could potentially have asbestos in them. Fortunately today’s new home construction is virtually free of asbestos. Older homes built pre-1979, however, are much more likely to have asbestos in them.

Homes with asbestos in them are not necessarily dangerous if the asbestos laced building materials are left undisturbed or are encapsulated in another safe building product.

How to check for asbestos in the home.

Also, small exposures to asbestos particles will not necessarily results in lung diseases. Typically prolonged exposure to asbestos particles is what causes the various lung problems.

To check for asbestos in your home, it is imperative to hire a licensed asbestos testing firm or asbestos abatement firm. They have the skills and tools to safely check your home for asbestos.

The most likely areas for asbestos in your home are in the basement and on your vinyl tiled floors and popcorn ceilings. Old insulated plumbing pipes and furnaces in your basement were commonly insulated in asbestos laced insulation. Similarly many older vinyl tiled floors were constructed with asbestos.

A properly trained asbestos tester can lift small patches of the suspected building materials in your home and quickly have them tested for asbestos. The way to ultimately confirm whether or not there is asbestos in the building material is to inspect the samples under a microscope.

After determining what building materials in your home have asbestos in them, you can then address how to deal with them.

New Home Construction Bid Sheet

Again, often you can leave the asbestos where it is, as long as you don’t plan on disturbing it. In some cases, such as with vinyl asbestos laced floors, you can simply cover over them with new tile or flooring. In other cases, such as if you plan to remodel a home or room with asbestos building materials in it, you may need to first hire an asbestos abatement contractor to safely remove the asbestos building materials.

To find a home inspector in your local area check the American Home inspector Directory, which maintains a national database of home inspectors. Similarly you can find a home inspector via Renovation Expert’s national database of contractors and home inspectors. Simply fill out their free form and 3 to 4 home inspectors in your local area will contact you. There is no charge or obligation to use this service or any one of the home inspectors.

For help on building a home addition, see’s Home Addition Bid Sheets. Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home addition project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home addition building costs.

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