Asbestos in Transite Gas Vents

By Stan G. in Construction

The homes built between 1920 and 1980 primarily contained asbestos because it was present in almost every construction material, representing a constant risk of exposure to the people living in them.

Over time asbestos causes lung diseases and cancer if the fibers are inhaled or ingested; there is no measure of safe asbestos exposure. Even if asbestos is toxic, it is essential to remember that it's not harmful if left undisturbed.

There are many areas in older homes where asbestos lurks, and the transite ductwork is a significant part of them. Transite duct was a standard product used to vent gas appliances like:

The HVAC ducts running beneath the concrete floor in the basements were also transite, as pipes from this material were frequently used in the 1960s and early 1970s. All homes with transite ductwork are potential places for asbestos exposure because the interior of these ducts can deteriorate and break down, often collapsing in on themselves. When this occurs, it requires reparation or removal, increasing the risk of releasing asbestos fibers into the air. The crumbled interior can block the flue causing hazardous exhaust gases to be stuck inside the home, further aggravating the family's potential exposure.

Why Transite Asbestos Gas Vents Represent a Hazard

Transite contained 12-50% asbestos fiber added to a cement base to provide tensile strength. It was ideal for producing furnace flues and other gas outlets because of its heat-insolating properties and fire retardancy, which are particularly important in gas vents. All goods made from asbestos-containing transite represent the risk of asbestos exposure because it can release carcinogenic asbestos fibers into the air when:

  • breaking
  • cutting
  • machining

The cut edges of the transite ducts are often rough, and the microscopic asbestos particles can become airborne when disturbing them. Furnace flues or other transite gas outlets left with uneven margins shouldn't be cleaned, for there's the risk of creating the hazard of inhaling or ingesting the tiny asbestos fibers.

Homeowners are responsible for cleaning their ducts, but when the home has transite vents, duct cleaning becomes complicated. When deciding on cleaning the transite ducts, the homeowner is responsible for avoiding asbestos exposure. Only a few duct cleaners know the danger of disturbing asbestos-containing products. If you hire them to clean your ducts, they'll probably clean them without asking, creating potential asbestos exposure.

What to Do When Your Home Has Transite Asbestos Gas Vents

Transite vents are typically for a water heater or furnace, so when dealing with them, always inspect the flue's interior. Many homes have transite vents still pristine, representing no asbestos exposure risks. If the situation allows, you should plan not to use it and have the gas appliances that are connected to it replaced. If the flue is crumbled, you should leave it as it is and abandon it for safety. An authorized HVAC contractor can help figure out other ways to vent the appliances or replace the existing ones with new devices that don't need to use the transite asbestos flue.

Avoid Health Risks by Regularly Checking Asbestos in Your Home

Whether your house has identified asbestos-containing products or you suspect there are possible asbestos products in your home, check them regularly and look for signs of wear or erosion. The damaged surface or material could release asbestos fibers into the air if disturbed by airflow, extreme vibration, handling, hitting, or rubbing. Limiting access to the area or completely isolating it prevents asbestos exposure. It is essential not to touch the damaged surface as the tiny asbestos particles could become airborne and contaminate your home.

If you have to remove or repair asbestos-containing goods from your home and wish to handle it yourself, consider reading our do-it-yourself asbestos removal method. You can also consult our page to hire an authorized asbestos abatement company to do the work, so you don't have to worry about safety.

Why Should I Test Products in My Home for Asbestos?

It is often impossible to tell whether asbestos is embedded in a material, as the fibers are too small to be observed with the naked eye. Exposure to asbestos is responsible for serious respiratory conditions, so thorough testing is required to ensure your home is asbestos-free.