How to Spot Asbestos Insulation

By Stan G. in Construction

The dangers of asbestos should be known to every homeowner by now, as it can be found in a wide range of products, from walls to roof tiles. Exposure to asbestos can be extremely harmful, causing a lot of health problems, including shortness of breath and lung cancer. However, asbestos-containing products are only dangerous if damaged. If they are found in good condition, asbestos-containing materials should be left undisturbed, as they pose little to no health risk.

Asbestos can be found in various types of insulation. In comparison to batt insulation, loose-fill insulation can threaten people's health if poorly installed. Inside walls or around pipes, a lot of particles can be released and this way, insulation becomes an issue that most homeowners encounter at some point.

Identifying asbestos insulation

Knowing whether your house contains asbestos insulation is of high importance and can help avoid developing severe diseases, like mesothelioma or asbestosis. Asbestos fibers are extremely dangerous and even exposure to low levels of asbestos can cause serious health problems. Therefore, asbestos insulation should be properly identified and safely removed from your home. But how can you spot asbestos insulation in your house?

  • Find out when your house was built. If it was built or renovated before the 1980s, it is very likely that it contains asbestos insulation.
  • Wear protective equipment. If you plan on checking the insulation in your house all by yourself, you should wear proper safety equipment which includes goggles, mask, gloves, and a protective suit.
  • Look for insulation present in the home. Both batt type and loose asbestos-containing insulation are gray-colored materials with a fluffy aspect, so it should not be too difficult to recognize them. Moreover, Zonolite insulation has an accordion texture easy to identify.
  • Check the pipe coverings. Blanket-type and cardboard coverings were usually used as insulation for pipes and might contain asbestos as well.

Have your house inspected by professionals

Even if you are not sure whether the insulation in your home contains asbestos, it is recommended to contact a licensed company to check your house. Not even the slightest worry should be overlooked. The experienced people working for these inspection companies know where insulation can be found in your house and can immediately recognize it. Moreover, by letting professionals do the job they were trained for, you avoid accidentally contaminating the whole house.

In order to confirm the presence of asbestos insulation in your house, a sample must be sent to a certified laboratory. Asbestos testing is essential if your house is older than 30 years, as the mineral was widely used in insulation when its harmful effects had not yet been discovered. The method used to identify asbestos is called polarizing light microscopy and it can only be performed in laboratories certified by EPA. If the laboratory test confirms your suspicion, you need to contact a licensed abatement company to safely remove asbestos from your home.

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.