DIY Asbestos Removal
Asbestos is a highly carcinogenic agent which can cause a wide range of health problems, from asbestosis and COPD to lung cancer and mesothelioma. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, as all national and worldwide health agencies agree. Thus, we cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a team of professionals to properly attend to the hazardous materials in your home, as they underwent adequate training in this respect and have the required experience to deal with such a challenging and dangerous job.
While the cost of asbestos removal services may be quite high, varying between $1,500 and $30,000, depending on the extent of the project, since it requires utmost attention, plenty of time, as well as expensive protective equipment, we believe it is worth hiring a licensed company instead of attempting to remove asbestos yourself for the sake of your and your family’s health. Additionally, a poorly carried-out asbestos removal job can easily lead to environmental contamination, as fibers are microscopic and spread around very fast.
Nonetheless, removing asbestos by yourself from your own house is not illegal in the U.S. Accordingly, homeowners are legally allowed to perform asbestos removal as long as they comply with the following requirements:
- The property which is to undergo asbestos removal is residential. It is illegal to perform DIY asbestos removal on properties that are not residential, such as commercial or industrial facilities, which fall under the area of expertise of professionals.
- Only a single family must inhabit the residence in which the asbestos removal will take place. As a precaution taken to avoid contamination, the law permits DIY asbestos removal only in single-family homes, such as houses, detached garages, mobile homes, or houseboats. Consequently, individuals without a license cannot perform asbestos removal in the following types of homes: apartments, duplexes, and condominiums.
- You have to obtain a permit. In the majority of U.S. states, a person who intends to perform DIY asbestos removal first has to contact their permitting or local building department so as to receive formal approval for the work they are about to carry out.
- Asbestos waste must be discarded in authorized places only. Following the completion of the asbestos removal, the waste must be properly disposed of in specially designated areas. Even materials containing as little as 1% asbestos fall under this rule.
Although we do not condone DIY asbestos removal, the job can be carried out by unauthorized individuals under relatively safe conditions only if the problem area is not very large and if adequate precautions are taken. Naturally, the exact process of removing asbestos from your home depends primarily on the material which needs to be disposed of. If you plan to perform asbestos removal in your home, it is crucial to follow the steps below to avoid endangering the health of the people around you.
Preparing the Area
Firstly, you have to let your family and neighbors know about the asbestos removal so that they will know to stay away from the house until the job is completed and the area in question is entirely cleaned up. There should be no one around during the procedure, including pets, as they can also be affected by asbestos exposure.
If you are going to remove asbestos materials from the outside of the building, please do the following beforehand:
- spread plastic sheeting on the ground
- move objects such as children's toys and decorative items away from the work area
- close windows and doors, as well as seal vents, to prevent toxic dust from infiltrating your house, and ask your neighbors to do the same
- similarly, seal off other places where asbestos dust might enter, such as under doors
For inside DIY asbestos removal, the precautions below should be taken:
- close the doors and seal the work area off from other rooms by using plastic sheets
- lay plastic sheets on the floor to make cleaning up easier and avoid contamination
- also, seal off air conditioning, vents, and central heating ducts
- place furniture covered with fabric, such as couches and armchairs, in other rooms or, if this is not feasible, lay plastic sheets over them as well
- remove any other objects from the room in which you will perform the asbestos removal
- seal off places like under doors to avoid harmful dust from infiltrating other areas of the house
Performing the Removal
Once the work area has been properly set up, you may begin removing the problematic asbestos materials. However, you should priorly protect yourself by wearing appropriate equipment. It is recommended to wear a respirator or at least a dust mask with two straps during the removal, as well as disposable coveralls with a hood, gloves, and safety glasses. While how you remove the asbestos product in question will depend on what it is, please bear in mind the following, regardless of what material you are going to get rid of:
- do not employ power tools – instead, use hand tools
- do not water blast or scrub the material
- do not drill or cut into the product
- do not eat, drink, or smoke in the work area, as the risk of inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers is very high
- wet down the material with a mix of water and detergent before removing it to prevent the release of toxic fibers in the air
Cleaning Up the Area
After you removed the asbestos material, you should wet down the waste and double wrap it in plastic sheets (200 um thick), securing the package with tape. The asbestos waste must be legally disposed of in a specially designated place. To find out where you can get rid of asbestos waste in your area, you should check with your city council before proceeding with the removal. As for cleaning up the room in question, we advise you to:
- dampen the dust on the ground before removing it with a HEPA vacuum cleaner, which can get rid of over 99% of asbestos particles (do not use a household vacuum cleaner, as they are ineffective when it comes to cleaning up asbestos)
- dispose of your protective equipment in a bag, seal it, and discard it along with the asbestos waste
- be careful not to skid the plastic sheets over one another when removing them, as this may lead to asbestos contamination
Removing asbestos on your own is a challenging job that is likely to result in significant contamination, hence the high cost of professional services. We strongly encourage you to contact a licensed asbestos removal company if it turns out hazardous materials are present in your house. If you lived in a house with asbestos and have a cancer diagnosis, please contact us by filling out the form on this page, or feel free to give us a call at 760.208.4196