Asbestos was once used as a versatile building material due to its ability to withstand heat, decay and erosion. It also has excellent water- and fire-resistant properties. However, asbestos is also associated with health issues. When disturbed through drilling, breaking, cutting, scraping etc., the material releases asbestos fibres that can cause lung diseases when inhaled. It's for this reason that asbestos was phased out as a building material. However, if your home has been around for decades, chances are some areas contain asbestos, such as the internal wall sheeting, siding materials, attic insulation and window caulking and glazing. If the material has been disturbed, it may have to be removed, and here is what you need to know about the process.
It may not be easy to identify asbestos material in your home just by looking at it. Therefore, if you suspect your home contains asbestos or if you have an upcoming home renovation project, the best way to confirm its presence is to have an inspection done by a company that offers asbestos services. A sample will be taken and tested in a laboratory for confirmation. This is usually done by the national authorities responsible for conducting such tests. Evaluation is done to determine not only the presence of asbestos but also the possible abatement measures in case of disturbance.
Repair Vs. Removal
Asbestos can be repaired or removed altogether, and this may depend on the extent of the material or the degree of damage. Repair can be done in the form of encapsulation and enclosure. The former involves using a component referred to as an encapsulate to coat the asbestos-containing material, sealing it and preventing exposure. Enclosure, on the other hand, encompasses building an airtight structure around the asbestos-containing material. While repair is always cheaper, regular maintenance of the encapsulate as well as the airtight structure is required. What's more, any future asbestos removal will be more complex and expensive.
Disposal of the asbestos-containing materials is also significant. Since the material is hazardous, strict laws are often placed on its disposal. Most asbestos removal companies will offer disposal services. Otherwise, you will have to arrange for alternative disposal measures. Skip bins may come in handy at this stage. However, when hiring a skip bin, make sure you specify that you are disposing of asbestos-containing material. Most skip bin companies have specialty skip bins for such materials, but you have to inform them beforehand.
Remember that permits may be required for any work involving asbestos removal. Therefore, find out all the permits or licences (if any) that you will need for your asbestos removal project.