7 Warnings Signs Your Home Needs Asbestos Testing

asbestos testing

If you have an older home, asbestos testing is well worth the investment. Asbestos has been used in building materials in the U.S. for decades. While it’s commonly found in a lot of products and construction materials, exposure to large amounts can be dangerous.

If you suspect your home has asbestos, a professional can perform tests and removal procedures to keep you and your family safe. Long-term exposure to asbestos can cause respiratory problems, chest pain, and even cancer.

Luckily, this round-up has everything you need to know about asbestos. From the type of materials used in your home to its age, we’ll go over the six most common asbestos signs to watch for. Here’s how you can tell if you may have asbestos in your home.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos consists of six natural minerals. These minerals make soft, flexible, heat resistant fiber. In the early 1970s, the U.S. consumption of asbestos products peaked. Asbestos products were affordable, easy to manufacture, and cost-effective to build with.

Exposure to asbestos over several years can cause serious health and respiratory problems. Thankfully, by the late 1970s, people began to better understand the dangerous effects of too much asbestos exposure. Labor unions began to require safer work environments and asbestos-free conditions.

Asbestos is still used in a number of consumer goods and construction materials. Products made with less than 1% of asbestos are still allowed in the United States, today.

1. You Have an Older Home

If you have an older home, it’s likely your home may contain asbestos. If your home was built prior to 1980, chances are asbestos materials were used. Asbestos is in walls, floor tiles, roofs, and ceilings in almost all homes built before the 1980s.

If you’re purchasing an older home, you can ask if an asbestos test was ever done. If it hasn’t, you may be able to order one prior to closing. If you’re planning on doing significant renovations, you’ll want to assume there was asbestos used so you’re prepared for the removal costs when you get started.

2. Your Home has Vinyl Tiles

Asbestos is most commonly found in vinyl tiles versus other types of flooring. Before you buy a home with vinyl flooring, know that it is highly probable you have asbestos under your floor.

Vinyl tile flooring was especially popular in the 1980s. Many products were made before asbestos restrictions were put in place. If you’re ripping up old vinyl tile floors, you’ll want to hire an asbestos professional to test and remove the asbestos before you continue with construction.

3. Insulation on Your Pipes

If you have an older home, your pipes were likely insulated with asbestos because it is fireproof. If you see gray or white insulation around your pipes that were installed before the 1980s – these will likely contain asbestos. Pipes may contain a large amount of asbestos so it’s important to have them professionally tested.

4. You Have Old Ceiling Tiles

If your ceiling tiles are older, there could be asbestos inside. Before you start tearing a celling apart, make sure you have a professional come to inspect them. When asbestos is disturbed, the particles can become dangerous to breathe.

Have a professional come in to remove any asbestos particles before you start remodeling your ceiling or adding an addition. Breathing in too much asbestos can be dangerous to your respiratory system when inhaled.

5. Your Home Has Roofing Sheets

Most of the corrugated, flat, sheets of roofing have some asbestos in them. White asbestos is the most durable for roofing projects due to its fireproofing. There can be dangerous levels of asbestos in these products, however so it’s best to call a professional if you suspect you have asbestos on your roof.

If you’re purchasing a new home, your home inspector may be able to tell you about any suspected asbestos they find. A roofer may also find this during an inspection or any maintenance work.

6. Health Problems: Do I Have Asbestos Poisoning?

If you’ve lived in an older home for a long period of time, you may have been exposed to asbestos. Small amounts of asbestos exposure aren’t likely to cause damage, but over enough time you could feel serious side effects.

Symptoms of asbestos poisoning include shortness of breath, a dry cough that won’t go away, weight loss, loss of appetite, chest pain or finger and toe clubbing. Clubbing is when your toes and fingers look rounder and wider than they normally do. Asbestos poisoning can also lead to cancer in some cases.

If you feel any signs of asbestos poisoning, talk to your doctor right away. If you suspect asbestos in your home, call a professional to inspect it and remove it before symptoms worsen.

When Your Home Needs Asbestos Testing

If your house is older, there’s a good chance you may have asbestos in some part of your home. There are several different types of materials used in home construction containing asbestos.

If your home has asbestos it could be causing you or your family health problems. Long-term exposure to asbestos can cause severe respiratory problems and even cancer if left untreated. Professional asbestos testing is the only way to tell if it’s present in your home.

If you suspect asbestos, fill out the form here to get in touch with a professional who can come and inspect it.

How to Identify Asbestos: A Full Guide

identify asbestos

Asbestos-related diseases kill over 12,000 Americans every year. Despite this staggering total, many homes still harbor this toxic material.

Knowing how to identify asbestos is the first step towards quick removal. The faster you remove this harmful material from your home, the better.

In this guide, we’ll go over what asbestos is and how to figure out if your home has it.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos refers to 6 different types of silicate minerals that insulated homes up until the late 20th century. These fibrous materials include Chrysotile, Tremolite, Crocidolite, Amosite, and Anthophyllite. Over 95% of asbestos contains Chrysotile.

The construction industry viewed asbestos as a versatile material before labeled as dangerous, as it’s a cheap way to fireproof, caulk, and insulate.

In the 1970s, scientists deemed asbestos a health hazard. The material is a cancer-causing agent and studies proved that exposure leads to deadly diseases such as lung cancer.

Currently, an asbestos ban in 55 countries is in effect. Despite its ban, asbestos is everywhere.

To this day, many buildings still have asbestos lurking in the walls. If you currently live in a home built before asbestos regulations had taken effect, it’s vital to check for signs of asbestos.

Where Does Asbestos Usually Hide?

There are a few areas in your home that are more likely to hold asbestos than others. For example, Bathrooms and kitchens were often built with asbestos in the floors because they’re water-resistant and helped prevent water damage from floods.

Asbestos may hide in your home’s exterior, too. Shingles for both roofs and siding were often installed with asbestos to help with insulation.

Pipes tend to hold asbestos because the material was once thought to prevent pipe corrosion and increase friction resistance. This is particularly dangerous because the asbestos can infiltrate drinking water.

Attics are another type of area where you’re likely to locate asbestos. This material was widely used to insulate attics and keep them fire-resistant. The type of asbestos used in attics has a pebble-like consistency, which is easy to spot.

An unexpected place where you may find asbestos is in HVAC ducts. Heating ducts installed before the phase-out may have asbestos insulation fibers. Asbestos fibers were an inexpensive way to fix and insulate pipes before deemed dangerous.

Asbestos-Related Diseases

Unfortunately, asbestos causes many dangerous lung conditions. Health conditions caused by asbestos are mostly seen in workers who constructed homes before the material was banned entirely.

Mesothelioma is commonly caused by asbestos. Other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are commonly caused by asbestos exposure.

Asbestos exposure doesn’t typically cause health issues immediately. It takes anywhere between 10 and 40 years to see the negative impacts of exposure. However, there are a few key symptoms to keep an eye out for.

A chronic dry cough is an indication that you’re regularly exposed to asbestos. In addition to constant coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness all point to asbestos exposure.

If you have any of these symptoms and you live in an older home, it’s best to start thinking of inspecting your home for asbestos exposure.

How to Identify Asbestos

Asbestos is made of microscopic fibers. Identifying it relies on more investigative work than looking at it. While you need professional help for proper confirmation and removal, there are several clues you can search for that help prove you have an asbestos problem.

If you spot any of these indicators, call a professional to help you take the next step towards identification.

Consider Your Home’s Age

The easiest way to rule out if you have asbestos in your home is to figure out when your home was built. If it was built before 1995, which was the last year before it was completely phased out, you need to take action.

Identify Your Home’s Insulation Material

If you have access to your home building certificate, take a look at the insulation material or codes cited on the record. If you’re unfamiliar with the types of insulation materials and codes, do a quick Google search to identify whether the material is made of asbestos.

Look for Clues

If you spot aluminum runners outside your home, that may indicate asbestos was used. These runners were used to implement asbestos materials and may occur along the sides of residential or commercial buildings.

On the interior of your home, look for “popcorn” walls and ceilings. This refers to walls and ceilings that have a bumpy texture.

Vinyl or linoleum tiles are other clues that point towards asbestos. Asbestos was often used as a bottom layer in vinyl tile construction as cheap insulation.

What to Do When You Identify Asbestos in Your Home

First and foremost, don’t interact with the asbestos you’ve spotted. Don’t renovate your home while asbestos is still in it. If you know you have asbestos, and it’s well-contained, it doesn’t pose an immediate threat.

Knocking down walls, drilling, or any other renovation work will cause asbestos exposure. Disturbing this mineral will spread its fibers in the air, leading to illness.

Visual confirmation is a good first step. But to confirm you have asbestos, you can’t rely on visual identification. You’ll need to send samples to a lab to verify whether or not the material you found in your home is asbestos.

To begin proper identification and removal, you need to request a professional asbestos removal service. Trained professionals quickly resolve your asbestos issue by safely sampling, removing, and disposing of the material.

The Next Steps

While there are several ways to identify asbestos on your own, getting rid of asbestos requires trained professionals. Don’t hesitate to take the next steps toward asbestos removal. Your health is counting on it!

Do you need help removing the asbestos in your home? Contact us and we’ll provide fast and reliable asbestos removal from your property.

The Risks of Being an Uninsured Renter: You Could Lose it All

Did youmud sink by dark day know that if you rent a home or commercial space every item that you moved into that space is at risk for losses from fire, theft or flood, unless you purchase renters’ insurance?   That’s right…no matter the origin of the damage, your personal property is not covered under the property owner’s insurance.

We have seen first hand renters’ lose all of their property following a home fire because they did not purchase renters’ insurance.   One of our clients had significant smoke damage to her personal property after badly burning a turkey in her oven.  She was unable to afford the cost of replacing and repairing her damaged furnishings, and without renters’ insurance, she had no options but to swallow the loss.

Another client experienced a flood in their basement level rental.  Even though the flood came from a damaged water main, his personal items were still a total loss because he did not have insurance.  His landlord did have insurance..but this only protected the landlord’s property.

Another benefit of renters’ insurance is that should you be forced to temporarily move out of your home because of a significant event, often your insurance will cover the costs of moving you out and housing you while your home is repaired.  Coverage will also usually pay to clean, repair or replace your damaged property.

Some landlords make it mandatory that their tenants purchase insurance.  For as little as $10.00 to $30.00 a month, you can protect yourself from a catastrophic loss.  Don’t leave your property and piece of mind at risk.  Talk to your insurance agent today to find out more about renter’s insurance.

Disclaimer: Depending upon your personal needs and the terms of the coverage purchased the amount of coverage you are eligible for may vary. Helpers has no affiliation with any insurance broker, agent or carrier and does not profit in any manner from the provision of this advice.  We strongly advise you to contact a licensed insurance broker to learn more about the coverage options that are best for you.

5 Facts About Asbestos

asbestos chrysotile fibers that cause lung disease COPD lung cancer mesothelioma

(by guest blogger: Michelle Whitmer)  Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that’s been used to fireproof and strengthen commercial and industrial products since the 1800s.  It prevents fire and makes products safer to use around heat.  Controversy around the use of asbestos arose from the discovery that it is a carcinogen-it has been linked to cancer and other diseases. Mesothelioma

Asbestos exposure has no immediate effect. Asbestos-related diseases develop many years after exposure. For example, it takes at least 10 years for asbestosis to develop and several decades for cancer to develop.   As a result of the toxic effects of asbestos, strict regulatory controls have been implemented to protect the public from it’s harmful effects.
The following facts explain more about the risks of exposure, how to avoid asbestos products and what can be done for people who get sick.
Asbestos Not Banned in the US
The U.S. government passed regulations targeted at asbestos in the 1970s and 1980s.  The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power to regulate asbestos. It also effectively banned one of the most dangerous products: Spray-applied asbestos. The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 allowed the EPA to further regulate asbestos. In 1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act forced the EPA to design protocols to manage asbestos in schools.
More than 50 countries have banned asbestos but the U.S. is not one of them. The EPA attempted to enact a ban in 1989, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned it in 1991.  Asbestos remains in products, including auto brake pads and clutches, gaskets, roofing materials and other construction products, fireproof clothing and friction materials.
Asbestos is Primarily Used as Insulation
Asbestos was most commonly used as an insulating material to protect products from heat damage and prevent fire. Different types of asbestos insulation include:

• Loose-fill or attic
• Wall
• Spray-applied
• Block
• Pipe
• Cement
• Valve jackets
• Textiles
• Paper products

It is impossible to identify whether a product contains asbestos through visual inspection alone. Laboratory testing is required to confirm presence of asbestos, which takes days to process. For safety, it is highly recommended to treat these insulation products as if they contain asbestos until testing demonstrates that it does not.
If you encounter insulating materials at home or on the job, make sure they’re in good condition and don’t do anything to damage or disturb them. If the insulation looks damaged or is deteriorating, call a licensed asbestos abatement company or a certified building inspector to assess the situation.
Asbestos Was Widely Used by US Military
Every branch of the U.S. military, including the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy, used asbestos-containing materials (ACM).   The Air Force used asbestos insulation on planes. The Army used asbestos parts in armored vehicles. The Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps used asbestos to make ships and shipyards fireproof.   All branches used asbestos insulation throughout their buildings, barracks and housing communities.
Because asbestos exposure was so prevalent in the military, around 30 percent of mesothelioma lawsuits are filed by veterans.
 Occupational Exposure Posed Greatest Health Risk
People who work with asbestos regularly on the job are the ones who face the greatest health risk.  It generally takes years of repeated exposure to become at risk for developing an asbestos-related disease. However, minimal exposure, such as a heavy one-time exposure or just a few months of exposure, has caused disease in some people.
About 20% of people who work with asbestos develop a related disease. The vast majority do not experience negative effects from exposure and it is speculated that those who do may have genetic predisposition.
There is Currently No Cure for Asbestos-Related Diseases
Unfortunately, there are no cures for asbestos-related diseases. Life Expectancy Only early-stage lung cancer and ovarian cancer have a chance of being cured with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.  Sadly, only a handful of mesothelioma cases have entered long-term remission, but most cases are incurable. If diagnosed early, aggressive treatment helps people outlive the 1-year average life expectancy. Some people are living more than three and five years with combined treatment using surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.
Asbestosis is a progressive lung disease that is incurable, but treatments are available to ease symptoms. Oxygen therapy alleviates shortness of breath, medication thins lung secretions and reduce pain, and respiratory therapy helps to keep the lungs clear.

Asbestos exposures should be taking seriously.  Although most people exposed to asbestos do not get sick, those who do face serious illness. Avoiding asbestos materials throughout a lifetime is essential to reducing your risk of developing a related disease. Take necessary precautions and complete necessary testing if you encounter or suspect materials contain asbestos.
Author bio: Michelle Whitmer has been a medical writer and editor for The Mesothelioma Center since 2008. Focused on the benefits of integrative medicine for cancer patients, Michelle is a certified yoga instructor, member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine and graduated from Rollins College in Florida.  Edited by Julie Warren.

Asbestos: When to Test

 

Asbestos-in-your-home
Homes built prior to the 1990s are more likely to contain materials containing asbestos.

The use of Asbestos has decreased over the years, however it is still used to manufacture products today. The use of Asbestos is strictly monitored, and products cannot be composed of more than 1% of Asbestos material.

Prior to the late 80’s, it was commonly used in construction materials including drywall joint compound. State Certified Building Inspectors are obligated to test building materials for the presence of Asbestos during demolition, beyond certain trigger limits. For example, if you are removing 32 square feet or more of drywall or wall board, Asbestos testing is mandated by the state of Colorado, even if your home is brand new.  So before you demo, call Helpers.

Helpers has State Certified Building Inspectors on staff who can complete this testing for you or answer any questions you might have to safely handle these materials.  Testing can be completed in as little as one business day.