You may recognize the name, but do you actually know anything about asbestos? More importantly, do you know if you have any materials that contain asbestos in your home? If your house was built new over the past few years, you should be in the clear, but if you have an older home, there’s a chance there is asbestos in anything ranging from your drywall to even your roofing and siding materials.
Does Your Home Have Asbestos?
It’s been illegal since 1979 to build houses with or manufacture materials that contain asbestos. It’s a common rule of thumb that if your home was built in 1980 or later you are in the clear, but just because you own a home that was built before then doesn’t mean you definitely have the material in your home. Many people began replacing these materials in their home after the health scares that made them illegal in the first place.
Having said that, just because your home was built in 1980 doesn’t mean you are free and clear either. The manufacturing and use of the material was banned starting in 1979, but it’s been known that some (more nefarious) companies kept using the materials they already had in homes in order to cut costs.
How You Can Tell if Your Roofing or Siding Contains Asbestos
Some roofing materials and cement siding used to contain asbestos. If you want to know if your home contains the material, you will have to contact a lab that does this type of testing. You can send out a sample for testing and usually get results in a matter of days. If you are unsure about how to collect a sample, you can also hire a company to come and take one for you.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the following materials can contain asbestos fibers:
- Asphalt roofing felt
- Asphalt roofing shingles
- Cement roofing shingles
- Roof underlayment
- Wood shake vapor barriers
- Cement-asbestos board
- (Transite) siding
- “Slate” siding
Is Asbestos Really Dangerous?
Materials that contain asbestos are not a danger so long as they remain sealed and undisturbed. Many homes still contain these materials. The trouble comes when the materials are cracked, broken open or left unsealed. The danger that asbestos fibers pose manifests when they are inhaled. Prolonged exposure to airborne asbestos fibers can cause severe lung conditions like cancer and mesothelioma.
Other things that can disturb asbestos fibers are heat, water, weathering and aging.
Can You Remove Asbestos Materials on Your Own?
Technically, yes. However, this is highly dangerous. The removal of these products should be done by a professional company. They not only need to be removed properly, they also (by law) need to be disposed of properly. It’s always recommended to have your roofing or siding removed if they contain asbestos. This is both for safety and financial reasons, as eliminating these materials can increase the value of your home.