Although the use of asbestos has been long banned in Australia, asbestos-containing building materials may still be present in homes that were built in the 1980s and the prior years. We all know the dangers of being exposed to asbestos and its health risks, which is why when our clients at Defence Pest & Building Inspection Services decide on having their old homes renovated, we always caution them about the possibility of asbestos being present in their property.
Asbestos was a common building product due to its fire-resistant properties and was mainly used for insulation. Here are 10 common but, to some, still surprising areas in the home where asbestos might be lurking:
Floorboards or floor coverings
Many floorboards, coverings and vinyl tiles that were installed before the 1980s may contain asbestos. While most of these cannot be easily taken apart, there is a risk that asbestos fibres will be released when these materials are damaged.
Roof sheets and gutter
Roof sheeting and sliding, as well as gutters that contain asbestos are usually non-friable. However, due to wear and tear, they can gradually release asbestos particles in the air.
Older properties with off-white panels used as ceiling tiles most likely contain asbestos. When removing the ceiling tiles, there is a risk of cutting through the material and damaging the tiles, in turn exposing the occupants to asbestos.
If your home has an attic and it was built prior to the ban of asbestos, there is a possibility you will find asbestos in the products used. Because asbestos content in these construction materials may be high, it is encouraged that these be removed only by licensed technicians.
You might think that replacing the wallpaper in your old home is a simple task, but if the property has been around since the 1980s, it is better to have every part of your home, including the wallpaper, checked by a qualified professional for the presence of asbestos.
Wall compounds such as putties and cement patching may have asbestos-containing materials, so before you begin doing anything with your wall, make sure that safety measures are undertaken to avoid exposure to asbestos.
Switchboard panels and meter boards
Non-friable asbestos containing materials were typically used as electrical insulators, so it is safer to assume that your switchboard panels and meter boards contain asbestos, and then have them removed immediately. You can also have these materials tested if you want to be sure before replacing them.
Steam pipes and ducts
Metal pipes and ducts require the heat- and fire-resistant properties of asbestos, hence, these materials were secured using gaskets and caulking products that are partly made of asbestos.
Furnaces and burning stoves
Some of the oldest homes may have furnaces and wood-burning stoves, and to prevent fire-related accidents, materials that were used to surround the furnaces usually contain asbestos.
The use of asbestos was prevalent in building construction, but unknown to many, there are also home and garden items that contain asbestos. If you own a property with garden decor such as a water pipe, planter bowl or even a table with a compressed sheet table top, then it is best to have our team from Defence Pest & Building Inspection Services check your home for presence of asbestos and other problems in your property.