When choosing an older home, buyers don’t often consider the attic as a major selling point. Sometimes that 50’s charm and newly renovated kitchen are enough to put in a down payment without ever regarding one important factor. Asbestos attic insulation. It’s something that should always be examined in an older house, since overlooking it could mean putting your life at risk, and no one should have to live with such a hazard. If you’re intrigued by the idea of living in an older house someday, or currently living in a place that you suspect may contain asbestos attic insulation, there are a few things you should know.
1. What is Asbestos?
Asbestos has been around for centuries, but wasn’t used for insulation until the 1800’s when the Industrial Revolution had a need for insulation materials. Over time, it has been used for steam engines, U.S Navy ships during WWII, and roof shingles. Because of its incredible durability and resistance to high temperatures, asbestos solved many problems relating to pipes and broilers. Naturally, commercial mass-production was an obvious next step, considering the benefits it could provide for homes and businesses. Not to mention, it was an especially easy product to obtain through mining.
2. Why Is It a Problem Today?
Health effects caused by asbestos became more and more apparent as miners and insulation workers developed medical issues within their lungs from constantly inhaling the product. It caused inflammation issues and scarring due to the human body’s inability to break down the fibers. However, due to financial success and easy access, the hazards were ignored all the way until 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency listed asbestos as a dangerous air pollutant.
- Asbestos insulation has been around since the 1800’s. This means that over a century’s worth of houses, schools, and businesses have been built and installed with asbestos insulation, many of which still remain in the U.S today.
- Asbestosis and mesothelioma are illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos fibers—after being inhaled or swallowed.
- Over the years, asbestos has been used in a variety of different insulation methods, making it difficult for many homeowners to identify and remove.
- Do-it-yourself renovations in older homes can cause more harm than good when homeowners work unknowingly in areas containing asbestos.
- Veterans, who resided in Navy ships coated with asbestos, and workers from past insulation companies still suffer from the effects of asbestos to this day.
3. How to Identify Asbestos Attic Insulation
Attic insulation plays a very important role in the home. It helps you save energy, retains heat during colder months, and likewise keeps warm air from invading air-conditioned spaces. While asbestos has served as a well-working insulation in the past, it’s simply not worth the health risks of managing it. To ensure the quality of your home, you must first have the asbestos insulation safely removed by a professional. Not sure what to look for? Here are the four major types of asbestos insulation and how to identify them.
- Loose-fill asbestos insulation: Retains a fluffy snow-like texture. This insulation is often made up entirely of asbestos, and is extremely dangerous. Fibers can be easily disturbed and inhaled.
- Asbestos insulation wrappings: Pipes and ducts were often wrapped in asbestos because of the product’s high resistance to heat. It’s made from asbestos paper and becomes more hazardous as it ages. The break-down makes for easy particle distribution through the air when attempting to cut and remove it.
- Asbestos Block Insulation: made purely of asbestos, these large slabs were glued to walls of buildings for an easy insulation application. When damaged or cut, they pose the great risk of being inhaled.
- Spray-on asbestos insulation: This was a very common and affordable approach to installing insulation, as it required minimal labor while still providing the same fire-proof and structural benefits. Commonly used in commercial buildings, this insulation was casually sprayed all over the ceiling, which of course, put workers at risk, and is now an extremely hazardous material to remove today. Similar to loose-fill asbestos, it has a very fluffy, gray, cloud-like appearance.
4. How to Test for Asbestos
Although we recommend asbestos be tested and handled by professional attic insulation services, testing can be done on your own and with little expense by purchasing a testing kit. Of course, all testing should be handled as cautiously as possible, wearing a mask, and protective gear. Because asbestos was never fully banned in the U.S, asbestos readings are considered “safe” if they are under 1%. Here are some facts about testing kits when choosing the right one for you.
- Cost. If a kit is higher in price, it doesn’t always mean that it will be the most effective. Sometimes you can find accurate kits up to as little as $14. All kits should be carefully researched before purchase.
- Immediate results kit. Although obtaining fast results may seems like the best approach when health is concerned, this kind of test leaves the process entirely up to you. You’re responsible for scraping the asbestos and applying it to the kit using the chemicals provided. This can be an intimidating process for a lot of homeowners as the product’s accuracy is entirely up to their ability to follow directions.
- Lab results kit. Most do-it-yourself testing kits have a problem with accuracy. Whether or not you’ve followed directions can have little to do with an accurate reading when the kit is already expired. However, with lab result kits, you never have to worry about complex instructions or expiration dates, as you simply scrape off insulation and send it to a lab. This is a popular choice for those looking to save money, but still want the most accurate reading possible. The only downside is the waiting period until the results are delivered back to you.
5. The importance of Caring for Your Attic
We understand that most homeowners use their attic for storage, and that the space often remains unseen for months, or even years at a time. However, there exists plenty of reasons to keep up with your attic’s maintenance, ranging from rodent infestations, to mold, to asbestos attic insulation. To ensure that you and your household are living safely within your own walls, you’ll need to do an occasional investigation and cleaning of the attic.
This means reorganizing and possibly removing storage, checking for cracks and holes that might become entry-points for rodents and other insects, as well as inspecting insulation and cleaning out debris. Luckily for you, attic cleaning is something that can be done professionally to help save you time and money. The friendly team at Green Rat Control will offer you affordable prices for quality services, safely removing and replacing any asbestos attic insulation that you might have lurking around with all-new product.
If you’ve got asbestos that needs to be removed, why not have the professionals take care of it? it’s true that you can handle it yourself, but sometimes it’s not worth the possibility of harming your health. If you’re ready to have your insulation replaced, and your attic cleaned and sanitized, go ahead and give the Green Rat Control a call. Let experienced professionals take the dangerous matters off of your hands.