Checking for asbestos in your home

Rick Peebles from Asbestos Solutions provides advice on how to check your home for asbestos.

Certified worker checking for asbestos in home attic.
ARTICLE Rick Peebles

So your family is planning some home improvements and you have real concerns that your home may contain asbestos products that can be a health risk. Your next questions is likely to be, “Who can I turn to for help and/or advice?”
Let’s just take a step back in time, to see when asbestos was in common use in homes.
Asbestos was commonly used inside building products, such as cladding, roofing, gutters, fencing, decorative texture ceilings, night store heaters and some linoleum products. It also was used (less frequently) as insulation in chimneys and even some log fire doors.
The Government recognised the health risk of asbestos in the early 1980s and legislated against its use.
Identifying that asbestos is in your home does not necessarily mean that there is a health risk. Bonded asbestos materials such as roofing, cladding and gutters, could be expected to be stable and remain stable as long as these items are left undisturbed. Friable materials such as insulation or texture ceilings are more likely to be a risk, as they can be readily crumbled and can turn to dust. In either instance, these products are likely to be 30+ years old and will deteriorate over time.
Our advice is, find out what it is you are disturbing and seek expert advice.
If you think your home has any of these issues, it’s best to test the product to confirm whether you do, or don’t have a problem. There are two laboratories in NZ accredited to test for asbestos. They will provide a test result for you if you send them a sample – there is a charge for this service. Alternatively, there are many companies nation-wide certified by WorksafeNZ to complete restricted asbestos work. They can take samples for you and have them tested for you – again there is likely to be a charge for this service.
If the tests prove positive for asbestos, it is then time to call on the experts – the home renovator does not want to create a situation where disturbing or breaking asbestos products releases airborne asbestos fibres in to the home. WorksafeNZ certified asbestos removal contractors will provide guidance on how to deal with your asbestos problem. The Ministry of Health website contains good information for homeowners on asbestos risk and how to manage it.

For more home renovation advice, read our helpful home renovation articles

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This column by Rick Peebles featured on page 41  in Issue 017 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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