Lots of older homes have asbestos components so what is the big deal?
I want to side step the whole issue of which common home components are likely to contain asbestos, you can find that information at EPA Asbestos Information.
What I want to talk about today is how the presence of asbestos might make assessment and repairs of other issues in the home difficult if not impossible until the asbestos issue is resolved.
I had a good example of this at a recent inspection where the home had extensive foundation, plumbing and electrical issues--along with obvious asbestos issues.
While most authorities recommend leaving asbestos containing products alone—undisturbed, or even encapsulated—there are times when the materials have become “friable,” where remediation must be done. Friable means that the material has been damaged in some way and the likelihood of asbestos fibers becoming airborne has increased.
In this particular case most of the old asbestos containing pipe insulation was badly damaged.
The likelihood that asbestos fibers have “gone wild” in the crawl space is so likely, that many of the professionals necessary to make the repairs to the foundation, plumbing and electrical issues in the crawl space may not be willing to enter and in some cases even prohibited from entering the space until remediation is done.
Even obtaining estimates from these other professionals may have to be put off until the asbestos containing materials has been cleaned up.
Even demolishing the house is going to require remediation.
If only we knew yesterday—what we know today.
It makes one wonder what we do today that we are oblivious as to how it will affect future generations.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board