Seattle Home Inspector's Blog

head_left_image

Asbestos Gone Wild!

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seattle Home Inspector

 

The Human Rights Campaign   QR code for Charles Buell Inspections Inc  ASHI.org

 

WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 35 commentsCharles Buell • December 22 2013 05:30AM

Comments

Good catch on your part and good reason to hire a professional for removal.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 4 years ago

Hi Charles,

I have found a number of homes with the attics looking like your crawl space here.

Now it's up to the sellers to decide what to do next.

Have a Very Merry Christmas in Seattle.

Best, Clint cKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 4 years ago

David, it was pretty hard to miss in this case

Clint, this one was a bit unusual as it was parties of an estate looking to take the house on.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Wow that photo is really scary!  And I think about that alot too, what we used to do/eat/etc and now don't etc

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 4 years ago

I probably come across asbestos in basement tile (VAT) about every other week.  Often, it's not an issue and we just need to go on top and/or encapsulate.   But, I do have a customer from 2 weeks ago where the pieces under the carpet are broken in many spots (appears to be due to water damage), so they most likely will get abated especially given the cost trade-offs (as well as safety), an what they want to do after. - Debbie

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) over 4 years ago

It does seem that we have created some pretty tough situations for many in the future Charles. It makes you wonder about some of the things we do today; what's the next issue?

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

Could be the vapor retarder installer knocked a bunch of that stuff loose too.

So, as to the Gone Wild! thing - when is the video coming out?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Kristin, there is so much to learn and we have forgotten so much

Debbie, there are often no easy solutions

Tom, only time will tell I guess

Jay, no doubt--I heard that Billy Jay had the rights to the movie.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I only recently learned that many of the acoustic "popcorn" ceilings that were popular for years contain asbestos. 

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jason, yes---that is a common one---along with the accoustic ceiling tiles.  The thing about these two though is that the amount of asbestos is very small--making cleanup a lot easier.  The stuff with lots of asbestos like pipe insulation or plasters on old furnaces is a little more problematic.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Hello Charles, scary what may be lurking around, often dangerous.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!

Posted by Barbara Hensley, Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas (RE/MAX Properties) over 4 years ago

Barbara, just the stuff so common with older homes

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Charles, I sure hope you were wearing a moon suit when you snapped these pictures!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Pat, pretty much

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

It is amazing that building materials that were in common use (i.e. asbestos and lead based paint) have been found to be sooo dangerous. Those materials are still with us and we need to treat them with care and respect for our own good.

 

Posted by John Juarez, ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN (The Medford Real Estate Team) over 4 years ago

I had the same thought as John ( #15). Now we, at least, know that it is dangerous and must be treated carefully, but how about all those people who had no idea what they deal with....

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA (Barcode Properties) over 4 years ago

Many would be surprised to learn that many home buyers are completely in the dark about this important issue. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Hi Charles, I ran into asbestos remediation on many existing construction projects in NYC, where older buildings were being remodeled. Often it was not discovered until the interior demolition was underway and it would shut a project down for weeks or more. I often wonder the same - what are we doing today that we be smacking our foreheads for tomorrow?

Posted by Andre R. Aragon, Real Estate Photographer (Greater Tampa Real Estate Photographer) over 4 years ago

Charles, hopefully it is limited to the crawl space. Mitigating the problem should only be done by professionals.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 4 years ago

So sad. That is going to be somebody's dream house . . .  and they might buy it regardless. Buyers beware. Hire a good inspector. 

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 4 years ago

Put that mask on, there was a time when if less than a garbage bag full you did not have to call in the NASA looking space suit ghost busters with all the equipment parked in your yard at major ching ching per hour. Big business now to remove. Not so concerned when it was put in though.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 4 years ago

Asbestos creates a huge road block when it comes to household repairs. An inconvenience, yes. But it's necessary.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 4 years ago

John, they certainly have come back to haunt us in so many ways

Inna, I am sure that many lives were shortened over the years

Lenn, for sure.  Every time these materials a a deal breaker in a house built prior to 1900 shows that the people had no clue.

Andrea, of course now anyone remodeling some of this older stock should just assume it is there

Michael, in this case it will be in duckwork and pipes in the walls and attic

Charlie, thanks.  While home inspectors can never categorically say a material has asbestos we can give a heads up in some cases where it should be considered likely and then recommend testing

Andrew, even around here a homeowner can get a permit to deal with some of this stuff.

Suzanne, not to mention the sale of the place.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Your last sentence is so true.  Now we know asbestos is dangerous, but there could very well be things we are using today that may wind up being labeled as hazardous in the future.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 4 years ago

Kat, I just hope they aren't the bears that Asbestos and Lead have been.  Fiberglass insulation is one possibility.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Did you get hazardous duty pay for that inspection??

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 4 years ago

Robert, every day is hazardous duty

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Charles, that last line is one I often think about. What are we doing that will come back to bite us or the next generation? 

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 4 years ago

Well, we can't really know the answer to that can we?  I think we have gotten better at figuring out "unintended consequences" but there is no way to know if there is a bear in the woods until we figure out there is one in the woods---hopefully before he bites us in the arse.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Good Reminder Charles. I hope you at least had a respirator!

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) over 4 years ago

Juan, I went with the full-body condom

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

 

   "It makes one wonder what we do today that we are oblivious as to how it will affect future generations." -- Can you say, "DEFICIT"?  Or, "Fukishima"?

 

Posted by John J. Woods (Aardvark Appraisals) over 4 years ago

The planet will be paying for Fukishima for quite some time---and the deficit will need to be reinvented I think

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Charles-Asbestos-so many things look like good deals when discovered and employed, only later to find out the harmful effects.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) over 4 years ago

Wayne, so true---time sorts it all out

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Participate