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Affordable Solutions to Asbestos Removal

by Debra Karplus

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If you are living in a home built before the mid-1970s, there's a high probability that asbestos lurks, most likely in the basement. According to This Old House, asbestos was commonly used in homes from the 1940s through the 1970s until it was banned around 1977. Asbestos was considered to be a highly effective and inexpensive fire retardant and a thermal and acoustic insulator. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests you know the facts about asbestos in your home and know your options. Before you are convinced you will certainly get lung cancer or mesothelioma from asbestos, learn what to do to put your mind at ease.

Option # 1: Do Nothing

The risk with asbestos in your home comes from breathing the particles. Experts say that if you think it is asbestos that is covering some of the water pipes along the basement ceiling, it likely is asbestos. However, there's no need to panic. If the asbestos appears to be intact, doing nothing may be your best option, but if the asbestos appears to be disintegrating, crumbling, or falling off the pipe, that's when you run the risk of breathing in the microscopic asbestos particles. Carefully give it a visual inspection and do not touch it even with a protective glove for fear of loosening some of the asbestos particles.

Option # 2: Containment

Experts say that it is perfectly acceptable to have asbestos that is exposed in your home encapsulated or contained. By containing it, particles cannot get loose. Therefore, your lungs will not be at risk. You can hire a professional to do the job for approximately $500 per pipe, depending on the length of the pipe, the amount of asbestos, and the going rate for this sort of work in your geographic location.

There is much controversy among the authorities as to whether asbestos containment should be a do-it-yourself job. If not done properly, it can put your lungs at great risk. Know what you are doing before embarking on this project. There is much online that tells you how to safely encapsulate asbestos. Always wear thick protective gloves and a respiratory mask, which is much more substantial that a regular dust mask. Wear old clothing that you won't mind disposing of after the project is complete. Wrap a thick cover over the pipe that contains the asbestos and use something like duct tape to seal it into position.

Option # 3: Removal

Some professionals will charge considerably more for removal than for containment, but some will charge the same amount. If the amount for asbestos removal is about the same as the cost of containment, definitely have it removed. Someday, it could make it easier to sell your home if it is essentially asbestos-free.

Should a homeowner attempt to remove asbestos without hiring a professional with the goal to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars? Again, professionals don't agree on whether a novice should take on asbestos removal. The basic trick to safely removing asbestos (in addition to wearing proper protective gloves, mask, and clothing) is to work slowly and keep the asbestos very wet, keeping the particles from getting into the air.

If you do attempt to remove it yourself, expect to run into one very major snag, namely disposal of the asbestos that you remove. The Environmental Protection Agency has some extremely stringent requirements for the disposal of asbestos in special landfills that non-professionals cannot access.

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Hiring a Professional

So how do you find someone who knows what they are doing and can safely contain or remove asbestos from the water pipes in your basement? Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a simple task. Start by searching online using the name of your town as a keyword as well as "asbestos removal." Also, contact some of the repair people who may have worked on your home in the past like carpenters, electricians, plumbers or heating and air conditioning professionals to see if they know someone that removes residential asbestos.

Because even the thought of asbestos can get people into a panic, try to hire someone who comes with a personal recommendation; you don't want him/her to take advantage of you. If you discover asbestos in your home, relax and use reason in making your home a safer place.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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