The general rule of thumb is that if your home was built prior to 1980 there is a high possibility that Asbestos was used somewhere in its construction. This could have been in tape joints in drywall, plaster, textured ceilings, suspended ceiling tiles, floor tile, pipe insulation, fire stops, or attic insulation among other places.
Generally, you can’t tell whether a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it, unless it is labeled. If in doubt, treat the material as if it contains asbestos and leave it alone.
Get it tested
However what if:
- You are planning to remodel your home? or
- Your home has damaged building materials?
In both these cases you will be playing safe if you have samples taken by a trained professional to identify if you have a problem, with Asbestos containing materials, or more importantly, not.
Avoid a conflict of interest.
An asbestos professional hired to assess the need for asbestos repair or removal should not be connected with an asbestos firm that does the actual repair or removal of materials. It is better to use two different firms so there is no conflict of interest.
What decides if Asbestos is present?
As part of the sampling process, our Inspectors take three samples of the area of concern. This is required to ensure that the likelihood of asbestos in the building materials has been tested as thoroughly as possible with the minimal amount of damage. It’s also the minimum amount required by legislators in Ontario to allow a tester to confidently make the decision if a material is unlikely to contain Asbestos.
We then send the samples to a laboratory that has specialist teams to identify Asbestos. Our process with the lab is such that each sample is tested in turn, and if Asbestos is found, the sampling process stops. This reduces the cost to you if the tests are positive.
If no Asbestos is found in a sample, the lab goes onto the next sample, until all three are tested negative. Negative results cost the most from a testing perspective, but they give you the greatest confidence of the probability of an Asbestos free material.
If Asbestos is found in any sample, then testing stops and you are refunded the costs of any sample paid for that isn’t tested. Once Asbestos is found there is no reason for us, or the lab to continue to test and charge you. Remediation or corrective action, as desired, would now be required on your part.
At this point, for slightly damaged asbestos-containing material, sometimes the best way to deal with it is to limit access to the area and not to touch or disturb it. If asbestos-containing material is more than slightly damaged or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a trained and accredited asbestos professional is needed.
Checking any work has been done right
After any removal or repair work has been completed, our inspectors can return and do air sampling to ensure the remediators have done their job right.
Because we are independent from any remediators, you can be assured that we will not “fudge” any figures to say work is complete and the air is safe if it is not.
Again, watch for any conflict of interest. Remediators should not provide you with the air sampling either before or after any work. Keep the sampling independent.