Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.
This month, we talk asbestos with Dan Dunne, Manager at CAZ Environmental in Bellingham.
Q1: In your experience how common is asbestos in our area?
“Because of its unique properties of being fireproof, chemically resistant, waterproof, and durable, asbestos was deliberately mixed into thousands of different building materials. We commonly see asbestos in popcorn ceiling, vinyl floors, drywall and drywall mud, roofing, fire blocking, mastics, attic insulation, siding, stucco, window caulking, heating ducts, and water pipes.”
Q2: Even though 1978 was the cutoff year for asbestos, do you recommend testing homes with “popcorn” textured ceilings constructed in the 1980s tested, too?
“A common misconception is that asbestos is banned in the United States. A wide variety of products are allowed to contain asbestos and be manufactured, imported, processed, or sold in the U.S., including cement corrugated sheet, cement flat sheet, clothing, pipeline wrap, roofing felt, vinyl floor tile, cement shingle, millboard, cement pipe, gaskets, and roof coatings.
“Many manufacturers have stopped adding asbestos to their products, even if allowed, due to the clear link between asbestos and lung disease. However, asbestos mines in Asbest (Russia) and Gansu Province (China), continue to produce more than a million metric tons of chrysotile per year.
“The continued use of asbestos is part of the reason why any building material that is disturbed or demolished is required to be tested for asbestos and, if positive, to be removed by a certified asbestos abatement contractor.”
Q3: What is the typical cost for an asbestos test and how long does it take to get results?
“Asbestos tests cost $500-$1500 per home, depending on the number of materials in the home that need to be sampled. We also process samples that are dropped off at our office for $50 per sample. Results are generally available the next business day. Asbestos removal in a home can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000, depending on the type and amount of material being removed, and how easy it is to access.”
About CAZ Environmental
CAZ Environmental was founded in 2013 with a mission to protect the health and safety of its clients, employees, and public throughout Northwest Washington. The company works with 13 employees to sample and remove asbestos, lead, and mold in residential, commercial and industrial settings that range from mobile homes to mansions.
If there is one thing Dan Dunne recommends, it’s this: When in doubt, get it tested.
“Whether you are a property owner, contractor, or handyman, the fines, lawsuits, and medical issues that result from improperly removing or disposing of asbestos can quickly ruin your day,” he said. A big “thanks” to Dan and CAZ Environmental for their responses!
Questions or comments about asbestos or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).
Textured “popcorn” ceilings, like that pictured here, could contain asbestos, especially in homes constructed prior to 1978. Because some sheetrock and painting contractors kept stores of this material into the early 1980s, it’s possible that textured “popcorn” ceilings in the 1980s could contain asbestos as well. Provided the material is in good condition and not delaminating from the ceiling, this isn’t a health concern because it’s not considered “friable,” e.g., you can’t breathe it. But if you intend to remodel (or scrape) “popcorn” ceilings, or it they’re in poor condition, testing is advised. Asbestos can only be confirmed by laboratory testing. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
If you have insulation in your attic that looks like this picture, it may be vermiculite insulation. This type of insulation could contain asbestos. Testing for asbestos is outside the scope of the home inspection and requires laboratory sampling. Here’s a link (click HERE) to the EPA brochure with more information about vermiculite insulation. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.