Dear PoPville – asbestos insulation

Photo by PoPville flickr user idit.

“Dear PoPville,

Does anyone have experience either removing the asbestos insulation that covers the hot water pipes that go to the radiators, or repairing that type of insulation? The coating of our insulation looks like it has a few small tears in it, but also some exposed sections around the pipe joints. Someone suggested plastering over the insulation and painting the plaster, but I’m not sure this is something we want to do ourselves or if it is the right solution. Any contractor recommendations and/or estimated costs would also be helpful.


7 Comment

  • don’t bother trying to do it yourself – you will only make matters worse. I can steer you to reputable asbestos abatement companies who can remove and dispose of the asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) appropriately. For an average size furnace room with, say, 20 feet of insulated pipe, it will cost you about $950 (based on a daily rate).

    If you elect to remove the ACMs yourself (which you are allowed to do if it is in your home – you can’t do it as a part time job in someone else’s home unless you are licensed) you still have to dispose of the asbestos debris – that cannot go out with your regular trash – it must go to a certified landfill.

    Call Mr. Hardy at ECC, Inc. (703) 327-2900 if you have questions.

  • As an expert HGTV watcher, if the covering of the asbestos insulation is broken, any expert you talk to will advise having it all removed.

    Removing asbestos is a big deal, and you will need to hire a licensed business to do it, which will involve taping off rooms in the house, using big HEPA fans to suck the pariculates out, and all sorts of hassle.

    Thankfully I have never had to go through such a procedurte, so I will have to leave recommendations to other commenters. But asbestos is a pretty closely regulated business, so you should not have to worry about competence too much.

  • bfinpetworth

    yep, pay someone to remove it. Not only will it make your life while living in the house healthier and less stressful, it will also make selling the house easier when you decide to sell. Just bit the bullet and get rid of it professionally.

  • The key to asbestos remediation, whether you do it yourself or hire the job out, is controlling the fibrous material, which is done by wetting it down. Sometimes its done with a light sprayer or by wrapping wet newspaper or something else around the insulation so it can be soaked before removing it. You don’t want to use a fan because you don’t want to stir up the fibers. The main health issue from asbestos exposure is lung disease, ie. mesothelioma and/or pulmonary fibrosis caused by inhaling the fibers.
    If you’re seeing that the covering on the insulation has been compromised, make sure that none of the fibers have fallen down to the area below or are being transported around your house. If you remediate the asbestos yourself, in addition to proper disposal of the material, you also should purchase and wear a HEPA moonsuit and respirator. The suit and shoes and anything used in the cleanup should also be disposed of properly, along with the asbestos, in double plastic bags that are clearly marked.
    If you hire out, you do have to worry about competence. While asbestos is highly regulated, unscrupulous contractors frequently hire, but don’t train, people to remove asbestos, and often these people speak little or no English and aren’t aware of the dangers. So, like Gladys says, a licensed asbestos or environmental contractor is best and will probably cost you around $1,000.

  • “Sigh”

    Asbestos has become one of those things taken completely out of hand by class action lawsuits and overly ridiculous mothers.

    Listen, if you spent a career mining asbestos or in shipbuilding before 1975, then yes you might have a problem. Folks who mined the stuff 40% increase in cancer risk after 15 years. Do you really think you are at risk removing a little asbestos from a ~20 pipe?

    It is like the difference between someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 20 years, and the guy who smoked one cigarette the day his kid was born.

    Taking up the occasional friable floor tile or pipe removal is truly nothing to be concerned about.

    Only a rube with money to burn blows $1,000 bucks having someone else buy a $1.50 face mask and remove the asbestos from his basement furnace piping.

    Here is a mindbender to you, until 2006 Metrorail’s train brake pads (as most car brakes were before 1999) were asbestos and the average person was exposed to more airborne asbestos in an underground metro station as a train slowed than they are in a year of regular day to day exposure.

    Buy a face mask and do it yourself if you want. Better solution, leave it in place. Asbestos becomes problematic only when it is disturbed.

    • As someone who worked in asbestos abatement for a while you are very mistaken and offering dangerous advice. A cheap facemask is ridiculous, nothing short of a half-face HEPA filter (not sure of the micron size, but I remember them being purple) is sufficient because the particles are so small, which is what makes them so hazardous.

  • Blue asbestos is dangerous!
    White asbestos is not!
    The world is covered in asbestos and we breath it in every day….it does us no harm!
    It is only if you work with asbestos on a daily basis that you should worry.
    If you are concerned leave it be, it will do you no harm.
    If you attack asbestos with power tools, grinders,, saws, drills it will produce dust but, a short exposure means nothing, think of all the mechanics that have worked with brake shoes and pads are they all ill.

Comments are closed.