Asbestos DOs and DON’Ts For Homeowners

  • Do keep activities to a minimum in any areas having damaged material that may contain asbestos.
  • Do take every precaution to avoid damaging asbestos material.
  • Do have removal and major repair done by people trained and qualified in handling asbestos. It is highly recommended that sampling and minor repair also be done by asbestos professionals.
  • Don’t dust, sweep, or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
  • Don’t saw, sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos materials.
  • Don’t use abrasive pads or brushes on power strippers to strip wax from asbestos flooring or its backing. Never use a power stripper on a dry floor.
  • Don’t sand or try to level asbestos flooring or its backing. When asbestos flooring needs replacing, install new floor covering over it, if possible.
  • Don’t track material that could contain asbestos through the house. If you cannot avoid walking through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area, or if a large area must be cleaned, call an asbestos professional.

How to Manage an Asbestos Problem

If the asbestos material is in good shape and will not be disturbed, do nothing! If it is a problem, there are two types of corrections: repair and removal.

REPAIR usually involves either sealing or covering asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) involves treating the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibres together or coats the material so fibres are not released. Pipe, furnace, and boiler insulation can sometimes be repaired this way. This should be done only by a professional trained to handle asbestos safely.

Covering (enclosure) involves placing something over or around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibres. Exposed insulated piping may be covered with a protective wrap or jacket.

With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor.

No better material has been found, or manufactured, that is as versatile as asbestos. However, due to the serious health issues involved in asbestos use, a number of substitute materials are utilized. A variety of different manufactured fibers have replaced asbestos in many applications. These include carbon fiber, cellulose fiber, ceramic fiber, glass fiber and steel fiber. Other minerals, such as wollastonite, are used for some applications.

For many years, asbestos was called the magic mineral because of its unique nature and widespread usefulness. The word itself comes from the Greek word for incombustible. The mineral’s fire retardant qualities are among its most valuable characteristics. This led to its wide use in ships, buildings and theater curtains, where protection against fire was essential. In addition to its fire retardant properties, it has other qualities which make it useful, including: a fibrous nature, heat stability, thermal and electrical resistance, flexibility, high tensile strength and stability in acids.

The past year saw the astoundingly popular Home Renovation Tax Credit, where Ontario homeowners could receive tax credits of up to $1,350 for renovating their homes. While that’s over and done with, the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program, Home Energy Assistance Toronto and Canada’s ecoENERGY Rebate Program offer Ontario homeowners up to $11,000 in rebates and grants when they renovate their home with energy-efficiency in mind. These programs don’t expire for another year, and will likely see a lot more Ontarians renovating their older homes.

Call Metro Contract Management Inc. 905.544.1125