Did you recently discover asbestos in your house or apartment building? Are you unsure of what to do next? There's no doubt that exposure to asbestos fibres can lead to serious respiratory problems. However, asbestos fibres are usually only exposed if the asbestos is damaged or crumbling. If the asbestos is in good condition, there's probably little risk to it being in place. That often presents a dilemma for many property owners. If the asbestos isn't damaged, is it better to remove it or manage it? And what happens if the asbestos becomes damaged in the future? You generally have three options for managing the asbestos in your building.
Remove the asbestos. This is a common action that many people take when they learn asbestos is present. However, it's not always the right solution. First, asbestos removal is costly. Depending on where the asbestos is, you may have to remove parts of your floor, walls, roof or other structural elements so the removal team can access the material. Second, the removal process could actually damage the asbestos and release fibres into your air and ventilation system. That could do more damage than good.
If you think it's likely the asbestos will become damaged in the future, it may be best to remove it. Damage often happens during renovations. If a remodel is in your future, go ahead and remove the asbestos. Otherwise, you may want to consider other options.
Encapsulation. One good management option is to encapsulate the asbestos. Encapsulation involves a liquid that is applied to the asbestos and prevents fibres from ever being released, even if the asbestos becomes damaged in the future. Encapsulation can be a very cost-effective solution. There are two possible issues with encapsulation, though. One is that the liquid used may not adhere to your asbestos. This can often happen if the asbestos is in an area of the home that is exposed to moisture. Also, your asbestos may just be difficult to encapsulate. This is common when the asbestos is part of blown-in insulation, which is spread throughout a home's walls.
Enclosure. The final option is to build a physical enclosure around the asbestos. This enclosure may be a pipe or drywall box that prevents fibres from being released into the rest of the home. The enclosure is often lined on the inside with a membrane that provides additional protection. This may be more costly than encapsulation but it's likely less expensive than having the asbestos removed.
Talk to an asbestos removal expert, such as McMahon Services, about your options. They can help you either remove the asbestos or install an effective management system.