What to do if you are Buying or Selling a Property with Asbestos
If you’re in the process of buying and selling a property and find asbestos, it may generate sentiments of fear. But finding asbestos isn’t always a deal-breaker. Learn what asbestos is, why it can be a hazard in certain circumstances, what to do if asbestos is discovered in a property.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that in the past was used as a flame-retardant strengthening agent that provided heat insulation. From 1930 to 1980, asbestos was used in a number of property building materials including but not limited to:
• Roofing, shingles, and siding.
• Insulation (common in homes built in the 1930s to 1950s).
• Textured paint.
• Patching and joint compounds.
• Vinyl sheet flooring.
• Hot water and steam pipes.
Is Asbestos Harmful?
Asbestos can be harmful when disrupted, causing abrasions on the lungs when inhaled. Exposure to large doses or for long periods has been linked to an elevated risk of lung cancer, specifically, mesothelioma and asbestosis. After the potential harm was discovered, manufacturers stopped using asbestos in building materials, but the asbestos is still commonly found in homes predating the 1980s.
Asbestos is only harmful when disturbed, damaged, or in deteriorating condition. If asbestos is in good condition or undisturbed, the asbestos fibres do not become airborne, thus eliminating the potential hazard asbestos can cause.
What to do if you find Asbestos in a Property
1. Do not disturb the asbestos (including vacuuming, sweeping, or attempting to remove the asbestos yourself).
2. Contact a professional inspector to assess the hazard and presence.
3. Have a licensed professional complete any remediation or abatement work.
Finding asbestos in a property is fairly common, considering its broad use in home construction and building materials for such a long period of time. Rather than fearing it, be informed on how to deal with it. And if you’re the buyer, you can use the costs of any potential remediation or abatement as a negotiating tool
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