What to Do When You Suspect the Presence of Asbestos During a Property Inspection

Material around a pipe that contains asbestos.
Asbestos Inspection and Removal

Many time home inspectors discover possible presence of asbestos materials in older homes during routine inspections. When home inspectors suspect asbestos is present, they will recommend further inspection from an asbestos professional who is trained in the handling and positive identification of asbestos material. The type of professional will depend on the type of product and what needs to be done to correct the problem.

  1. Make sure that the inspection will include a complete visual examination and the careful collection and lab analysis of samples.
  2. If asbestos is present, the inspector should provide a written evaluation describing its location and extent of damage and give recommendations for correction or prevention.
  3. Many times, reputable inspectors may determine material in good condition need not be sampled unless it is likely to be disturbed.
  4. It is recommended that professionals hired to inspect and assess the need for corrective action should not be connected with the actual certified asbestos-correction firm.
  5. Make sure an inspecting firm that you hire makes frequent site visits to assure that a contractor follows proper procedures and requirements.
  6. The inspector should recommend and performance checks after the correction to assure that the area has been thoroughly cleaned. 

At Old Line Home Inspections, even if we find potential asbestos during a visual inspection of your home there is no reason to panic. First, visual inspections are not sufficient to determine if your home contains asbestos. Second, asbestos does not need to be removed if a qualified technician determines that it is tightly bound and has little or no risk of releasing fibers into the air. Only if a certified asbestos inspector determines that repair and/or removal is needed should you move on to hiring a qualified asbestos contractor to take corrective action.

Asbestos-containing material underneath a carpet
Hiring Professional Asbestos Inspectors

If a qualified professional asbestos inspector determines you have a problem that requires the services of asbestos professionals, check their credentials carefully like you would any other contractor but keep in mind the following:

  • Cost estimates are needed from several asbestos removal professionals, as the charges for these services can vary more than most other services.
  • Homeowners should be aware of misleading claims by asbestos consultants and contractors. Some asbestos materials do not need to be removed and some firms have encouraged unnecessary removal or performed mitigation techniques improperly.
  • In addition to general asbestos contractors, you may select a roofing, flooring or plumbing contractor trained to handle asbestos when it is necessary to remove and replace roofing, flooring, siding or asbestos-cement pipe that is part of a water system. Normally, roofing and flooring contractors are exempt from state and local licensing requirements because they do not perform any other asbestos-correction work. 
  • Insist that the contractor use the proper equipment to do the job. The workers must wear approved respirators, gloves, and other protective clothing.
  • Before work begins, get a written contract specifying the work plan, cleanup, and the applicable federal, state and local regulations which the contractor must follow (such as notification requirements and asbestos disposal procedures).
  • Assure that the contractor avoids spreading or tracking asbestos dust into other areas of your home. They should seal off the work area from the rest of the house using plastic sheeting and duct tape as well as turning of the heating and air conditioning system.
  • Make sure the work site is marked as a hazardous area. Do not allow any members of the household or pets into the area until work is completed.
  • Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges and/or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum cleaner must never be used. Wetting helps reduce the chance of spreading asbestos fibers in the air.

At Old Line Home Inspections, we see older homes with asbestos materials from time to time. As home inspectors, we can advise what type of asbestos professional is needed to address the problem. In the end, it is a good idea to consult a real estate professional as to the best course of action treating a home you are trying to buy or sell. If you have any questions please contact Andrew Winnard at Old Line Home Inspections at (410) 236-3027 or click here to schedule an appointment.