One of the questions we get most often from homebuyers in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex who are looking to purchase a home is whether asbestos testing is a regular part of a home inspection.
Testing for asbestos would actually require taking a sample – and that means cutting into walls, floors, roof, or other areas that may be suspected to contain asbestos. Putting holes in your home is definitely something that your home inspector will not do during your home inspection, and because of this the short answer is no, we do not perform asbestos testing during a home inspection. Testing for asbestos requires taking multiple, random samples from the area suspected of containing asbestos, so this often results in multiple homes cut into a floor, wall, ceiling, etc. But what we can do when we provide your thorough home inspection report is note areas of the home that may contain asbestos, so that you can decide if you then want or need to have those areas tested further.
In most cases, if materials containing asbestos are not disturbed, they also don’t need replaced. In fact, the very process of replacing asbestos-containing materials can cause issues and health precautions would need to be taken. When testing becomes critical is before any type of home remodeling or repair. Repairing drywall, removing “popcorn” ceiling texture or replacing old flooring materials are a few examples of simple DIY projects that could result in contaminating the home and exposing the occupants to asbestos. So if you purchase a home and decide to undertake any type of projects that could potentially disturb materials containing asbestos, asbestos testing is recommended before you begin.
But do NOT try to take samples for testing yourself unless specifically instructed how to do so; you don’t want to risk exposure.
Here is where asbestos is most often found in a home:
- Some roofing and siding shingles are made of asbestos cement.
- Houses built between 1930-1950 may have insulation containing asbestos.
- Asbestos may be present in textured paint and patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints. (Their use was banned in 1977.)
- Artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces may contain asbestos.
- Older products such as stove-top pads may have some asbestos compounds.
- Walls and floors surrounding woodburning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
- Asbestos is found in some vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives.
- Hot water and steam pipes in older houses may be coated with an asbestos material or covered with asbestos tape.
- Oil and coal furnaces and door gaskets may have asbestos insulation.
More information about asbestos can be found on the EPA website.
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