The Home Inspector’s Guide to Asbestos

safety goggles and gas mask laying next to broken up asbestos

Not sure if your home contains asbestos? Check out our Home Inspector’s Guide to Asbestos and find out if your home needs to be tested.


What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring minerals that are made up of durable fibers. The fibers are microscopic (.02 the diameter of a human hair) and resistant to fire and most chemical reactions. Asbestos was a very popular building material from the 1950s to the 1990s and was used as an insulator for building materials to fireproof protective gear. It was also used in roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products, and automotive parts.


Why is asbestos a hazard?

Asbestos is a health hazard because it can potentially cause lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, and pleura. When the microscopic fibers are inhaled or swallowed, they can get trapped in the abdomen lining and the heart cavity lining. Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers and can take 20-50 years to appear after the first exposure.


How to check for asbestos in your home

According to Asbestos Network, a visual inspection is not sufficient enough to determine if your home contains asbestos. Samples of the asbestos fibers should be collected by a certified asbestos professional so you can minimize asbestos exposure for you and your family. After they’re collected, they should be sent to a lab for analysis.

Note: areas with asbestos such as walls, floor tiling, and roof shingles should not be disturbed—these surfaces typically only release asbestos dust when they are moved, so do not move them.


What to do if asbestos is found

If you find asbestos in your home, it needs to be removed properly. If not done properly, there is a high risk of fiber release.

A certified asbestos professional will use the best method for removing asbestos from your home. It depends where it’s found, the condition of the material, and if it’s friable or non-friable. If it’s friable, it can easily crumble and release into the air. If it’s non-friable, it’s more tightly bound and may not be dangerous until it starts to deteriorate later on.


Not sure if your home contains asbestos? Contact your local BPG Inspector for a home inspection.

We’re here to help.