It is easy to find yourself three hours into a home-makeover show marathon and starting to daydream about completing a renovation project of your own. While these shows can certainly be both motivational and inspiring, they often miss a lot of the nitty gritty details of the renovation process by shrinking everything down to fit in their one-hour time slot. Commonly not presented in the edited version of the renovation is the process of asbestos testing and removal. In older homes built there are several kinds of materials that may contain asbestos. Renovations that disturb these materials can release harmful asbestos fibers into the air. To keep yourself and your family safe, keep an eye out for these common sources of asbestos in your potential fixer upper.

  • Insulation
    • The EPA encourages homeowners to assume that any vermiculate insulation in homes built between 1920 and 1980 is asbestos containing and to treat it with extreme caution.
  • Walls and Ceilings
    • The texture on walls and ceilings (popcorn) can contain asbestos. Compounds used on top of and between drywall can also be asbestos.
  • Windows
    • Because of asbestos’s properties for strengthening and fireproofing, it was often used in the putties used around windows.
  • Fireplaces
    • Asbestos may have been used as a fire protectant in walls and floors around fireplaces. It may also be contained in the embers, ashes, and logs of newer faux fireplaces.
  • Siding and Shingles
    • Asbestos was used to strengthen the siding, stucco, and shingles used on homes.
  • Flooring
    • Asbestos tiles were easy to install, cheap, and durable so they were widely used. Asbestos was also used as a strengthening agent in the glue used to install them.
  • Heating and Ventilation
    • Asbestos was used to insulate pipes, vents, HVAC lines, boilers, and water heaters.
  • Roofing materials
    • Asbestos fibers found their way into roofing tar, asphalt liquids, felt and underlayment, caulking, mastic and sealant, cement shingles, flashings and vents.

If it is possible you have any of these common asbestos sources, have an inspection done before you start any renovation projects. Properly identifying and caring for asbestos can ensure the success and safety of your project.
For an interactive map of these common asbestos sources visit: