Asbestos is present in many of the surveys we undertake, particularly those of properties that were built between 1930 and 1980, or were otherwise worked on or converted into flats. Care needs to be taken if you have it, or suspect you have it, in your home. Asbestos can appear in the most unlikely of places and the HSE are very keen to make sure that you are aware of the hidden risks, and have launched their interactive web page.
Most asbestos legislation is geared towards asbestos in the workplace and there is little legislation that imposes obligations on homeowners, but it does place obligations upon employers (including building contractors employed by homeowners). Asbestos does represent a significant risk to health and should be managed carefully whatever the circumstance, particularly its disposal. Fly tipping or dumping of asbestos waste in the bottom of the skip where no-one will see is illegal and subject to punitive fine that may not stop at your contractor.
Generally speaking, we find asbestos during our surveys most often in the following locations:
- Roof soffits – take care if uPVC fascias has been fitted over the top and conceals the original, drilling through this could release fibres to air.
- Rainwater goods
- Cold water tanks
- Lining of boiler cupboard doors – especially warm air heating systems
- Ceiling linings – especially to integral garages
- Panels around older boilers, often fitted to kitchen units to protect them from heat
- Corrugated sheet roofs to garages
- Garages as a whole completely formed from asbestos sheet
- Artex and texture coatings
If in doubt do not ignore and ASK. Your life could quite literally depend on it.
Further reading about asbestos
- Blog: Asbestos in textured ceilings
- The Guardian – Asbestos: the hidden health hazard in millions of homes (1/5/11)
- HSE – Asbestos Essentials
(Originally published by Steve Way, 10 May 2011)