If you live in an older home, you may have wondered, “Is there asbestos in my plumbing?” And with good reason. Asbestos is a dangerous substance that was used in a lot of construction materials prior to the 1970’s. If you live in an older home that was built prior to 1977, chances are there could be asbestos lurking in your plumbing. So what do you do? There is a lot of confusion about asbestos and plumbing. Here is what you need to know.
Asbestos is a heat resistant silicate fiber that can be woven into materials to make them fire resistant. It has been in use for centuries, and has been found as far back as 2000-3000 B.C. with Egyptian Pharaoh mummies being wrapped in it for preservation. Its more recent usage was ramped up in the late 1800’s during the industrial revolution. Praised for its fire resistance, it was used in everything from Sheetrock, roofing materials, flooring, pipe insulation, and more. It was prevalent in shipyards, and factories, and was heavily used until the 1970’s when it was banned in the US over health concerns. The associated health concerns of asbestos exposure were suspected prior to its ban, but its use wasn’t eliminated until 1977. Asbestos has been linked to several serious health conditions including: asbestosis, a severe condition where asbestos fibers enter the lungs and cause shortness of breath and chronic coughing, and mesothelioma, a serious type of cancer. These health conditions usually appear in individuals who work closely with asbestos, and have had long term exposure. These diseases usually appear years after exposure.
Asbestos was used in a lot of building materials throughout the early part of the 20th century. Where it affects your plumbing is in the materials surrounding your plumbing, like old linoleum flooring, in the insulation that may be covering your pipes, or it may be woven directly into the walls of your pipes. Asbestos was used because of its fire resistance, its non corrosive properties, its affordability and availability, and it was easy to work with.
If you find that there is asbestos in your plumbing you will want to have all plumbing repairs completed by a professional who is trained to handle asbestos. Proper remediation is a must, and is in fact mandated by the state. Any area that is being treated for asbestos must be properly sealed during work to prevent the fibers from spreading. Building materials being removed need to be wet to also prevent the fibers from spreading. In addition, workers need to wear proper protective great including face masks and protective clothing. The good news, it that just because asbestos is in your plumbing does not mean it poses an immediate threat. If left in tact, it poses no risk. It isn’t until it is disturbed that the particles can become airborne. So if repairs aren’t necessary and it is still intact, there is no cause for alarm. However, if you are planning on remodeling an older home with asbestos, please leave the job to the professionals. This is an area where you want the job done right, to protect your health and the integrity of your home. Having a professional make repairs, also ensures that you won’t be served any stop work orders or penalties from the city code enforcement agency. For more information on asbestos in your plumbing or to schedule an appointment contact Rooter Hero today!