Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Due to its strength and fire resistance, asbestos was used in a wide range of building materials and products between the 1930s and the mid-1980s. If your home was built or refurbished during this time, it may contain some form of asbestos. Homes built after 2000 are very unlikely to contain asbestos.
Where might asbestos be found in your home?
The most common area where asbestos is likely to be found is contained in artex. Artex is a textured ceiling coating that was widely used in houses and contained small amounts of asbestos. Artex is safe as long as it is not disturbed as the asbestos is highly bonded within the artex, and doesn’t release fibres easily. This will allow you to repaint it if necessary, as long as you do not drill, saw, sand, or scrape the artex.
Asbestos can also be found in the following areas:
Bath Panels/toilet cisterns, corrugated roof sheets on sheds or garages, soffits (roofline boards), guttering, downpipes, and soil pipes, boilers, boxing to soil pipes, floor tiles, textured decorative coatings e.g. artex, window cills, panels beneath windows, roofing felt, water tanks, panels to fire doors, panels behind fires heaters and boilers, partition walls, between partitions
What are the risks?
The Health and Safety Executive says that:
“Asbestos is not a risk if it is in good condition and not disturbed. Asbestos only poses a risk if it becomes damaged and its fibres are released into the air and breathed in.”
Most people are exposed to the low amounts of asbestos present in the atmosphere with no ill effects. Asbestos fibres and dust are however potentially very dangerous if inhaled in higher concentrations over time when they can cause serious lung diseases including cancer. The symptoms of these diseases often may not appear for between 15 – 30 years after asbestos exposure.
If you think you have asbestos in your home what should I do?
Asbestos does not pose a risk if it remains in good condition and not disturbed. If you think any material containing asbestos is present or may have been damaged:
- Leave it alone: it is safe unless it is disturbed or damaged.
- Seek professional advice. Contact us and we will arrange for someone to determine whether the material contains asbestos and how to deal with it safely. Sometimes it will be necessary to take a sample to identify the type of asbestos.
- Please be aware – only suitably trained and qualified persons are permitted to sample or undertake a survey in your home.
- Do not attempt to remove any form of asbestos by yourself.
What are my responsibilities as a Contract Holder?
If asbestos is identified then it will either be removed in the case of any planned maintenance programmes or left where it is if it remains in good condition and is not likely to be damaged or easily disturbed. If the material is damaged or is a high risk due to its location, we will take action to have it removed or encapsulated.
What are we doing about asbestos?
We keep a record of all the known asbestos in our properties. As we do work on homes the asbestos will be removed safely. We have fully qualified staff who also carry out testing on any suspected surfaces before work starts.
If you plan to do minor work which does not require our permission such as putting up shelves or fixtures that could involve any drilling, sawing, sanding and you are unsure whether asbestos is present then please contact us. We will arrange, if necessary, a sample of the affected area that you are going to work on (if we have not surveyed your home) to identify if asbestos is present and tell you what needs to be done before work can start. If you do work without our approval you will be charged for the cost of dealing with any asbestos incidents. Please remember that you are not allowed to carry out structural changes to your home.