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Updated by steven-ernie-olsen on Dec 10, 2023
Headline for 10 Places Deadly Asbestos Could be Hiding in Your Home
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10 Places Deadly Asbestos Could be Hiding in Your Home

Discover the 10 most common places where asbestos might be lurking in your New Zealand home. This essential guide highlights key areas from ceiling tiles to electrical backing boards, providing crucial insights for homeowners undertaking renovations. Stay informed and ensure your home improvement projects are safe and asbestos-free!

1

Ceiling Tiles and Textured Ceilings

Many New Zealand homes built before the 1990s feature ceiling tiles or stipple (textured) ceilings, which might contain asbestos. These materials were popular for their fire-resistant and soundproofing qualities. However, they pose a significant health risk if disturbed during renovations or repairs. It's crucial to identify these potentially asbestos-containing materials before starting any ceiling work. If your ceiling tiles or textured coating appears old or you're unsure of its composition, it’s wise to have a sample tested by a certified professional. Remember, asbestos is only a risk if disturbed, so if it’s in good condition and not in a location where it's likely to get damaged, it might be safe to leave it in place. Consulting with experts ensures the right approach for handling, encapsulating, or safely removing these materials, keeping your renovation project and health on the safe side.

2

Vinyl Sheet Flooring and Tiles

Asbestos was commonly used in the backing of vinyl sheet flooring and floor tiles in New Zealand homes, particularly those built or renovated from the 1950s to the early 1980s. These floor coverings were favored for their durability and ease of installation. However, the asbestos content in the adhesive or the backing material can become hazardous during removal or if the flooring is worn or damaged. If you have older vinyl flooring, it's important to be cautious before ripping it up. Avoid sanding, drilling, or scraping the flooring, as these actions can release asbestos fibers into the air. Before any floor renovation, consider having a sample of the flooring and adhesive layer tested by a certified asbestos testing service. If asbestos is present, it's recommended to hire a licensed asbestos removalist to safely handle the material. Sometimes, it’s possible to lay new flooring over the old, effectively sealing in the asbestos, but this should be done under professional guidance to ensure safety and compliance with local health and safety regulations.

3

Cladding and Weatherboards

In New Zealand, many post-war homes were built using fiber cement cladding and weatherboards that may contain asbestos. This material was widely used for its durability and fire-resistant properties. However, if you're planning to renovate or remove old cladding from your house, it's crucial to be aware of the potential asbestos risk.

Asbestos in cladding is generally not a health risk if it's in good condition and left undisturbed. The danger arises when the material is cut, drilled into, or removed, as these actions can release harmful asbestos fibers into the air. If your home has cladding or weatherboards dating back to before the late 1980s, it's advisable to get them checked by an accredited asbestos professional.

In cases where asbestos is present, removal should not be a DIY project. It requires the expertise of licensed asbestos removalists who will follow strict safety guidelines to prevent contamination and exposure. They will also handle the safe disposal of the asbestos materials, as regular waste facilities do not accept asbestos-containing waste due to its hazardous nature. Taking these precautions ensures not only your safety but also that of your neighbors and the wider community.

4

Pipe Insulation

Older hot water pipes and HVAC ducts in many New Zealand homes were once insulated with asbestos-containing materials, due to its excellent heat-resistant properties. This type of insulation can often be found in basements, under floors, or in older heating systems. The asbestos in pipe insulation is particularly hazardous because it's often of the "friable" type, meaning it can easily crumble and release fibers into the air, posing a significant health risk.

If you suspect that your home has asbestos pipe insulation, it's vital not to touch or disturb it. The material can be easily damaged, releasing dangerous fibers. This is especially true for renovations that require access to areas where these pipes are located.

Homeowners should hire a professional asbestos surveyor to inspect and test the insulation. If asbestos is present, removal should only be done by a licensed asbestos removalist. They have the necessary equipment and expertise to safely remove and dispose of the material while ensuring the safety of both the occupants and the environment.

Remember, the key to handling asbestos is careful management and adherence to safety guidelines. Attempting to remove asbestos insulation on your own not only risks your health but also contravenes New Zealand's strict health and safety regulations.

5

Roofing Materials

Asbestos-containing roofing materials were commonly used in New Zealand homes until the 1980s. These materials, such as corrugated sheets, were popular for their durability and fire-resistant properties. However, when undertaking roof repairs or replacements, it's essential to consider the potential presence of asbestos, especially in older homes.

Asbestos in roofing is generally safe when it's intact and undisturbed. The risk arises when the roofing is damaged, deteriorating, or during removal, as these situations can release asbestos fibers into the air. If your home has an old roof that you suspect might contain asbestos, it's important to avoid any DIY work.

Before proceeding with any roofing project, it’s advisable to have a professional asbestos assessment. If asbestos is found, specialized removal and disposal are required. Licensed asbestos removal contractors have the skills and equipment to safely handle and dispose of asbestos roofing, complying with New Zealand's health and safety regulations. They also ensure that the removal process minimizes the risk of exposure to you and your neighbors.

Replacing an asbestos roof not only enhances the safety of your home but also provides an opportunity to upgrade to more energy-efficient and sustainable roofing materials. Remember, dealing with asbestos roofing requires a cautious and informed approach to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

6

Wall and Ceiling Plaster

In many New Zealand homes built from the 1940s to the 1980s, asbestos was frequently used in plaster for walls and ceilings. This was due to its fireproofing qualities and ability to add strength to the plaster. However, this poses a risk during renovations, particularly when sanding, cutting, or drilling into old plaster walls or ceilings.

If your home falls within this age bracket, and you're planning to renovate or modify wall and ceiling surfaces, it's important to consider the possibility of asbestos. Asbestos in plaster is not a concern unless the plaster is disturbed. Activities like drilling, cutting, or sanding can release asbestos fibers into the air, creating a health hazard.

Before beginning any work, it’s recommended to have the plaster material tested by an accredited laboratory. If asbestos is detected, professional handling is required. A certified asbestos removalist can safely manage the removal or sealing of the asbestos-containing plaster, ensuring that all health and safety guidelines are followed.

For homeowners, it's crucial not to undertake any invasive work on suspected asbestos-containing plaster without professional advice. Keeping safety in mind, it's always better to err on the side of caution and seek expert assistance when dealing with potential asbestos in your home.

7

Electrical Backing Boards

In older New Zealand homes, particularly those built before the 1990s, asbestos was often used in electrical switchboard backing boards. These backing boards were favored for their fire-resistant properties, providing a safety barrier in electrical systems. However, they can pose a significant health risk during renovations or electrical upgrades.

If your home has an original electrical panel and has not been updated for several decades, there's a possibility it contains asbestos. Disturbing these backing boards, such as by drilling or cutting during electrical work, can release asbestos fibers into the air.

Before any electrical renovation, it's important to have a licensed professional conduct an asbestos inspection of your switchboard and backing boards. If asbestos is present, a qualified electrician experienced in dealing with asbestos should perform any necessary work. They will take precautions to ensure that asbestos fibers are not released into the air, keeping the work environment safe.

For homeowners, it's crucial to recognize that handling electrical components already requires caution due to the risk of electric shock. The potential presence of asbestos adds another layer of risk, making it all the more important to rely on professionals for any work involving older electrical panels and backing boards. Ensuring these aspects are safely managed not only protects your health but also ensures the safety of your household and compliance with New Zealand's strict electrical and building codes.

8

Furnace and Hot Water Cylinder Insulation

In New Zealand homes built before the late 1980s, asbestos was commonly used to insulate furnaces and hot water cylinders. This use of asbestos was due to its excellent thermal properties, effectively reducing heat loss and increasing efficiency. However, this insulation can become a source of asbestos exposure during home renovations or when replacing old heating systems.

Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in furnace and hot water cylinder insulation are usually found in older homes. The risk arises when these ACMs are disturbed or deteriorate over time, releasing fibers into the air. It's particularly hazardous when removing old furnaces or hot water cylinders, as the disturbance can easily dislodge and aerosolize the fibers.

If you suspect that your home's heating system contains asbestos insulation, it’s vital to avoid any DIY removal. Instead, contact a certified asbestos professional to inspect and assess the situation. If asbestos is confirmed, the removal process should be carried out by licensed asbestos removal specialists. These professionals are equipped with the necessary tools and protective gear to safely remove and dispose of asbestos materials, ensuring no contamination occurs in your home.

Remember, safety is paramount when dealing with asbestos. Engaging professionals not only ensures your safety but also helps in adhering to New Zealand's health and safety regulations regarding asbestos handling and disposal.

9

Fencing

In many New Zealand homes, particularly those built in the mid-20th century, fencing materials may contain asbestos. A common type of fencing that used asbestos is the 'Super Six' corrugated sheeting. These sheets were widely used for their durability and fire-resistant properties. However, when renovating or replacing old fences, it's essential to consider the potential presence of asbestos, especially in homes built before the 1990s.

Asbestos in fencing is not usually a health risk when the material is in good condition and left undisturbed. The danger arises when the fencing is cut, broken, or removed, as these actions can release asbestos fibers into the air. If you have an older fence that you suspect might contain asbestos, it's important to avoid any DIY removal or cutting.

Before proceeding with any fencing project, it’s advisable to have a professional asbestos assessment. If asbestos is found, specialized removal and disposal are required. Licensed asbestos removal contractors have the skills and equipment to safely handle and dispose of asbestos fencing, complying with New Zealand's health and safety regulations. They also ensure that the removal process minimizes the risk of exposure to you and your neighbors.

Replacing an asbestos fence not only enhances the safety and aesthetic of your property but also provides an opportunity to upgrade to more environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. It’s important to handle potential asbestos-containing fencing with care and to rely on professionals for safe removal and disposal.

10

Window Putty

Window putty used in older New Zealand homes, particularly those constructed before the 1980s, may contain asbestos. This was used for its durability and effectiveness in sealing windows. However, during renovations or window replacements, disturbing this putty can release asbestos fibers into the air.

Asbestos in window putty typically becomes a concern when removing old windows or when the putty is chipped, sanded, or otherwise disturbed during maintenance. If your home has original windows with old putty, and you're planning any work on them, it's important to consider the potential for asbestos.

Before starting any work on these windows, it’s recommended to have a sample of the putty tested by a certified laboratory for asbestos content. If asbestos is present, it's advisable to hire a professional with experience in safely removing asbestos-containing materials. They will take appropriate measures to safely remove the putty, preventing asbestos fiber release and exposure.

It's crucial for homeowners to avoid DIY methods when dealing with old window putty that might contain asbestos. Professional removal not only ensures your safety but also adheres to New Zealand's health and safety standards, making sure that the job is done correctly and safely.