Repairing and Restoring Objects and Buildings

Answers to 5 Top Asbestos Survey Questions

Asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen that was once used extensively in building materials as a fire retardant. A survey may be necessary to determine whether your home suffers from asbestos contamination. 

1. When Is a Survey Needed?

If your home was built before 1990, then getting a survey done is the best practice. Surveys should be completed when buying property or before commencing upon construction or renovations inside of the property, as asbestos is not dangerous until it is disturbed or freed into the air. If you know where asbestos is located, it's easier to plan the renovation safely.

2. Can Anyone Perform the Survey?

Only those that have undergone a complete course for asbestos inspections are able to perform an official survey. These professionals may go under different titles, such as asbestos assessor or occupational hygienist. Regardless of the chosen title, they must be able to provide you with an up-to-date certificate in order to verify their training and legitimacy to perform a proper survey.

3. Where Is Asbestos Typically Found?

Asbestos is most likely found in the form of bonded cement, which at one time was used extensively throughout a new home build. Common locations for asbestos include the fibro sheeting used in wall and ceiling construction, as a backing for flooring, in flue pipes, and in roofing tiles. There are other areas where asbestos may also be found, such as in drainage troughs or in insulated areas of the building.

4. How Is Testing Completed?

Your inspector will first survey the home for anything that appears to be at risk of asbestos. Small samples of any suspected asbestos-containing materials will be taken and then sent to a testing laboratory. These samples must be examined under magnification and with polarized light in order to verify whether they contain any asbestos fibres. Results are usually returned within a few days.

5. What Are the Follow-Up Options?

Mitigation may include removal or encasement, depending on your plans. If building and renovations are about to commence or if the asbestos is damaged and posing a contamination threat, then a professional asbestos removal firm must come in to remove the asbestos safely — this is not something that you can do yourself. If asbestos is found during a new home purchase but it is undamaged and properly sealed, then it can be left in place for the time being. The area may be further sealed to prevent future issues. 

Contact an asbestos survey service for more assistance if you have concerns about your home or building.