Asbestos thrives with the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” While asbestos-containing material (ACM) can exist in many places and substances in homes and businesses alike, the attic is a common one, especially unfinished ones in older homes. From concerns about air quality and asbestos exposure to risks of renovation, it’s important to understand what the most common attic ACMs are and why they were put there in the first place.
Asbestos Attic Insulation
Asbestos has two primary qualities that made it a prime choice for insulation before its health concerns were made public. First, it was a natural insulator, the fibrous strands trapping air and being naturally resistant to heat stopped the transfer of heat inside or outside of the building, depending on the season. Secondly, being a fire-resistant material, it could be used to help fireproof homes. Asbestos attic insulation generally comes in 4 forms:
- Asbestos Block Insulation: Much like modern standard insulation, asbestos block insulation was produced in blocks and rolls and cut to fit attics, usually held in place by paper backings or covered with finished walls.
- Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation: An “easy-in” insulation for unfinished attics and crawlspaces, the asbestos insulation was poured or blown to settle on the floor.
- Contaminated Vermiculite Insulation: A type of loose fill insulation, vermiculite itself is not hazardous. Instead, the mines it was pulled from could often be contaminated by asbestos, causing the same health issues.
- Spray-On Asbestos Insulation: A more industrial version of insulation, asbestos and other materials were mixed with an adhesive and hosed on to walls, ceiling, and load-bearing More common in industrial buildings or residential outbuilding like garages.
Learn more about asbestos insulation in this blog, Types of Asbestos Insulation in Buildings.
Other Asbestos Materials in the Upstairs
In addition to insulation, there are several other ACMs that can be present in attics, both finished and unfinished:
- Construction Materials: Materials like drywall and joint compound, as well as other corrugated wall materials.
- Ceilings and Tiles: Both popcorn ceilings (and other textured ceilings) and drop ceiling tiles can contain asbestos.
- Roofing Shingles and Felt: Cement asbestos shingles are common in older buildings, as well as asbestos felt made from pressed ACMs.
- Electrical Insulation: Lastly, for attics that have extensive wiring, asbestos can be found in electrical insulation as well as electrical devices such as breaker boxes.
Interested in finding about asbestos in other parts of your home? Check out our blog, Asbestos in Your House: A Breakdown Floor by Floor. If you’re curious if your home or business contains asbestos, especially if you’re looking to renovate, buy, or sell, it’s time to contact the professionals. Fiber Control, Inc. are experts in asbestos inspection and abatement. Contact us today to learn about your options when it comes to removing asbestos from your home and business.