Asbestos, the so-called “miracle mineral” for much of the 20th century, was not a material used by itself. Generally a fairly brittle silicate, asbestos was instead added to other materials due to three major properties: its high heat resistance for fire-proofing, it’s insulative properties, and its sound-deadening effects. These, combined with a low cost, means that asbestos was used in a lot of construction materials. How many? Let’s take a look at common uses throughout the home, from the basement to the attic of a home.
The Basement: Boilers, Pipes, and HVAC
- Boilers and Pipes Insulation: Asbestos could commonly be found in insulation for hot water heaters and pipes, from asbestos permeated cloth to decaying wood fiber insulating boards.
- HVAC and Ducts: Just like with hot water, asbestos could be used for hot air, including wrapped insulation for ducts and even asbestos-cement pipes.
- Fuse Box and Electrical: The fire-resistant properties of asbestos made it a natural choice to insulate high-voltage electronics like fuse and breaker boxes, as well as electrical lines.
Main Floors: Floors, Ceilings, and Walls
- Linoleum and Vinyl Flooring and Tiles: Asbestos was introduced to linoleum and vinyl flooring for a variety of reasons, from fire resistance to appearance. It also was found in the glue and mastics used to hold the materials in place.
- Drywall and Joint Compound: Asbestos was found in both drywall, and the joint compound used to join them, for both its properties and cheap price tag.
- Wall Texturing and Popcorn Ceilings: Asbestos was often used to add texture and provide some sound dampening to both walls and the ubiquitous popcorn ceilings.
The Attic: Insulation and More
- Vermiculite and Other Insulation: Certain types of attic insulation, including traditional and spray-on insulation, contained asbestos. Vermiculite was a loose insulation mineral often contaminated by asbestos.
- Chimneys: Chimney linings and insulating materials could often contain the fire-resistant asbestos. Asbestos could also be found in fireplace lining and even their ornamental logs and embers.
- Roofing Felt and Shingles: Due to its fire-resistant properties, asbestos was used in roofing materials, and can even be found in siding.
It’s important to note that this list isn’t exhaustive – there isn’t enough time in one blog to cover more than the most common sources. And this doesn’t cover older appliances that may contain asbestos. If you’re curious if your home or building contains asbestos, especially if you’re looking to buy or sell a home, 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.