Asbestos was used in an assortment of electrical components during the early days of commercial electricity. Due to the unknown risk at the time, manufacturers would use this hazardous substance for its fireproof quality and to protect people from electrocution. Nowadays, we’re well aware of the dangers of asbestos, but that doesn’t stop it from being present in many older homes. For that reason, it’s important to distinguish what types of electrical components potentially contain asbestos to ensure your home and family are protected.
Asbestos Wire Insulation and Cable Wrap
Electrical wires were insulated with asbestos, as it was an effective fire and heat-resistant material. If properly encapsulated, the insulation is harmless, but as the wires fray over time – as seen in this photo – the cloth-like, friable asbestos becomes a serious health concern. For similar reasons, cable wraps were also used to prevent fires caused by electrical cables. This asbestos paper or cloth wrapping can degrade over time, causing crumbling asbestos to contaminate the air.
Ebonized Asbestos Electrical Fuse Panel
An asbestos-containing cement – otherwise known as “asbestos lumber” – was marketed as a fireproof substitute to wood boards. Electrical fuse panels were mounted on this cement material. The asbestos lumber was also coated with a compound that made it water-resistant. However, this material is especially hazardous, as it’s prone to damage and degradation over time.
Asbestos-Cement Electrical Shielding and Bases
Sheets of asbestos cement were also used as shielding to separate electrical components as a means to prevent electrical arcs between switch equipment. These sheets also extinguish any electrical arcs by creating a path of resistance, dividing it into smaller electrical currents until it fizzles out. To fit specific electrical components and prevent the need for additional shielding, asbestos-cement bases were used for fuse boxes to safeguard the installation of additional components.
Asbestos Flash Guards
Also known as asbestos paper insulation, this material was used to line the inside of electrical boxes. This was seen as an effective material due to its heat resistance. However, this material is prone to tearing easily and is vulnerable to wearing down over time, making the risk of asbestos exposure very high.
Due to its prevalence in the past, electrical components containing asbestos are still a common problem in many houses. Not only is it important to hire an asbestos abatement team to safely remove the components, but many electrical contractors will also require you to have an asbestos inspection before they perform any services. At Fiber Control, Inc., we’re experts at dealing with outdated, asbestos-containing equipment. Contact us if you suspect there may be asbestos in your home or other hazardous materials.