When dealing with old homes, chances are you are going to run across some potentially dangerous substances such as asbestos, black mold, heck even dead (or live) animals. Let’s face it, old homes are great but they can hide a ton of nasty stuff no one wants to deal with. Asbestos is one of the worst things you can find in an old home because it can do permanent and lasting damage to your health. Luckily, you can test for asbestos pretty easily, and it pays to always test before disturbing any area you think may contain the harmful material.
Asbestos can be found anywhere in your house.
Asbestos can be found in drywall, insulation, flooring tiles, and ceiling tiles, but it may also be in other areas of your house. If there is ever any question, always opt on the side of caution and make sure to test samples.
We tested four areas of our house for asbestos through a company called Western Analytical Labs in California, and we were really pleased with their service. Be warned, their website looks like something that Geocities forgot, but they make it fairly easy to send in samples and they were quick to send us the results. It only took a few days to hear back.
Take precautions when collecting asbestos.
We followed some safety procedures to limit our exposure while collecting samples. First, we made sure that we were wearing disposable gloves and masks. We also used a sprayer filled with water to moisten the area to limit the dust that was generated by cutting out a sample. Western Analytical Labs’ website also features some detailed instructions for collecting samples that might help you with the process.
After we obtained the samples, we put them in air-tight plastic baggies, and carefully labeled each bag. When you send in the samples, you have to make sure that the information on your bags and on your online order form match, so it pays to take notes as you are labeling the bags. We titled each bag with our description of the material, such as a floor tile, and the location of the house from which the samples were taken. If there were multiple similar areas, like bedrooms, we just titled them bedroom 1, 2, 3, etc. We also made sure to carefully smooth the extra air out of each bag before sealing it.
We placed the sealed baggies in a padded envelope and sent them via priority mail, and then we filled out the E-form on the Western Analytical Labs website. They also offer online payment methods, but you have to click through the step-by-step instructions on the site to get to their payment page. It pays to do all the samples at once because they charge $30 for the first sample but only $20 for each additional sample.
We were impressed with how quickly we received the results. They were also quite thorough. We not only found out that our material was not asbestos, but we received a detailed breakdown of the materials in each sample. To be honest, I didn’t really know what half of the other materials were, but they weren’t expressly harmful, and it’s still good to have that information just in case.
I would definitely recommend Western Analytical Labs for asbestos testing. It gave us some peace of mind as we started to rip apart drywall and tear up flooring. Of course you don’t want to forget to still wear a mask. Even though there’s no asbestos, it doesn’t mean that you won’t find God-knows-what mixed in with the dusty mess generated by demo. Still, a little precaution helps you feel more confident that the dusty mess won’t potentially kill you, and that’s worth the time and money of testing.
Have you run across asbestos in your home rehab projects?