Sunday, December 24, 2017

asbestos removal - is this insane?

There are a couple of asbestos wrapped pipes in the cellar of the house we're working on closing on. I had an asbestos guy come out to look at it and say whether it looked OK, needed to go, whatever.
He said it didn't look like a problem and did not recommend professional removal... but said I could wrap it in duct tape to encapsulate it (which sounds sane enough) or remove it myself by wetting it down and chiseling it into a garbage bag (which seems completely insane to me!)
Is removing it myself really a good idea? It's not a huge amount... maybe 2 lengths of pipe, 2 feet long, right next to each other.
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Comments (58)
worthy
Pretty standard advice.
I'd just encapsulate it. But if you're removing it, check with your local authorities on recommended disposal. Some require one, others two 6mil bags; some require that it be in a barrel as well.
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jcin_los_angeles
This stuff is dangerous and can affect the health of everyone in the house if it isn't encapsulated or removed properly. We also discovered asbestos wrapped pipes/ducts in the basement and had the guys in moon suits come out and get rid of it.
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katsmah
I think your best bet would be to encapsulate it. Asbestos isn't dangerous if it is in good condition and you don't have loose fibers.
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kimkitchy
Your asbestos guy said "it didn't look like a problem", did he test the material wrapping the pipe for asbestos? We had the same concern and the guy who came to our house took samples, sent them off for testing and they did contain asbestos. (Two different types of stuff and one was over 80% asbestos). Since we were replacing the heating ducts, we had them removed by an asbestos removal contractor (guys in moon suits and we had to leave the house for 2 days). We got a certificate of abatement (important in some cases for resale). If you are not disturbing the asbestos and it is not damaged or friable, then you can leave it in place and encapsulate it. You can wet it and remove it, but I would not be comfortable doing that given the health hazards and some states require very specific removal only to dumps that accept the stuff. If I were you, I'd probably get it tested before deciding what to do. One more thing, professional removal and disposal is expensive. It cost us $5,000 for some covered pipes in the basement and some old vinyl flooring to be abated. FWIW, If you are still in the process of closing on the house, maybe you can get the seller to knock some off the price...
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kudzu9
Most asbestos problems occur when people try to remove it themselves. Do NOT wet it and remove it...I guarantee that halfway through you will have a mess and will have created a hazard where none existed before. Such removals are a job for professionals.
Unless it is crumbling and allowing dust to be released it is not a hazard...unless it is disturbed. If it is sound, you can "lock down" the surface by slightly misting it with a little water from a pump spray bottle, and then applying a layer of latex paint. Alternatively, you may be able to buy a little bit of encapsulant (a sticky liquid that forms a barrier) from an abatement firm and spray that on. Even if it appears sound, it's still a good idea to wear a respirator with asbestos-specific canisters ($40 at Home Depot) when doing this. Don't settle for a $2 dust mask: it provides virtually no protection from microscopic asbestos fibers. Also, do not use a regular vacuum on it as the fibers will go right through the vacuum bag and become airborne throughout your house. If you have any dust on the floor, moisten it and clean it up with paper towels and dispose of them in a sealed plastic bag.
At some point (like when you remodel or move) you may want to or have to get it removed, but it sounds like that's not necessary now.
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yinzermama
I think I may get an estimate on having it removed (this company didn't do removal... frankly now I am wondering what the heck exactly I paid them for...) ... but I will probably just wrap it in duct tape. Lots and lots of duct tape. And if anyone needs an asbestos check in western PA - I can tell you what company NOT to use!!!
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lazypup
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WRAP IT IN DUCT TAPE!!!!!!!!!!!!
The physical act of wrapping the asbestos pipe insulation can and will disturb the joints and allow fibers to be emitted into the surrounding air.
Per EPA specifications a Trained Asbestos abatement technician can remove up to 3' of asbestos pipe insulation by first enclosing the section in a plastic glove bag, the reaching inside the containment they wet the material and deposit it in an approved asbestos abatement bag.
When it is necessary to remove more than 3" we are required to create a negative air zone and use HEPA filters to filter all the air in the workspace.
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worthy
Good point. On one house I had, I was told by the municipal advisor to enclose asbestos wrap in sections of plastic then tape the ends. IOW, don't disturb the asbestos.
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yinzermama
great. now i'm too scared to go the tape route. maybe i will just close the door to that room and seal the door with 90 miles of duct tape! We don't really need that room...
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fandlil
We had a house with asbestos insulation around all the steam pipes in the cellar. We never thought about it, way back then in the 70s and 80s. When we put the house up for sale in 1986, we had to spend about $2K for its professional removal according to special standards. If you have not signed on the dotted line for that house, I would ask the seller to have the stuff removed professionally AND TO TEST THE AIR AFTER THE REMOVAL IS COMPLETE, to confirm that no airborne particles are around to cause great harm to your lungs. Even a little bit of that stuff can be harmful years later, especially to children. Since the amount of asbestos in this situation is small, the cost for its professional removal should be modest. Depending on the kind of rapport you have with the seller, you might want to offer to split the cost with them.
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mightyanvil
You hired the wrong guy. Pay a professional to remove it, dispose of it legally, and be done with it. For this small quantity in a separate room it can probably be done with a glove bag. Duct tape is temporary like all tapes. It shouldn't even be used to seal ducts.
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yinzermama
What is a glove bag exactly?
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mightyanvil
It is an enclosure/bag that goes around the asbestos covered pipe and it has arm holes, sleeves, and gloves in it that allow you to work on the asbestos without exposing yourself.
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dave11
At the risk of being attacked by the folks here who seem to be affiliated with asbestos abatement programs, I'd like to point out that, even among asbestos miners exposed to heavy asbestos unprotected for years or decades, the great majority never developed asbestosis or any pulmonary problems.
I'm not saying asbestos isn't dangerous, because clearly it can lead to an early death in some people exposed to it. But I believe the EPA's approach gets people needlessly worried. Years ago, people were exposed to asbestos regularly at home or at work, and never thought twice about it. And most cases of asbestosis occur only in those with high rates of chronic exposure. In other words, I'd bet Yinzermama could forget about the asbestos-wrapped pipe and still live to a ripe old age.
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katsmah
I agree. As long as the asbestos on the pipe is in good condition I wouldn't mess with it. The only time it becomes an issue is at resale because people are needlessly worried. My lawyer talked me into having the sellers remove the asbestos covering the steam pipes in my basement when I bought my house. They were in excellent condition, but I did it anyway because I didn't want to get stuck having to do it when I sell someday. There really was no other reason to do so.
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davidrr
You mentioned that the asbestos insulation is on a 2-ft long section of two pipes. What kind of pipe is it? What is it for? How accessible is it?
If you really want to remove it yourself, you could seal the asbestos insulation (wrap it well in poly?) and entirely remove and replace the two sections of pipe...insulation and all.
Of course I don't know the details of your situation, but it may be an easy solution.
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calliope
Did they disclose this on their listing? It's a state law here to disclose this when putting a house up for sale. It's in all the listing contracts, whether you know you have asbestoes or not in your house. If they did, and you signed anyhows, I'd think dealing with it is your problem now. If this is a 'new' discovery, I would surely want the seller to have it abated or remediated.
Whether it's as dangerous as the laws imply it is or not, just having the "A" word associated with a house is the scarlet letter. What I find in this area is that people do the SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL routine with asbestoes. They sort of ignore it, never have it tested, so they can say they 'didn't know' they had it in their homes and pass it along to the purchaser who often takes it, knowing there is some, but is afraid to have the seller deal with it, for fear their dream home won't qualify for a mortgage.
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brickeyee
"Did they disclose this on their listing? It's a state law here to disclose this when putting a house up for sale."
Another law without any real effect.
You would have to prove the seller knew the material was asbestos and failed to disclose the fact that a clearly visible item was knowingly asbestos.
Absent proof that the seller had a lab test performed, and then failed to disclose you will not get anywhere.
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calliope
I agree it's a toothless law, but it's still there. Granted, to be sure it has to be tested, but geesh......a house of a 'certain age' with funny looking white tape on the duct work? You'd have to be born under rock not to even suspect it.
It's a moot point Brickeyes. She knows it's asbestos and hasn't even closed on it. It's going to be an issue again when/if she sells the house, because she DOES KNOW it's asbestoes, so she can't claim to be ignorant of it. The next prospective buyer may not want it there (who does?) and may not want to pay for having it removed. You know that. So, should she pay to get rid of it, or should the seller? If I were buying a house in this market, I'd let the seller take it out of their profits.
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brickeyee
"It's going to be an issue again when/if she sells the house, because she DOES KNOW it's asbestoes, so she can't claim to be ignorant of it."

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