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How to Tell If Asbestos Is in a Home

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A crucial part of buying any home is the home inspection. It will give you a great idea about what kind of condition the home is in and tell you about the repairs that you'll need to do in the near future. More importantly, an inspection can let you know about potentially dangerous things about a home, such as if it contains asbestos. Thankfully, you don't have to wait until a formal home inspection to know if asbestos is in the home. Here are something's to look for.

The Home's Age

The age of the home says a lot about the materials used to build it. That's why homes built after 1980 did not typically contain asbestos, with the exception of vermiculite insulation that was used up until 1990. The time period to be aware of is between the '40s and '70s, when asbestos really started to take off in home construction. That said, even homes older than that are at risk of having asbestos, because remodeling work using asbestos materials could have been done within that time period.

The Material's Age

Now, knowing the time frame when asbestos was commonly used, consider how old the materials are in the home. A kitchen that has been recently remodeled or a recently finished basement is a sign that new materials were used. There is a high chance that all of the asbestos material was removed in the remodeling process.

Asbestos was used in practically everything, including insulation, wrapping for water and heat pipes, roofing, siding, and even decorative treatments to walls. Look at the materials being used and roughly estimate their age. If it falls within the relevant time frame for asbestos, the material could contain it.

The Labels

Be aware that contractors are required to label asbestos when they encounter it in a home. This is only if they find that the material can be safely left in the house without posing any health risk to others. Asbestos only becomes dangerous when you breathe in the dust it creates, which can happen from demolition work during home remodeling. If asbestos will not be disturbed, it's possible that it was left where it is to be dealt with at a future date. If such labels exist, homeowners must also disclose them when selling the home.

For more tips on finding potential problems with a home before you buy it, speak with a real estate agent.