Do you have asbestos sidings installed on your home? Or do you want to ensure that the siding installed isn’t made of asbestos? If yes, this blog post is for you.
This blog post will guide you through asbestos siding, explain its history, health-related concerns, and the types you’ll come across. In addition, we’ll explain how you can safely remove asbestos sidings if you want to. Read till the end to protect yourself from the dangerous impact of asbestos.
History Of Asbestos Siding
Asbestos cement siding was popular between 1920 and 1970 among home and business owners for its durability and fire resistance. Since it was more fire-resistant and affordable compared to wood and other siding materials of the time, it gained popularity and was approved for use. It quickly became a favorable and effective building material for siding and construction projects over time. But suddenly, people saw a stop to its frequent use when a number of adverse health issues were found to be linked to asbestos.
Asbestos, when it’s installed and left undisturbed, has no side effects on people’s health. However, asbestos becomes a problem when it’s disturbed, and it easily crumbles and releases fibers that cause many health issues, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. As a result, the use of asbestos in construction and manufacturing was heavily regulated and eventually banned in the United States.
What Is Asbestos Siding?
Asbestos siding, mainly known as asbestos cement, is a type of siding that homeowners, especially between 1920 and 1970, installed on their homes as siding. Asbestos, a naturally occurring fiber, was mixed with cement and water to make it a functional and durable siding material. Since 1907, asbestos gained popularity for its fire-resistance and insulative properties that could be installed on home and office walls at an affordable price.
Asbestos cement siding typically came in the form of large flat sheets or shingles and was available in various colors and textures. It was used in residential and commercial construction and can still be found on homes, schools, hospitals, and office buildings.
Read about asbestos alternative sidings, which are more durable and risk-free.
Types Of Asbestos Used In Siding And Construction
Serpentine Asbestos: This type of asbestos has a layered, curly structure resembling a serpent. It is the only type of asbestos with a single fiber type, called chrysotile.
Amphibole Asbestos: This asbestos has a straight, needle-like structure. A few types of amphibole asbestos are as follows:
1. Crocidolite: This type of asbestos is the most dangerous and is otherwise known as blue asbestos for its color. It’s particularly resistant to heat and acid, and it was used to manufacture insulation and cement products.
2. Amosite: This is also known as brown asbestos and was commonly used in insulation products, particularly in the construction of ships and buildings.
3. Anthophyllite: This type of asbestos is rarely found in insulation products and construction materials.
4. Tremolite: This asbestos type is comparatively rare and used in insulation products and construction materials.
Why Is Asbestos Siding Dangerous?
Asbestos siding is dangerous as it contains asbestos, a mineral fiber that sticks to the lungs when inhaled through the air, causing inflammation and even lung cancer. Asbestos siding is especially dangerous for those working with or around asbestos-containing materials on a regular basis. These people are usually construction workers, miners, and factory workers. Even people who live in homes with asbestos sidings are exposed to asbestos directly and are reported to have linked health issues.
Asbestos in itself isn’t dangerous. However, when it is disturbed and its particles are inhaled, it enters the lungs, causing inflammation and related health issues. For these reasons, it is important to take precautions when working with, or around, asbestos-containing materials by wearing protective gear and following proper removal and disposal procedures.
Pros And Cons Of Asbestos Siding
Until the mid-20th century, asbestos was known to be the most durable and affordable roofing material. However, increasing health issues linked to asbestos caused it to be banned in many countries. Some of its pros and cons are as follows:
Durability – Asbestos siding is considered a durable material that can last longer with minimal maintenance. It is also resistant to cracks and pests, making it a preferable choice for home and business owners.
Low Cost – Asbestos saw a surge in the siding industry as it could offer durability at an affordable price, even when compared to wood. Asbestos beat out wood siding with its low maintenance requirements and affordable price.
Easy To Install – Asbestos cement siding is lightweight and easy to install, which saves time and money on installation costs.
Health Hazards – Asbestos siding contains asbestos fibers, which cause serious lung diseases when inhaled, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Difficult To Repair – If asbestos cement siding is damaged or needs to be replaced, it can be difficult to repair or replace without releasing asbestos fibers into the air.
Environmental Concerns – When asbestos siding is removed or demolished, the asbestos fibers can contaminate the environment and pose a risk to human health.
How To Tell If Siding Has Asbestos
Identifying asbestos can be difficult, but there are some steps you can take to help you determine if your current siding is asbestos.
Determine The Age Of Your Siding
Asbestos was used in building materials until the 1980s. If your home was built before this time and the siding has not been replaced, it is more likely to contain asbestos.
Look For Visual Signs
Siding that contains asbestos is typically a flat, rectangular shape with a smooth surface. It may also have a chalky or powdery residue on the surface. The siding may be gray or light-colored, but it can also be painted.
Have A Professional Test The Siding
If you are still uncertain, you can have a professional come to test the siding for asbestos. They will take a sample of the siding and test it in a lab to determine if it contains asbestos.
It is worth noting that if your siding does contain asbestos, it’s best to leave it undisturbed unless it’s damaged or deteriorating. If you need to make any repairs or replacements, you must hire a professional who is trained to handle asbestos-containing materials safely.
How To Remove Asbestos Siding
There is no need to panic just because you are dealing with asbestos. As long as it is intact, it is not harmful to you. In contrast, demolishing siding and other features in your home without taking proper safety considerations, or not wearing protective equipment, may put you in danger.
This process of pulling nails and tearing off siding identified as made of asbestos will cause the material to crumble, letting asbestos particles free in the air. Therefore, to prevent inhaling the surrounding air, you should take safety precautions.
Materials You’ll Need To Remove Asbestos Siding
Certain materials, or the following equipment, can help you remove asbestos safely:
1. Personal protective equipment (PPE): If you are a professional working to remove asbestos siding, you will need to wear PPE, including a respirator, goggles, gloves, and disposable coveralls.
2. A wetting agent: Asbestos fibers become airborne if the siding is dry, so a wetting agent, such as a fine mist of water, can be used to keep the siding wet during the removal process.
3. Drop cloths: Drop cloths can be used to protect the ground and surrounding areas from any debris that may fall during the removal process.
4. Scaffolding: Scaffolding may be needed to safely reach and remove the siding from a structure’s upper levels.
5. Tools: Specialized tools, such as a siding puller or a shingle ripper, may be needed to remove the siding from the structure without damaging it.
6. Sealed bags: Once the siding has been removed, it should be placed in sealed plastic bags for disposal at a hazardous waste facility.
Step-By-Step Guide To Remove Asbestos Siding
Hire a professional: Removing materials containing asbestos can be dangerous and should only be done by a professional who is trained in handling asbestos safely.
Wet the siding: Before removing the siding, it should be wet down with a mist of water to prevent the release of asbestos fibers.
Remove the siding: The professional will remove the siding carefully, trying not to break or damage it. They will use specialized tools to loosen and remove the siding from the structure.
Bag and dispose of the siding: Once the siding has been removed, it should be placed in sealed plastic bags and disposed of properly at a hazardous waste facility.
Hire Professionals To Handle Your Siding
Dealing with asbestos siding alone can be dangerous as a DIY project. Therefore, we recommend our readers call professionals to stop any mishap from happening. Call Northkit Roofing today at (973) 396-7416 for a consultation with our experts. We have a team of professionals who know how to tackle all roofing and siding projects. Remove your old siding and upgrade your home by calling us today!