Could Asbestos Be Lurking in a Home You Plan to Buy?

Are you planning to buy an older home? If so, there are a lot of things you’ll want to know about the home, including whether or not there’s any asbestos present.

You might wonder if asbestos even exists anymore. Sure, it was used quite often in home construction decades ago, but is it still around today?

It’s rare for asbestos to be used in new home construction, so the odds of finding it in a home that was built after 1980 is pretty slim. But homes that were built before the 80s could potentially still have asbestos lurking within its walls and ceilings.

The Danger of Asbestos

Asbestos is basically a group of naturally-occurring minerals that have been used in all sorts of building materials and other types of products for decades.

The problem with asbestos is that if it’s inhaled over a certain amount of time, it can cause serious respiratory problems, including asbestosis, mesothelioma, and even lung cancer. That’s why it’s not typically used in home construction very much, though it hasn’t been entirely banned as some may falsely believe.

The thing about asbestos is that it’s actually harmless if it’s untouched. The issue arises when the material that contains asbestos is disturbed and particles from the material become airborne. At this point, the dust particles that are released into the air that contain asbestos can be breathed in, which is where the hazard lies.

If you plan to buy an older home and are considering doing some home improvement projects, you will want to know if asbestos is present or not before you start knocking down walls or ripping out ceiling material. Asbestos can be lurking anywhere in the home, so identifying its presence is important before any work is done.

Where is Asbestos Typically Found in a Home?

The natural properties of asbestos make it an ideal and affordable fire retardant. Because of that, it was added to all sorts of different building products, especially between the 1940s to the 1970s. Some of the more common building materials that asbestos can be added to include:

  • Insulation
  • Popcorn ceiling material
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • White tape on heat ducts
  • Cement siding
  • Glue under flooring

How Can You Tell if Asbestos Exists in a Home?

It’s impossible to know for sure whether or not asbestos is present in a home just by looking around. The only way to identify the existence of asbestos is by having the material in question tested.

Before you sign on the dotted line and take possession of a home you’re interested in buying, make sure to include a home inspection contingency. This will give you the chance to scope out the home in great detail to find out if there’s anything that warrants further attention. Although testing for asbestos isn’t typically part of the average home inspection, your inspector may be able to get tiny samples from the property that can then be tested appropriately.

If the home you want to buy was built before the 1980s and you plan on doing some upgrades, you’ll want to know if asbestos exists or not. As such, you may want to consider hiring an asbestos inspector to identify whether or not it’s there. At-home test kits are available, but this is not the type of material that you will want to handle on your own.

Ideally, the seller will disclose the presence of asbestos in the home before you buy it if it’s something that they are aware of. Unfortunately, many sellers are typically unaware of the presence of asbestos in their homes, especially if they’ve never done any improvements while living there.

The Bottom Line

Asbestos can be expensive to remove, so you will want to know if it exists in a home you are buying. It’s possible for asbestos to be found in just any area of a home. And the older the property is, the higher the risk of asbestos being found somewhere.