According to the ACT Asbestos Task Force, as many as 98% of homes built in South Wales prior to 1976 contain asbestos. Since identifying asbestos as a known carcinogen, asbestos has been banned for use in home construction; however, there are a large number of homes still standing where asbestos can be found.
So how do you know if your home has asbestos materials and where to look? If your home is new in construction, you won’t need to be concerned with finding any asbestos in the structure; however, if the building was built prior to the 1990s, you might have some serious asbestos on the premises. This pre-dates the asbestos ban, which in Australia started nationwide on 31 December 2003, though most domestic home construction ceased using asbestos in the late 80s.
Where Asbestos Might Be Hiding
If your home was built during the asbestos period, these are some key places to look in your building construction where asbestos might likely be found:
- Floors, Wall, Ceilings – Asbestos was widely used in the construction of cement walls due to its durability and low cost. You might find asbestos in the cement sheeting used in exterior and interior walls.
- Plumbing – Asbestos was widely used for lagging around hot water pipes and where hot water pipes are set into masonry walls. Check for asbestos used as an insulating material.
- Kitchen – Asbestos was widely used in kitchen vinyl floor tiles. Check the backing of tiles used for padding.
- Heating – Asbestos as an insulator was widely used in some types of heating units, including fireplaces and heater hearths. Check anything insulated for asbestos.
- Roof/Attic – Certain roof sheeting and chimney flues used asbestos.
- Exterior Miscellaneous – Check under the eaves, in weatherboard cladding, and in brick fascia, where asbestos was sometimes used as a lining. Garages, sheds, and even some automotive parts, such as brake linings, are also a possible location to find asbestos.
As an aid to identifying products containing asbestos, asbestoswise provides a more extensive list of the common manufacturer names that used asbestos in their products.
Handling of asbestos can be a health hazard and should not be attempted without special precautions to avoid inhalation of airborne particles. Additionally, identifying material as containing asbestos often requires a lab test, since it is difficult to recognize asbestos simply by a visual inspection, which makes it a good idea to hire a professional building inspector to find it for you.