Asbestos is a term for naturally occurring heat-resistant minerals and it is not something you want to find in your home.
Unwelcome is also the possibility of having to pay for expensive asbestos testing companies to visit your home, and then an abatement company that will remove the asbestos.
There are kits available that can be used to test for asbestos yourself. These kits cost much less than hiring a company. Some kits can be done completely yourself, but you will still need to send the samples to a laboratory.
The work of testing the samples is done by the kits for asbestos detection. This allows you to save money and gives you some control over the entire process. Even if you have to call in testing companies, these kits can be a great way to get started.
What you might find in your home that contains asbestos
Locating asbestos in your home can be difficult. You can tell if you look in your attic that the grayish, fluffy material is not fiberglass insulation if you go up into it. It could also contain asbestos.
It turns out that this asbestos-like substance might be harmless blown-in cellulose: Insulating pellets made of recycled paper.
How about the innocent-looking exterior cement tiles? These shingles could be an older, potentially dangerous type of siding known as asbestos cement.
Another material that can be found in attics or walls is mica-like shine. It may also contain silver-gold or gray-brown color. This loose-fill insulation, also known as Zonolite, is called vermiculite.
Common sources of asbestos in the home
- Sheet vinyl flooring
- Popcorn ceilings
- Floor tiles
- Insulation: Ceiling cavities
- Wallboard joint compound
- Pipe cement
- Exterior cement tile siding
- Wrapping insulation for heating pipes
- Roofing tiles
- Roof flashing
How to use an Asbestos Testing Kit
Many homeowners will decide to not test for asbestos because they fear that true laboratory testing will cost too much. It is possible to spend quite a lot on full-service laboratory testing. However, it is easier and cheaper to use an asbestos testing kit.
Asbestos testing kits generally work in two steps. You first obtain the suspected asbestos in your home by purchasing a kit at a local home improvement store or online. The second step is to mail the results to a laboratory. The results will be returned to you within a few days.
For the kit, collect suspected asbestos
Take safety precautions when collecting solid and fibrable materials, or dust samples.
Disposable coveralls, gloves, and safety glasses are recommended. Boot covers should also be worn.
Seal all doors and windows with plastic sheeting to stop contamination.
Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap with cool water in an ounce spray bottle to keep asbestos fibers from the air. Spray the entire area.
Solid and Friable Materials
Do-it-yourself asbestos testing is cheaper if you use materials that are either solid or flexible (meaning, not as expensive). These materials can be used to cut small pieces of material, seal them, and then send the sample to the laboratory in an envelope.
The lab will usually report back to you within a week or so. You may be able to pay an additional fee for urgent results. Some labs charge a lower rate for additional samples.
The cost of testing can increase if only a small amount of dust is available. Most asbestos-testing laboratories will require you to collect as much dust as possible to obtain 1 teaspoon of it.
If you are unable to gather enough dust, you can use a damp tissue to wipe it off and then seal the bag with a plastic bag. The cost of asbestos dust sampling is three times higher than for traditional asbestos testing because it requires an electron microscope.