How Do You Remove Asbestos?

Because of its toxicity, asbestos removal is best left to experts. There are several reputable companies that specialize in asbestos removal and containment. There are also a number of not-so-reputable ones; the rule caveat emptor applies here. Do your due diligence and investigate any asbestos abatement company thoroughly before hiring. Note: the following material is for informational purposes only. This firm assumes no liability if you choose to undertake the job personally.

Don’t Do It Yourself

When it comes to asbestos abatement, the best course of action is to leave the job to trained professionals. The Contractor’s Register of Jefferson Valley, NY (http://www.thebluebook.com/cl/all203.htm or 1-800-431-2584) is an excellent place to start if you are seeking such services in your area.

If you have confirmed the presence of asbestos in your home and are determined to do it yourself, understand that legally, you cannot hire anyone else to help you unless s/he is a certified asbestos contractor (in which case s/he will want to do it him/herself and for you to stay out of the way – see above). Friends and/or family members may participate on voluntary basis. However, you bear all liability for any harm.

You should also understand that you may encounter unexpected conditions in any attempt to remove asbestos that could very well compromise your health and safety even if you are wearing the proper protective gear. In addition, there is an electrical hazard; water is used in the removal process may come in contact with wiring. The work may also damage walls, ceilings, paneling and drywall.

The First Step

If you believe asbestos is in your home, the first thing to do is take a small sample by spraying a few of the suspect areas with water containing a few drops of detergent, then scraping some of it into a self-sealing plastic bag. An asbestos consulting and testing lab will test the sample for a nominal fee; call the Department of Environmental Quality in your state for a list of such labs in your community.

If the test is negative, it’s a good idea to take two additional samples in order to confirm the findings.

Necessary Equipment

Everyone involved in the removal process needs specific, protective gear that includes disposable coveralls, an approved HEPA-filter respirator, rubber gloves and boots and eye protection. Most of this will be disposed of each time a worker leaves the contaminated area.

In addition, there are numerous tools required. These include a 2-3 gallon tank sprayer, liquid detergent, putty knives, step ladders, plastic sheeting, asbestos waste disposal bags, duct tape, clean, disposable rags and an encapsulant – some type of approved latex asbestos sealing product.

Basic Procedure

All furniture must be removed, all climate control (heating/AC) must be turned off and vents sealed, and electrical power cut off. If lighting is necessary, it should be wired to an outside circuit.

In order to build the containment area, plastic sheeting must be fastened to the walls and floors, and all seams sealed with duct tape. The removal process itself basically consists of wetting the asbestos, letting the water-detergent solution soak into the surface, and scraping the substance into approved disposal containers. Afterwards, it is necessary for all who worked in the area to decontaminate themselves.

Each of these steps is covered in greater depth under other headings on this website.

'How Do You Remove Asbestos?' Sources:

  • Utah State Department of Air Quality. "Asbestos Removal Procedures for Home Owners." (State of Utah, 2007).