Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.

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Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« on: 12 Oct 2006, 12:05 am »
Finally, all of the sudden, we have snapped a house where to move.  But, as I was going through it will a housing inspector, he pointed out some piping which was covered with asbestos.  When we walked down the house, we saw more pipes with the same white stuff.  What I did not get to see was what above the styrofoam tiles that cover the length of the basement.  The asbestos situation is very common with older houses, especially something like what we are trying to get, circa 1930.  I know that several people in the circle are themselves home owners, I know someone here who bought a house that is at least 130 years old and I am sure they saw something that had asbestos.  How troublesome, financially or timewise is to remove this sort of problem?  I think that there might be some hot water/steam pipes that have this covering running the length of the basement.  I think if we try to redo the basement, we will face this problem.  I think that the house might be at least 16X50 ft in size.  Any comments would be appreciated.

Paul K


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #1 on: 12 Oct 2006, 12:12 am »

    Paul, you bought a house? Congratulation man! :D Dose it have a room for audio and all your audio stuff ?:wink:

  Anyway, as for the asbestos clean up.... I have no expreience on this. But this is serious stuff here . I think is call for a good specialized professional clean up here.

   Anyway, good luck and let use know when you can host a NY Rave in your new place :wink:

Take care,
Buddy :thumb:


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #2 on: 12 Oct 2006, 12:41 am »
The asbestos insulation is not a problem if it is wrapped well and not falling apart.   I have the same in my basement wrapping my water pipes (my house >130yrs old).  I have asbestos tiles in the basement, which is no problem at all as long as you don't grind them up into dust. 

Its when the stuff gets fine and you breathe it that it is a problem.  This is why it is important that the asbestos insulation is well wrapped.  You can always take duct tape and wrap the insulation some more for safe keeping.

Some care is needed when removing the asbestos though, such as rated dust masks and eyewear and then disposing with your county's hazardous materials department.   It really isn't such a big deal if you aren't forced to do anything about it (not falling apart, becoming fine).  Disposing can be a bit of a pain though. 

I got plenty of asbestos in my basement.


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Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #3 on: 12 Oct 2006, 12:52 am »
Hello Paul....Congrats on the house ! As for the there any law that states the former owner would be responsible for its removal ? I don't know....but maybe you can have them remove you any out of pocket costs.... 8)



Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #4 on: 12 Oct 2006, 12:53 am »
If you remodel your basement as I just did on my rental property you will need as Josh states to take it to a county disposal place. This is no big deal. I had to get rid of all of the insulated ducting and an old oil burning furnace, all covered in asbestos wrap.

Get the best masks you can buy and the finest filters. The best masks have replaceable filters and look like a gas mask. They're only about 25 bucks but you don't want to breath that stuff.

If it's intact I'd not worry about it until it's time to remodel. If it's not then cover it up somehow.

One thing to remember when you buy an old house is that lower layers of paint are probably leaded. If you have no kids biting into things you're fine as lead hasn't been used in a very long time and there's most likely a few coats of water based paint over what was there.

Another thing to remember is that you will run into things you didn't plan on when remodeling an old house. If you tear out all of the ducting and it sounds like possibly the furnace you may find other issues that need to be resolved. Actually you will find things that need to be done that you didn't realize. PLAN ON IT.

 Older homes are wonderful except for that. I personally wouldn't want to live in a home that's newer than the mid fifties. With that comes the big mystery of what's been done in the last several decades by what kind of a moron. Wiring and plumbing come to mind. Codes were pretty lax several or more decades ago. With the idiot installation of wiring in plumbing means more money.

If you can do alot of the stuff yourself then do as it's very expensive to hire people like electricians and plumbers. If you know people in construction they can be a good asset and they often like to be paid in cash which can save you money if you need them for things you're not capable of doing yourself.

And congratulations on your new home :thumb:.

Scott F.

Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #5 on: 12 Oct 2006, 01:18 am »
Unfortunately asbestos is a huge issue. I have tons of experience with this as my real job puts me in the middle of abating asbestos on nearly every contracting job that I do.

The abating and encapsulating of it can only be done by a liscenced contractor. I can't state this clearly enough, don't touch it, not even to protect any existing exposed fibers and you will just further contaminate your house.

I'm not sure what the state regulations are where you live but Missouri and Illinois regs are pretty tough. Only speaking for Mo and Il, here you need to hire an environmental consultant to assess the condition of the coverings. If there aren't any breaches in the covering making it "friable" (or airborne), you should be able to get away with a simple encapsulation. This involves taking a product called rewettable Glass Fab and wrapping the existing joints (elbows, tees and valves). Glass Fab drys to a rock hard finish. This ensures that there won't be any intrusions resulting in contamination of the area.

If there is loose or exposed (friable) asbestos, the entire area will need to be cleaned, the piping resealed with glass fab and air samples taken to insure the area is safe for habitation. The cleaning process usually involves setting up a positive seal containment enclosure, installing negative air fans, filtration, and personell showers. Anyperson entering the enclosure must be a certified abatement technician and will don a full 'moon suit'  with breathing apperatus. They will contain the exposed asbestos and will physically wipe down the entire area. The rags and any loose asbestos will be disposed of in marked bags and be taken to a liscenced hazardous waste disposal landfill.

If the insulation is in good condition and you want to have it abated, the same contractor will be able to do a process called 'glove bagging' (if allowed by your states EPA). This is a much cheaper option than the 'mass abatement' process.

Any of the above costs some serious money. Just to give you an idea, I recently paid to have three small HVAC units abated in three different locations within a building. They had to build a containment and use negative air and moon suits. It cost me $39, BS. This was a pass through cost from my environmental consultant (in other words they didn't mark it up).

Asbestos is an extremely serious issue in every state of the union. Trust me on this one, don't take this lightly. I know of at least four people that have died of mesothelioma (sp). You may think it only effects certain people but the question you have to ask is, what people. You have no idea whether your body will absorb the asbestos fiber or will reject it and begin a growth around it.

In your papers for your home there should have been a Disclosure Statement which stated there was asbestos in the home. Not sure if you can force the previous owner to abate it, or maybe turn to the Realtor as a responsable party but I'd damn sure get a lawyer involved and start exploring your options.

Sorry if this post seems like a scare tactic but this stuff is nothing to mess with. It has liability written all over it. If you don't believe me, PM pjchappy here at AC. He works for a personal injury law firm. Just ask him how big the settlements are in St Clair County Illinois.


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #6 on: 12 Oct 2006, 01:23 am »
I had to remove asbestos and it was very expensive and a real PITA! A special hazardous waste crew had to be hired and arrangements for proper disposal made. After doing everything properly at great cost, I caught the crew throwing the asbestos in the regular garbage. Unbelievable. I say bite the bullet and get rid of it, doing it properly. If you are willing to do it yourself, follow Warner's advice and save yourself a lot of money.

Scott F.

Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #7 on: 12 Oct 2006, 01:29 am »
If you are willing to do it yourself, follow Warner's advice and save yourself a lot of money.


You can't do it yourself. You MUST be a liscenced hazardous waste contractor to touch asbestos. Every state in the union has very specific LAWS that regulate asbestos mitigation.

Don't beleive what I say, log onto your states Environmental PRotection Agency webiste. They'll give you a lowdown.

Scott F.

Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #8 on: 12 Oct 2006, 01:32 am »
Oh, I forgot to mention, if you get caught by the EPA or somebody turns you in for illegally abating and improperly disposing on asbestos, plan on a fine that will exceed $10,000 and plan on a at least a year long vacation brought to you by the federal government.

I'm tellin ya, don't mess with this stuff. Like I said, it has LIABILITY written all over it.


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #9 on: 12 Oct 2006, 02:41 am »
Unfortunately what Scott F. said is correct, one has to be a licenced HAZMAt contractor to remove and dispose of Asbestos, and its super expensive in the metro areas. I once had to hire such a contractor to remove and dispose of just twenty-five feet of the stuff which was wrapped around some plumbing pipes and it cost just over $5k. Luckily I was able to pass that cost over to the homeowner.
The dirty little secret in the contracting world is that if an inspector does not see the asbestos, it is often removed by just any Tom, DIck or Harry and disposed in the regular trash. And this happens a lot, either out of ignorance of the law/code or usually just to save money. In the end it will end up costing someone anyway, dump it in the regular trash and it will contaminate the environment(water table, etc).
It is often better to just enclose it, and not mess with it. Unless a pipe breaks and then you have no choice...well, even then, there is a choice...
Like the man said, it has the word LIABILITY written all over it in big capitol letters.

Scott F.

Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #10 on: 12 Oct 2006, 03:46 am »

I just reread your post and noticed you hadn't bought the house yet. Sorry about being a reactionary. I just didn't want to see you make a mistake. Anyway, heres a couple of asbestos pointers as you continue to inspect this (or other) homes.

You have the possobility of asbestos being on the pipe fittings. These fittings are usually covered on the outside with a cloth type material. Under the cloth is a hard, white, chalky substance. This is the asbestos. It will usually test between 15% and 80% ACM (asbestos containing materials).

Depending on the era, you may also find that the outer part of the pipe covering (the jacketing) on the straight pieces of pipe will have ACM in it also. Most often they use fiberglass under the actual ACM cover. I have also seen what is called 'air cell' pipe insulation used as straight pipe covering. This stuff looks like the cardboard used in a cardboard box.

9x9 floor tiles are almost always asbestos. Maybe 10% of the old 12x12 floor tiles are hot. If you have 9x9's, there is a strong possiblity that the glue (mastic) used to adhiere the tiles is hot also. It will also need to be abated if you take up the tiles. Floor tiles can be removed with a heat process that is safe, and much cheaper than a full containment process.

If the home has ductwork with a white paper-type substance on it, there is a strong possibility that this is hot also.

If the home has a boiler that dates back to before about 1975, there is a good chance the boiler has ACM also. The gasketing will likely be hot. If there is any storage tank, air separator or expension tanks associated with the boiler, the insulation on them may also be hot.

Since the home was built over 100 years ago, if the wiring hasn't been upgraded there is also a good chance that the wire has asbestos cloth insulation.

Most all window caulk prior to 1970 (assuming you have old windows) contained asbestos.

And last but not least, if the house is lathe and plaster, many times they used asbestos as a filler material in the plaster.

Hopefully these help you with your home search.


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #11 on: 12 Oct 2006, 10:54 am »
What is asbestos?  Sounds like is can be used for insulation as well as floor tile.


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #12 on: 12 Oct 2006, 11:58 pm »

I just reread your post and noticed you hadn't bought the house yet. ...


    Oops! my bad! :slap: I thought that you've already bought the house. You are right Scott :D

Anyway, goodluck on your search and let us know if you find one with a good room for your audio stuffs :wink:

Take care,
Buddy :thumb:


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #13 on: 13 Oct 2006, 01:27 am »

Asbestos is a huge problem in Australia with many older homes contaminated with the stuff.  A small town called Wittenoom in Western Australia has been closed down because it was mined from there and shipped all over the world.  Apparently due to the mining near the town it is unsuitable for human habitation due to the possibility of contracting mesothelioma.

I remember watching a documentary where a young girl was outside playing on asbestos panelling which here father had removed due to renovations to their home.  Unfortunately there were some loose fibres floating around and 30 years later she has developed Mesothelioma which is a respiratory disease linked to asbestos fibres.  There is no known cure for this disease and many people are dying from it every day. 

I would be careful buying a house which is laden with asbestos and then doing renovations down the track.



Scott F.

Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #14 on: 13 Oct 2006, 01:40 am »
What is asbestos?  Sounds like is can be used for insulation as well as floor tile.

Asbestos is a naturally occuring mineral that was heavily mined for industrial use (amongst others) from about the turn of the last century through about 1980 when it was phased out of use (at least in construction materials). The asbestos fiber actually looks a little like one of the lead out barbs that you use (or used to use) on the end of your fly rod, fishing line. At one end of the fiber are these hook like barbs.

When you inhale airborne asbestos, these fibers lodge in the soft tissue in your lungs. Since they have these barbs, they don't ever dislodge. Everybody's body reacts differently to asbestos. To some, the fibers stay without incident. To others, a hard mass forms around th efiber as the body tries to reject this foreign substance. Since the body can't reject it, the mass continues to grow. Unfortunately, it takes on average about 20 - 30 years for the mass to become big enough to cause breathing problems.

Eventually, the mass gets so large that your lungs can no longer process oxygen and you expire.

Asbestos was used heavily through the first half of the 20th century. It was commonly used as an insulator of every kind from pipe covering, to ductwork, to hot pads like you would use in your dining room, to electrical wiring. Brake pads on cars used asbestos for its heat rejection properties. It was also used as a filler material in plaster, floor tiles, some ceiling tiles, mastics, slate-like siding, roofing felt, and tons of composite building materials. Even some of the loose-fill vermiculite insulation that many people find in their attics contained high concentrations of asbestos.

I knew a several guys in the insulation industry that spent their apprenticeship shoveling raw asbestos that would come in on rail cars. They would fill 80 pound bags that would be sent out to jobsites to be mixed with cement and used on pipe fittings. They aren't with us anymore. My wifes uncle being one of them.  Asbestos was their demise.


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #15 on: 13 Oct 2006, 03:13 am »
I wish I could live without having to worry about asbestos, but in NYC, unless one purchases a newer property at ridiculous prices, when it comes to a single family house, most of it is rather Vintage, from the era of prohibition and the great depression.  So, I stumbled on this property, it is in a good location, but how the housing engineer said, there is asbestos and that can either be enclosed or gotten rid of, something that will happen when I happen to sell the house again, to someone else.

Due to all these concerns, I called an asbestos abatement company and the person told me that things under 25 ft would cost around $600...but usually, with the type of house that I was describing him, there might be up to 100 ft, which would mean that the removal would cost 3K.  With the later, that would mean that they would need to file paperwork with the NYC DEP, in order to get it approved.  The entire process of filing and getting permission, to removal would take about 1 and 1/2 weeks. 

The person I have spoken to told me that there is no mandate that states that the property needs to be properly clean up or dealt with asbestos prior to passing the title to someone else.  Therefore, there is not much I will be able to do.  Perhaps I will attempt to negotiate the clean up, but I do blame the housing bubble for having people bypass this sort of sticky issue...a house was more like a gold mine during the boom times and it is just now that buyers are becoming more demanding and sellers, will need to be a lot of accomodating than they were for the past 5 years. 

Asides from Asbestos, does anyone know any good procedures in order to contain humidity outside of the basement, materials, sites etc?  What about this Radon issue?
« Last Edit: 13 Oct 2006, 12:56 pm by Bemopti123 »


Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #16 on: 13 Oct 2006, 08:25 am »
HI Paul, congrats to buying a house. A few thoughts:

- heed these warnings on Asbestos!

- I would defiinitely try to make the presence of Asbestos a negotiation point, even if you already closed the deal. This would especially be the case if the seller did not disclose this.

- I would look at the Asbestos removal as an investment that may not lead to a higher price in the future but definitely makes your house a lower risk to any prospective buyer, allowing you to move it quickly once you have that need.

Good luck and let us know how the story continues.



Re: Redoing a basement and ASBESTOS clean up, yikes.
« Reply #17 on: 13 Oct 2006, 10:23 am »
Thanks for the reminder, Scott.  It all came back to me.

Paul, did you make an offer on the house yet??
If I were you I'd get a couple quotes  on removal and take that off your offer price.  That way YOU know it was done correctly.  Not just removed and particals blowing around everythime the heat kicks on.

Also, buy or have the seller pay for a home warranty.  They are cheep and should not stop the sale.

Pay for a home inspection.  You can learn alot if you don't know what to look for.