What to Do with Old Asbestos Siding
When you find asbestos siding on your old home or a house you are thinking of buying, you may want to get a second opinion before spending a lot of money to hire a licensed contractor to rip the siding off. Asbestos isnt a problem unless you mess with it, so there are a few options you can consider before taking action.
When non-friable cement asbestos is disturbed (cut, sawed, drilled, hacked or broken), fibers are released into the air as dust creating a health hazard. Inhaling these tiny asbestos fibers wont affect your health immediately, but once the fibers from the asbestos siding get in your lungs they remain there and can lead to respiratory problems, even cancer. But thats a worst case scenario as less than 1% of the siding contains asbestos.
Cover the Siding
If the siding is made from asbestos products and its in good shape, then your best course is to leave it alone. But if it is cracked or you simply want to replace it, then here are a couple of ideas.
One option is to encapsulate the asbestos and the siding by painting it with a latex masonry primer and a heat-resistant paint or sealant. This is a rather inexpensive solution, yet encapsulating is almost always a temporary fix and may even make the later removal and replacement of the siding more difficult. Another idea is to hire a company to spray liquid siding over the old stuff. While this option is more expensive, it will last 25 years.
Another option if you want new siding would be to could cover the old asbestos containing siding with rigid foam insulation to provide a level surface and then installing the new siding over it. This option isnt recommended by many experts though, who caution that the shingles may shift underneath, the nails driven into the old asbestos siding will disturb the fibers, and you may in fact void the warranty on the new materials with this type of installation. Not to mention that seepage can occur if there are gaps between the two levels of siding.
Remove the Siding
If the old siding is in good condition, the best option is to remove it yourself. Just be sure to take precautions when removing asbestos products: wear long sleeves, pants, a dusk mask, eye protection, and gloves, and be careful when removing it. This is not time for brutal demolition as you want to avoid generating dust or otherwise pulverizing the asbestos containing siding.
Your final task will be to dispose of it properly. Check local regulations regarding disposal of solid waste, and if it is allowed, you can rent a dumpster, fill it, and have it hauled away and disposed of properly. Its important to plan your project through this final step; disposing of large quantities of asbestos siding may be so expensive that you might even save money by having the siding removed and disposed of by a professional company.
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