What Are the Risks of Renovations Without Asbestos Removal

When spring arrives, the warm weather will often get property owners thinking about repairs, renovations, and upgrades. Whether bad winter weather caused damage that needed to be addressed or days spent indoors had you thinking about improvements that could be made to your property, spring is typically the time where most people start taking action, from insulation upgrades to indoor remodels.

When you start working on your home, especially when those upgrades involve altering or replacing existing building materials, it’s imperative that you consider that you may need asbestos removal in Toronto. Investing in abatement can spare you adverse health effects of exposure as well as the cost of delays and interruptions to your renovations.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that was used heavily in the mid-to-late 20th century construction for its superior heat resistance, affordability, and durability. The mineral was mined across Canada and used to fortify a number of building materials, in an effort to make them safer and last longer. The mineral has a fibrous make up of rigid needles that are extremely sensitive to contact when not encapsulated properly. If these fibers are released into the environment, they can easily be inhaled by anyone in the area. The more you are exposed to asbestos, the more likely it is to cause harm. 

Risks of Renovating with Asbestos

If your property was built or renovated in Canada during the late 20th century, approximately between the 1960s and 1990s, there’s an increased risk of asbestos in your building materials. Before beginning maintenance, demolition, and renovation activities, schedule an asbestos inspection with a trusted restoration company in Toronto. Investing in asbestos removal costs will help you mitigate the risks, keeping you, your family, employees, and even your contractors safe. 

Health Implications of Asbestos Exposure

When asbestos fibers are airborne, they can be ingested or inhaled inadvertently. At this stage the needle-like fibers enter the airway or esophagus where they don’t break down. Instead, the fibers damage and scar the tissue and organs along the way. Over time, this scarring has been connected to chronic conditions like lung cancer and mesothelioma. The best way to protect yourself and those around you from these harmful health conditions is with preventative asbestos removal in Toronto, prior to starting your renovations.  

Avoid Stop Work Orders

If asbestos is detected on your property or construction site by local authorities, or asbestos is reported, and official asbestos removal has not been conducted, you may receive a stop work order or costly fines. Not only will this inhibit the execution of your spring renovations it can also include a hefty fine that causes the cost of your project to skyrocket. By scheduling an inspection from a certified restoration company and investing in asbestos removal costs from a reputable service provider, you will minimize unexpected expenses later on while staying on track with your project.

Understanding Asbestos and Friability

One of the most significant factors that affect the risk asbestos-containing materials pose to you at any point, is friability. 

Friable asbestos is material that can be easily crumbled or reduced to powder by hand pressure. This type includes items like insulation, spray-applied fireproofing, and certain acoustical materials. Due to its loose composition, friable asbestos poses a higher risk of releasing dangerous fibers into the air, which can be inhaled and cause serious health issues, including lung disease and cancer.

Non-friable asbestos, on the other hand, is found in materials where asbestos fibers are more tightly bound with other components, such as in vinyl floor tiles, roofing felts, and cement products. These materials do not easily release asbestos fibers unless they are subjected to strong forces or deterioration. However, non-friable asbestos can become friable if it is damaged or disturbed by cutting, sanding, or other aggressive actions.

When dealing with asbestos, it’s essential to evaluate whether the material is friable or non-friable to determine the risk of fiber release and to decide the safest method for handling, removal, or containment. Professional assessment and intervention are advised to manage the removal of friable materials safely, while non-friable materials may require less stringent precautions unless they are damaged or being modified. In all cases, following regulatory guidelines and employing certified asbestos removal experts is key to ensuring that both types of asbestos are managed in a manner that protects health and safety.

Building Materials That Put Your at Risk for Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos was used in many building materials, but there are some that are more likely to put you at risk of exposure than others. Some of the most common asbestos-containing materials identified and encountered during renovations and construction include:

  • Insulation: Loose-fill insulation, specifically vermiculite insulation, often requires asbestos removal in Toronto. When vermiculite was being mined the deposits were often contaminated with asbestos, which led to the mineral being used in many attics. In other cases, asbestos was added to loose-fill insulation to better protect against fires and improve the efficacy of the insulation. As the insulation deteriorates and the performance declines, many homeowners need an upgrade which involves removing the old materials. For this to be done safely, it’s imperative that you engage experienced and certified asbestos experts.
  • Popcorn Ceilings & Drywall: Asbestos was used in ceilings and drywall to strengthen the material and slow the spread of structure fires. While the hazardous mineral is not found in many modern instances of popcorn ceilings, those built in the late 20th century are more at risk. With flat ceilings being more in-style, many people attempt to scrape their popcorn ceiling on their own. If you have an asbestos ceiling this process is incredibly dangerous. Additionally the removal of asbestos containing drywall and gypsum board can also release dangerous fibers into the air during renovations and remodels. To be safe, conducting an asbestos inspection prior to construction will identify asbestos ahead of time, so you can plan your renovation accordingly and factor your asbestos removal costs into your overall budget. 
  • Pipe & Duct Wrap: When pipe and HVAC repairs and updates are required, it can put you in the vicinity of asbestos without you even realizing it. Asbestos was used in pipe and duct wrap for insulation. The purpose was to improve energy-efficiency and durability, while once again minimizing unwanted heat transfer. Pipe leaks and water damage can compromise the integrity of these materials, increasing the risk of airborne asbestos fibers and exposure. If you need water damage restoration on your property, consult professionals that understand the risk of mold, water damage, and asbestos for a safer and more holistic approach to restoration. 
  • Floor & Ceiling Tiles: Asbestos was commonly used in floor and ceiling tiles as a strength enhancer and fire retardant. In many buildings constructed before the late 20th century, these tiles remain a hidden hazard underfoot and overhead. In floor tiles, asbestos can be released during renovations, repairs, or even routine maintenance, such as drilling or replacing cracked tiles. Similarly, asbestos in ceiling tiles poses risks during activities like replacing lighting fixtures or accessing overhead spaces for wiring tasks. The disturbance of these materials can send asbestos fibers airborne, creating significant health risks. To ensure safety, it is crucial to have these tiles inspected by asbestos professionals before undertaking any work that might disturb them. Recognizing the presence of asbestos can guide the appropriate removal procedures, thereby integrating the costs and safety measures into your renovation plans effectively and safely.

Investing in Asbestos-Free Living

The thought of asbestos can be overwhelming, but when you work with a leading restoration company, experienced in asbestos inspections and removal, you can be assured that your investment in asbestos removal costs will result in healthier living spaces.

Home Base Project Team
Home Base Project Team
At The Home Base Project, we offer practical, real-life tips and inspiration about DIY, decorating and gardening. The Home Base Project provide the best information about home renovation and design, connecting home design enthusiasts and home professionals across the world.