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"A" in walls


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Got a call tonight from a past client. He stripped wallpaper and discovered a cementitious material underneath. He wants to know if he should worry about asbestos.

The home was built in 1900. Asbestos was used in some of these materials (hell, it was used everywhere back then).

I'm curious about what some of you say/do in these situations.

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In my opinion, Asbestos was and is a pretty good invention/product when in it's proper place. If you don't disturb it, it's pretty safe.

The only way to be sure if it is present in your friends wall is to test it. The cementious material may simply be that... cement. Used in the process of plastering.

So, he could remove it, which is disturbing it, dangerous and costly... when done legal. I do know of dumps that will accept it at no charge to a homeowner, but a contractor has to pay dearly to dump it.

If he encapsulates it, he will not disturb it and then I feel it is ok. Why don't you simply recommend laminating 1/4 sheetrock over it.

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Steve and Chad, thanks for your responses.

I don't think there's much doubt that asbestos is a great material when not friable. But as the tunnel rats in D.C. discovered, it can devastate one's health.

It is also likely that cracked plaster was parged for papering as Chad said, but that parge might easily contain asbestos - and the couple has 3 young kids in the house.

I'm going to contact an approved asbestos lab to ask what their experience is locally.

Kurt, you must see this quite a bit, no????

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So far, I've found asbestos in paint, plaster, parging over plaster, plaster scratch coats, paper underlying plaster & stucco scratch coats, in stucco scratch & finish coats, as fire blocking in stud walls, wrapped on wooden electrical boxes, around pipes, wires, and heating ducts in all forms, and paper underlayment behind some woodwork.

I read somewhere that asbestos was used in over 3000 building products for >100 years.

If it's an old house, it's essentially guaranteed there's asbestos in there, not in one place, but dozens of places.

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Gotta be careful about thinking folks are adults. There are no adults; only grown up children. Baby Boomers should be understood to be Babies, not Boomers or anything else.

This is probably a corollary to my fine whine the other day about warning folks about still yet another "safety" concern.

The impossible list any adult should know & understand, but that no individual I know, save for a couple folks on this forum, has any inkling of, and if informed of such, will panic and figure we're all going to die agonizing gruesome deaths.

How does one accurately & precisely convey the idea that this hazardous material, the "A" word, is in everything, everywhere, a component of the atmosphere, and not something to be all that concerned about?

Can't be done, as we would then be contradicting all published information, and appear to be philistines. Society has decided we are the one's that must bear the mantle of protectors of all, right down to the last little kitchen range anti-tip bracket, so I guess we're screwed.

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Kurt,

Well put. In that vein, I have found three things that make my life easier. Knowlege is at the top of the list. Second and third are; show confidence, and have an open friendliness about you.

I've been around the construction industry long enough to know the vernacular, but I learn every day.

When this client called me, he felt he was calling a caring friend. He was.

I was proactive regarding his concerns. I hooked him up directly with a qualified local lab and told him how much it will cost (cheap). I gave him alternatives and provided useful information for applying drywall over plaster. I told him to always feel free to call with any questions.

He is very appreciative, feels like he has a friend, and wants me to come over this summer to see how he and his wife have fixed the place up.

That's how it always seems to go. I get a call. I imagine a lawyer nipping at my ba**s. I do all I can to help. Finally, I realize the client never thought once about litigation. But I know I'll always be paranoid because that's the kind of weirdo I am. [:-eyebrow

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Hey!

My first pick was the beer foam, but I didn't want to encroach on cgmuffin. He claimed it first.

If I really wanted to scare you, I'd put up an actual photo! Or maybe Kurt's photo - close up, not one at a distance cruising the water.

I kinda miss that really mean looking dude with the cigar in his mouth - I don't remember who had that one.

Originally posted by hausdok

Yeah, we figured that out when we saw your avatar, Gary. [:-bigmout

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Originally posted by ozofprev

I was proactive regarding his concerns. I hooked him up directly with a qualified local lab and told him how much it will cost (cheap). I gave him alternatives and provided useful information for applying drywall over plaster. I told him to always feel free to call with any questions.

He is very appreciative, feels like he has a friend, and wants me to come over this summer to see how he and his wife have fixed the place up.

That's how it always seems to go. I get a call. I imagine a lawyer nipping at my ba**s. I do all I can to help. Finally, I realize the client never thought once about litigation. But I know I'll always be paranoid because that's the kind of weirdo I am. [:-eyebrow

That's the smart way to do it. That's been my approach also.

I get similar calls a few times a year; when you work old houses, folks want to tear them up, and when they get torn up, folks find stuff.

It's fun helping people figure out the stuff.

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Originally posted by kurt

So far, I've found asbestos in paint, plaster, parging over plaster, plaster scratch coats, paper underlying plaster & stucco scratch coats, in stucco scratch & finish coats, as fire blocking in stud walls, wrapped on wooden electrical boxes, around pipes, wires, and heating ducts in all forms, and paper underlayment behind some woodwork.

I read somewhere that asbestos was used in over 3000 building products for >100 years. . . .

And the Romans made napkins out of it. To clean the napkins, they'd throw them in the fire.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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