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Old boiler with potential asbestos cement


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Does anyone recognize the cement patching on this old boiler. It must be at least 40 years old and I am wondering if it may contain asbestos cement?

One picture shows patching around a hinge and where the motor meets the boiler. The other is where the flue meets up with the chimney.

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Originally posted by robster

Does anyone recognize the cement patching on this old boiler. It must be at least 40 years old and I am wondering if it may contain asbestos cement?

One picture shows patching around a hinge and where the motor meets the boiler. The other is where the flue meets up with the chimney.

It looks like furnace cement. In that era, I think that pretty much all furnace cement contained asbestos. I used to have a package of it that was actually called, "Asbestos Furnace Cement." Nowadays, all of the packages say "Non-Asbestos Furnace Cement." How times change.

I'd be sure to alert the buyer to what he's buying. However, if it were my house, I wouldn't be at all concerned about the health effects of asbestos in a product like that. It isn't really friable and, since this is a boiler instead of a furnace, it isn't like the little bit of asbestos that's likely to be released from this stuff is going to be blown around anyway.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by robster

ok thanks. I am asking because the boiler is to be removed and replaced with a gas unit, and I want to find out if this poses any risk

The only way to be 100% sure is to have it tested. Take some scrapings to a lab that test for asbestos and you will know for sure. Or if you need a special license in Canada or in Quebec to do that, have it done by an appropriate person.

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Most Boilers of this vintage were probably patched with some sort of cement containing asbestos at one time. Just like lead paint.

Using the same logic, iven the age of the boiler are u concerned at all with the presense of lead paint in the house?

If the boiler has been regularly service by a competent technician. Most of the Asbestos laden material has probably been removed and/or sealed over by paint.

If any concerns persist have the air in the house tested.

Since it's being torn out reccommend having it removed by a certified Asbestos mitigation firm.

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The previous 2 posts aren't necessarily accurate IMHO.

1) Just because a furnace tech has serviced the thing, that doesn't mean ACM's have been removed.

2) Removal means disturbance, which usually means fiber release.

Not that removal is complicated, but there are protocols and procedures, and there's disposal, which is another step. The average DIY'er doesn't have a clue about where to take the stuff, which means it ends up in a dump or someone else's neighborhood.

So, no freak out about asbestos, but let's not make up rules for how to deal with the stuff.

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I have paid to have numerous tests done. In fact I bought two 13,000 sq buildings one loaded with asbestos hard board. The only way to release it, is to cut it. Just wet it and remove it. If you want to be absolutely certain. That aside the product we are looking at in the pic is so small it is fine for the homeowner to remove. The rules, I'm familiar with them. Heres one.

ASBESTOS-CEMENT PRODUCTS

Asbestos-cement products (such as transite) are commonly used for duct insulation, pipes, and siding. Being a Category II nonfriable ACM, asbestos-cement products need to be removed prior to demolition if they have a high probability of becoming crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder during demolition activities. EPA believes that most demolition activities will subject such Category II nonfriable ACM to the regulation.

Whether asbestos-cement products are subject to the asbestos NESHAP should be determined by the owner or operator on a case-by-case basis based on the demolition techniques to be used. In general, if contractors carefully remove asbestos-cement materials using tools that do not cause significant damage, the materials are not considered RACM and can be disposed of with other construction debris.

However, if demolition is accomplished through the use of cranes (equipped with wrecking balls, clamshells or buckets), hydraulic excavators, or implosion/explosion techniques, asbestos-cement products will be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder, and are subject to the provisions of the asbestos NESHAP.

Some demolition contractors do not treat significantly damaged asbestos-cement products as RACM; they mix it with other demolition debris and dispose of it in direct violation of the waste-disposal provisions of the asbestos NESHAP

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Originally posted by energy star

The rules, I'm familiar with them. Heres one.

ASBESTOS-CEMENT PRODUCTS

Asbestos-cement products (such as transite) are commonly used for duct insulation, pipes, and siding. Being a Category II nonfriable ACM, asbestos-cement products need to be removed prior to demolition if they have a high probability of becoming crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder during demolition activities. EPA believes that most demolition activities will subject such Category II nonfriable ACM to the regulation.

Whether asbestos-cement products are subject to the asbestos NESHAP should be determined by the owner or operator on a case-by-case basis based on the demolition techniques to be used. In general, if contractors carefully remove asbestos-cement materials using tools that do not cause significant damage, the materials are not considered RACM and can be disposed of with other construction debris.

However, if demolition is accomplished through the use of cranes (equipped with wrecking balls, clamshells or buckets), hydraulic excavators, or implosion/explosion techniques, asbestos-cement products will be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder, and are subject to the provisions of the asbestos NESHAP.

Some demolition contractors do not treat significantly damaged asbestos-cement products as RACM; they mix it with other demolition debris and dispose of it in direct violation of the waste-disposal provisions of the asbestos NESHAP

Glad I found someone who knows the rules. Would you mind telling me what the rule is about asbestos removal in Crystal Lake, IL. ? Thanks much.

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Well, since there are fundamental differences between asbestos cement products and asbestos containing furnace cement, and packed asbestos on boilers, and myriad other forms of ACM's scattered through every old house, I think it wise to understand there are rules for all of them.

Putting up a single rule applicable to the least "dangerous" of the ACM's almost makes it seem like someone understands something. Owning buildings with ACM's doesn't make one knowledgeable. If that were the case, every homeowner in Chicago would be knowledgeable.

Like I said, asbestos isn't a freak out, but one should understand a few things. Like wetting agents. Containment. Different materials and characteristics. Removal tools, bags, and equipment. Disposal requirements. That sort of stuff.

Honestly, ACM removal is something anyone could do. It's easy and safe, if you know what you're doing. The bulk air grab sampling that's part of any removal isn't something anyone can do. Neither is disposal. Whether or not these things matter can be debated by others, but there are "rules" any intelligent removal project includes.

Since this is a professional inspectors forum, it'd be nice to keep it professional, which means respecting the rules the governing bodies have laid out, as silly or as unnecessary as they may seem.

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I'm going to chime in with a couple of thoughts.

First off I would caution the readers of Bill's post regarding demo of ACMs to carefully read his posted rule(s). Me thinks the rule tells the uninitiated it is not ok to smash the boiler materials. If you do substantial damage to the material, then you have a problem with cross contamination and disposal. So how you going to remove it from the casting? Hammers? Saws?

How many folks reading this have watched or supervised an abatement project?

What is the permissible level of exposure for demo workers?

Is it possible to contaminate entire house by doing the demo yourself?

I agree with Kurt. The rules are there, right or wrong, so follow them. Asbestos is tricky stuff.

Around here the removal of the boiler would be in the $7500 range. Of course I could likely get it done by the local trash hauler for $200.

I am not an asbestos expert, but have worked on a couple dozen legal files involving it. I am an expert on methods and materials and can get really fussy when I find someone that does not consider all the ramifications of an unapproved protocol.

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Update:

The cement-like material where the flue (vent) joins to the cement chimney tested out at 75-90% chrysotile asbestos.

In fact it is more of a fibrous-plaster type 'crumbly' mix just below the painted surface and it seems to be more on the friable side, imho ( ie: when you touch it it falls apart).

I don't think that this should be touched unless proper precautions are taken. What exactly would those precautions be?

When the adjacent furnace was removed last week it was a mess. The furnace itself was demolished and the large steel plates were dragged out the door. It appeared to me that any material removed in that case may have been placed in a garbage bag but I don't think that it had been wetted down.

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Maybe more than that. The lab described it as a fibrous material. Now that I've had another look, it's actually a more fibrous insulation material covered by a thin coat of a plaster like substance. So from the outside it just looks like cement, but that is just the covering. In some places where the coating is thin, if you press on it it will give. How much exactly is hard to tell, at the time they probably did a good job and stuffed it really well:)

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"Will all said material fill a small coffee can? I would just wet and remove."

and what would you wet it with?

Sounds like the unit is gone and the friable asbestos is floating around the house.

Maybe it is just me, but 75% asbestos is pretty good stuff! (regardless of amount)

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Couple more things.......

In my asbestos classes, we were taught that certain types of asbestos will decompose upon exposure to atmosphere; it will poof out microscopic fibers that hang in the air for weeks or months. It doesn't necessarily have to be abraded or otherwise damaged to release fiber.

Contrary to intuitive analysis, water is not, by itself, a wetting agent. Water has to have an additive to reduce surface tension so the water can spread over the subject material. Soap works pretty well. It's simple, but it ain't just water.

Coffee cans are not toxic material transport cannisters. There is the dicey problem of what to do with the stuff. I understand that it poses little or no risk in many, many situations, but it's better if this stuff is dealt with in as close to a uniform protocol as we can achieve. Just tossing it into the landfill isn't environmentally responsible, and it isn't good citizenship.

Not to be the frump, but it would be good to keep this in a professional analysis model, not folklore hillbilly stuff.

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A nice wetting agent is cheap fabric softner mixed with a little water. Two fingers in a shot glass, hold your nose and the flatulance is like a spring breeze. Kurt is right.

Energy star, I am sorry if I offended. Sometimes I bait a little more than I should. Likely because I typically post as I would speak in person.

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Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time getting really worked up and worried over asbestos.

I guess if there was a way that we could completely remove it from the environment I'd like to see that happen, but in my mind the damage is already done; we've been exposed to it our entire lives and if it hasn't killed us yet I don't think it's likely to with casual exposure. Hell, if I came down with mesothelioma right now, who could I condemn for causing me to get it; my father 'cuz he had me working in a dusty environment on construction sites as a kid, the army for having me buff dry asbestos floor surfaces to a high gloss, the auto industry for the brake dust I breathed while changing brake pads on a car, the transportation departments of every entity on the planet for not removing the asbestos-laden dust from alongside the highway, the company that made the insulation in the attic of the house I lived in as a kid, the school district in my home town that had us sit there day after day in rooms with busted up friable insulation on old steam pipes in school, etc.?

Crimeny, it takes a quarter of a century or thereabouts for the stuff to cause you to develop symptoms and it's alleged that one fiber trapped in lung tissue can kill you! How many millions of people have lived to very old age who were exposed to it for decades before anyone knew it caused these diseases and then died of old age with very healthy lungs? What's the percentage of people who die from exposure every year? Is it lesser or greater than those who die slipping in the bathtub, are hit by lightning, have a heart attack while having sex, slip and fall down the stairs, choke on a piece of meat, commit suicide or die because they were dumb enough to get in a car after drinking and then try to drive home?

I know and appreciate the fact that we've got to write this stuff to cover our butts, but it just seems so pointless to worry about asbestos when there are so many other things that pose a far higher chance of killing us - my wife when she's pissed off for one thing.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by kurt

In my asbestos classes, we were taught that certain types of asbestos will decompose upon exposure to atmosphere; it will poof out microscopic fibers that hang in the air for weeks or months. It doesn't necessarily have to be abraded or otherwise damaged to release fiber.

As long as we're on the topic of mishandling toxic waste, I thought some here might like to know the same is true for lead paint. Enough lead dust to present a serious health risk can be released from UV exposure with out any additional abraiding of the surfaces or chewing on window sills. I know this because I am a certified lead hazard remodeler, and despite my being careful with my own home, my son had a severe case of lead poisoning. He was only 2 micrograms below the threshold for hospitalization and painful medical treatment. His poisoning was not the result of careless work practices, but because nearly every surface in and on the house was covered in lead paint. As a parent I was mortified that I put my son at such risk, I was embarrased as a professional that should have known better. There was also the nightmare of dealing with the County Health Department and the requesite clean up.

My point is that as a professional, one should understand the correct methods for handling toxic materials, and advise their clients of the risks of not handling them properly. Just like anything else we report on, they will make their own decision regarding what amount of risk is acceptable to them.

Tom

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Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time getting really worked up and worried over asbestos.

I guess if there was a way that we could completely remove it from the environment I'd like to see that happen, but in my mind the damage is already done; we've been exposed to it our entire lives and if it hasn't killed us yet I don't think it's likely to with casual exposure. Hell, if I came down with mesothelioma right now, who could I condemn for causing me to get it; my father 'cuz he had me working in a dusty environment on construction sites as a kid, the army for having me buff dry asbestos floor surfaces to a high gloss, the auto industry for the brake dust I breathed while changing brake pads on a car, the transportation departments of every entity on the planet for not removing the asbestos-laden dust from alongside the highway, the company that made the insulation in the attic of the house I lived in as a kid, the school district in my home town that had us sit there day after day in rooms with busted up friable insulation on old steam pipes in school, etc.?

Crimeny, it takes a quarter of a century or thereabouts for the stuff to cause you to develop symptoms and it's alleged that one fiber trapped in lung tissue can kill you! How many millions of people have lived to very old age who were exposed to it for decades before anyone knew it caused these diseases and then died of old age with very healthy lungs? What's the percentage of people who die from exposure every year? Is it lesser or greater than those who die slipping in the bathtub, are hit by lightning, have a heart attack while having sex, slip and fall down the stairs, choke on a piece of meat, commit suicide or die because they were dumb enough to get in a car after drinking and then try to drive home?

I know and appreciate the fact that we've got to write this stuff to cover our butts, but it just seems so pointless to worry about asbestos when there are so many other things that pose a far higher chance of killing us - my wife when she's pissed off for one thing.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Sure, I know all that. I don't disagree. But that's philosophy, not trade practice.

I'm just trying to advance an idea that maybe folks understand the material characteristics, then, as Tom said, folks can decide for themselves. That means describing the sometimes goofy EPA mantras and published materials.

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