Asbestos in homes – If you’ve been home shopping lately and are considering older homes that need an update, you’ve probably seen your share of popcorn ceilings. After all, in the late 1960s and through the 1970s, they were all the rage.
Everyone wanted one of these cool ceilings, which gave rooms a mod look and let your visitors know that you coveted all the latest trends in homebuilding. Indeed, even individuals who owned homes built prior to the introduction of the popcorn ceiling decided to install them, hoping to keep up with the times.
Most homeowners were unaware, however, that these ceilings – covered with “popcorn paint” – usually contained asbestos. The toxic material was used in most brands of textured ceiling paint.
That means homeowners didn’t think twice about doing things that might compromise their health, like drilling to install light fixtures or hang other objects from the ceiling. Any time that ceiling was manipulated in any way, asbestos dust may have been released.
Today, of course, most homeowners who still have popcorn ceilings in their houses know of the concern about asbestos. Some have addressed these concerns. Others have not. Some homeowners with popcorn ceilings installed after the Clean Air Act of 1978 think they’re safe from harm but, in actuality, they may not be.
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, though the application of sprayed on asbestos-containing coatings was banned in 1977, popcorn ceilings installed as late as (approximately) 1986 may have still contained asbestos. They note that existing inventories of asbestos-bearing texturing materials were exempt from the ban.
The government did this to minimize economic hardship to suppliers and installers, so the paint was used until these companies ran out. Sadly, this practice of phasing out the materials may have caught some homeowners off-guard.
Remember, asbestos that is intact and not damaged rarely causes a health hazard. So, if your popcorn ceilings look just fine and you subject them to inspection now and then to make sure they stay that way, all is most likely well. However, if you notice a fair amount of damage and wear-and-tear to your textured ceilings, it may be time to address them.
Most avid DIYers, of course, are determined to do as many jobs as possible on their own, hoping to save as much money as possible. However, when it comes to asbestos removal, the most prudent advice is HANDS OFF!
The best first step in addressing a less-than-pristine textured ceiling is to hire a certified asbestos inspection company to determine the condition and the best steps to take if there is indeed a concern. The inspector may suggest repair or removal.
Repair SHOULD NOT be attempted by yourself, even if the issues are minor. Many inspection companies can do the assessment AND the repair, so consider that option first or ask your inspector for a recommendation for an asbestos abatement professional.
If your ceilings require removal due to damage or if you wish to remove the ceilings for aesthetic reasons, you will definitely need the services of an asbestos abatement company. Before hiring one, be sure to check their credentials to be assured that they are properly certified. Get references, if possible.
Furthermore, make sure no one is in the home while removal is happening, including pets. Also, be sure the company cleans up well after the procedure and do not re-enter the house until you are satisfied that all dust has been removed.
If you’ve previously encountered asbestos materials while doing DIY work on textured ceilings and you’ve been sickened by that exposure, contact an attorney to verify your legal rights. Companies that made or installed textured paint may be liable for your injuries and you may be eligible for compensation.