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Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fibre.  As it is resistant to high temperatures and is a great insulator, it made it an ideal building material.  However, the devastating development of asbestos related health conditions, most of which are terminal within a short time from diagnosis, has seen this building material banned. 

Asbestos was used a very common building material in Australia for a good 50 years.  From the mid-1940s until the late-1980s saw most new builds contain asbestos. 

In December 2003 legislation was passed which resulted in a total ban of asbestos material being used, manufactured, imported and the like. 

Residential Buildings

As asbestos was relatively cheap, and had many benefits, including benefits related to construction costs, its ability to be resistant to high temperatures, in addition to being a very effective insulator.  It is these reasons that made asbestos a very attractive building product and was used extensively throughout new home builds and renovations, which were usually and frequently undertaken by Mum and Dad home renovators. 

There are two types of asbestos products most commonly found in residential buildings, bonded asbestos products and friable asbestos products.

Bonded Asbestos Products. 

Bonded asbestos products are perhaps the most common. These products are a result of asbestos fibres used in combination with when another material.  Common bonding materials include resin and cement.  If an asbestos material is bonded, then it cannot be crushed or crumbled by hand.

Bonded asbestos products which were commonly used around residential homes include the following:

  • Thermal boards around fireplaces in the home;
  • Interior and exterior wall cladding
  • Roofing
  • Shingles
  • Eaves
  • Fences
  • Water or flue pipes

Should you be renovating or intending to complete a demolition of an older style residential property, particularly one built in the 1970’s or 1980’s it is critical that you have an expert conduct a thorough walk through of your building. As expert will pay careful attention to note the presence of any of the above products.

Friable Asbestos Products

These products are ones that can usually be crushed easily by hand.  When this happens, as these products generally contain more asbestos fibres, those fibres become airborne a lot easier (when dry).  This creates a dangerous situation to anyone in the vicinity, not just the person holding the product. 

Some examples of friable asbestos products include:

  • Spray on insulation (which was also used for soundproofing of rooms);
  • Low-density asbestos fibre board
  • Insulation, commonly known as lagging, which was commonly used around hot-water pipes, heaters and stoves
  • Backing material on floor tiling and vinyl floors
  • Textured paints and decorative ceiling coatings
  • Heat-resistant fabrics
  • Brick and plaster sealants, fillers and some adhesive products.

Commercial Buildings

As mentioned above, due to asbestos being hardy, high temperature resistant and relatively cheap to produce, it was used extensively throughout buildings, including commercial buildings from around the mid 1940’s to the late 1980’s.

Siilarly to residential buildings, common places that you would find asbestos products in a commercial building include:

  • Gutters
  • Door mouldings,
  • Rainwater heads,
  • Window moulding and louvre blades
  • Side flashing
  • Asbestos cement downpipes
  • ‘internal lining of switchboards
  • Skylight and manhole frames
  • Fluted ridge capping used on plain roll, fluted saddle ridge, sawtooth ridge capping and ventilating ridge
  • Compressed wall sheeting used for toilet partitions and sheet flooring
  • Hardiflex wall sheeting or compressed sheeting

Asbestos is very effective, harmless, and completely fine building material if left undisturbed.  However, if it becomes damaged in any way, or there is an attempt to move it, extreme care and precautions must be undertaken by a qualified professional who is licensed to remove the asbestos material.  That’s where the qualified and experienced team at About The House come in!

With About The House offering a comprehensive range of asbestos testing and removal services, at affordable rates, engaging the services of a trusted and well-respected asbestos removal service, will ensure you can enjoy your home for many years to come, without the worry of breathing in deadly materials.

If you need asbestos removal, or simply want to get a sample tested prior to undertaking a renovation at your home, get in touch with us today.