Asbestos Removal: DIY or Hire Professional?

LESLIE: Jason in Iowa is dealing with some asbestos removal, a topic I’m very familiar with these days.

Jason, what’s going on at your money pit?

JASON: Well, we bought a house. And in the basement, the ductwork has crumbling asbestos tape around all the seams. And I didn’t know it was asbestos at first. A gentleman – a friend of mine kind of told me that it was, which was good to know because I would have just started tearing it off there.

But I know that it can be dangerous. And I’ve been told to put on a good HEPA-filter mask and wet the filters and such and you can take it off and wear gloves and be careful. But is that really the case? I mean do I have to legally hire a professional to come in and remove something like that?

TOM: Preparing yourself for asbestos removal is definitely the smart thing to do, Jason. Because the problem with asbestos is it’s very, very fine. It’s finer than smoke. If you were to release asbestos particles and assuming there was no wind, it would take eight hours for them to hit the floor; that’s how fine they are.

So what you are seeing is only part of the problem. What you’re physically seeing, those chunks, is only part of it. This is a situation where you really can’t do it yourself.

LESLIE: Yeah. And the other part of the asbestos removal equation is the disposal. It’s like you can’t just take it and put it in a trash bag and stick it outside.

JASON: Right.

LESLIE: I’m in the process of having asbestos shingles removed from my home, on the exterior. And they have to be not only properly taken down and packed up in a certain manner but they have to be completely driven off to another state and certified that they’ve been disposed of in a proper manner. Now, I’m sure with just the tape wrapping the piping, that’s not going to be the extreme case there but you do have to make sure that it’s disposed of properly. You don’t want to get in any trouble.

TOM: And by the way, Jason, you can’t visually identify asbestos. So the very first thing you should do is to have some – a sample of the material tested to confirm that it is, in fact, asbestos.

JASON: And who would do that?

TOM: An asbestos lab.

Leslie, you just had asbestos testing done. Who did you use for that? Was it a local lab?

LESLIE: It was a local company that also does the removal. But there are several companies. I would just look locally at asbestos removal. And it was fairly simple and the test took about two days. And it gives you a percentage of asbestos found in the item and it’s interesting.

JASON: Well, thanks so much for your time and hopefully it won’t be too costly that I have to call it a “money pit.”

TOM: OK, Jason. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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