Did you know that many homes throughout the United States had asbestos siding at one point? Houses constructed between the 1920s and the 1980s tried to maximize on the material’s durability and inexpensiveness. It wasn’t until later that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) learned about the risk that asbestos can pose to people. If you’re not familiar with this topic, we’ll start by providing a little bit of background.
What is Asbestos?
It’s a naturally occurring mineral (or rather set of minerals) with a silicate structure and long fiber-like appearance. At the beginning of the 20thcentury, industrialists realized that incorporating asbestos into fabrics, insulation, and even cement shingles could improve these all these products. Then, it seems like the perfect solution! Not only was it cheap in terms of manufacturing, but also it made all of these substances stronger. When it came to siding, asbestos could make it last longer, adhere to paint better, and become more fire-resistant. Unfortunately, the same fibrous formula that made it useful, also caused great damage if inhaled into human lungs. Once we discovered this in the 1980s, the EPA officially banned it from all future building materials. For homes constructed before 1989, though, they weren’t able to retroactively enact this ruling.
How is it Dangerous?
In your siding, as it sits, asbestos isn’t all that harmful. It’s when the mineral becomes airborne that we have a problem. Specifically, we’re concerned about the material becoming friable when disturbed. Whether the siding is purposely removed, or broken by a natural occurrence, this crumbling state is what we’re trying to avoid. Because if you inhale too much asbestos, you could develop asbestosis, which is where the material creates scar tissue in your lungs, leading to chronic respiratory issues. They also may lead to cancer and/or mesothelioma (a very rare type of cancer specifically linked to asbestos exposure).
How do we Remove Asbestos Siding?
The short answer is, very carefully. In older homes, it’s one of the main reasons we recommend outsourcing your exterior renovations to a professional. Not only are we better equipped to handle this process, but we can also recognize this hazardous material faster. Although we don’t handle asbestos remediation at Schaefer Exteriors, we do wear all the proper safety equipment in case of exposure. If we suspect you have asbestos siding, we’ll help you get the material(s) tested and outsource the abatement before we come back to install your new siding. We never cut corners when it comes to safety, so you can trust that you won’t have any lingering dangers for your house and your family.
If your home was built or renovated within this key time frame, consider outsourcing your siding repairs and/or replacements to us! We can make sure there’s no asbestos present. But, if there is, we’ll help you take care of it as quickly as possible! Afterward, you can enjoy your new look (and your new siding) with the confidence that the property is asbestos-free. For more information regarding this topic, or your home’s exterior in general, please call Schaefer Exteriors today!