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I think there might be asbestos in my home. What should I do?

I think there might be asbestos in my home. What should I do?

With its link to serious health problems, finding asbestos in your home can be worrying. We look into what should you do about it and whether asbestos removal is covered by home insurance. 

Chris King
From the Home team
minute read
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Posted 2 SEPTEMBER 2019

What is asbestos? 

Asbestos is a collective name for minerals that were widely used in the building trade. It has thin, hair-like strands which help it to bond to other materials and make it heat resistant.  
The problem with asbestos is that when it deteriorates or is broken up, the strands are released into the air. If they’re breathed in in high levels, they can cause serious conditions like non-malignant pleural disease, asbestosis, lung cancer and Mesothelioma – another type of cancer. 
Asbestos is banned in the UK, but it’s still mined in Russia and widely used in countries including China and India.

Could there be asbestos in my house? 

If your home was built from 2000 onwards, it won’t contain asbestos as it was banned as a building material in the UK in 1999. But if your home was built before then – especially between the 1930s and 1980s when asbestos was commonly used – it’s possible.  
According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos can be found both inside and outside the house, from pipe lagging in the loft to external window frames. It was also often used for garage and shed roofs. 

Is asbestos always dangerous?

Asbestos isn’t dangerous if it’s in good condition. But if asbestos ages or is broken down – for example, in home renovations or when a building is demolished – it becomes hazardous. 

What does asbestos look like?

Asbestos came in three colours – blue, brown and white. Blue and brown were used to strengthen building materials, such as concrete, and were also used as an adhesive, so can often be found under old floor tiles. Heat-resistant white asbestos was used to insulate boilers and heating pipes.  
It can be difficult to identify asbestos as it can look similar to other building materials. If in doubt, call in a professional.

Does asbestos always need to be removed? 

If the asbestos is in good condition and in a place where it’s not likely to be damaged, it can be safer to leave it as it is. You’ll need to check it periodically, though, and you’ll also need to inform anyone working on your home about it if you’re having renovation work done. 

Who do I contact to get rid of asbestos?  

You’ll need to contact a licensed contractor who can carry out a risk assessment and remove the asbestos safely, if necessary. You can find a professional through the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association or contact your local council.

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Is asbestos removal covered by home insurance?

It’s unlikely that asbestos removal will be covered by your home insurance. It’s possible that your insurance may pay out if damage to the asbestos is caused by an incident covered by your home insurance policy, but this may vary so you’ll need to check with your provider.

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