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

Asbestos is linked to serious health problems, so it’s definitely not something you want to find in your home. It can be a common problem in older properties though. We look into what you can do about it and whether your home insurance will cover asbestos removal.

Asbestos is linked to serious health problems, so it’s definitely not something you want to find in your home. It can be a common problem in older properties though. We look into what you can do about it and whether your home insurance will cover asbestos removal.

Chris King
From the Home team
6
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 3 AUGUST 2021

What is asbestos? 

Asbestos is a collective name for minerals once widely used in the building trade. You can recognise asbestos from its thin, hair-like strands – these help it to bond to other materials and make it heat resistant.

The problem with asbestos is that when it breaks up or deteriorates, the strands are released into the air. If you breathe them in, 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 is widely used in countries like China and India.

Could there be asbestos in my house?

If your home was built in 2000 or later, then it won’t contain asbestos as it was banned in the UK in 1999. But if your home was built before then – and especially between the 1930s and 1980s, when asbestos was commonly used – it’s possible.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos can turn up both inside and outside the home. You can find it everywhere from pipe lagging in the loft to external window frames. Back in the sixties and seventies, it was often used for garage and shed roofs.

Is asbestos always dangerous?

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

What does asbestos look like?

Asbestos used to come in three colours – blue, brown and white. Blue and brown were used to strengthen building materials, like concrete. These two types of asbestos were also used as an adhesive, which is why you’ll sometimes find them under old floor tiles. Heat-resistant white asbestos was used to insulate boilers and heating pipes.

It can be hard to identify asbestos as it looks 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 where it is. You should keep an eye on it though, and if you have building or renovation work done, you’ll need to let your contractors know it’s there.

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, if necessary, remove the asbestos safely. You can find a professional through the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association, or contact your local council.

Is asbestos removal covered by home insurance?

Asbestos removal isn’t likely to be covered by your home insurance. It’s possible your insurance may pay out if the asbestos damage is caused by an event your policy covers, but you’ll need to check with your insurance provider.

Frequently asked questions

How can I dispose of asbestos?

Never throw asbestos in your household bin – it’s hazardous waste and legally needs to be disposed of as such. Contact your local council and see if you can arrange to have it collected. There may be a local facility where you can get rid of it.

Where might I find asbestos in my home?

If you live in an older property, there’s quite a few places you might find asbestos. These include:

  • Artex ceilings – you might remember those textured ceilings that were popular back in the seventies and eighties
  • thermal insulation on pipes and hot-water tanks
  • loose-fill roof insulation
  • in the toilet seat or cistern
  • vinyl floor tiles
  • inside partition walls

My house has asbestos. Can I sell it?

If you know about the asbestos and how much it would cost to remove, then it’s dishonest not to inform the buyer. You may find it’s less hassle to be open about it anyway – chances are, it will show up in the survey, and you don’t want your buyer to pull out further down the line.

One solution could be to discount the sale price by the amount it will cost to have the asbestos removed.

Is it illegal to sell a house with asbestos?

It’s not illegal to sell a house with asbestos, but you should tell your buyer or you might be accused of withholding information.

Can I remove asbestos myself?

Public Health England recommends that you definitely don’t try to remove asbestos yourself. You should also be careful if you’re doing DIY work in older properties, as you may inadvertently come across asbestos and break it up without knowing.

Compare home insurance

Get a quote in minutes and see if you can save

Get a quote
Get a quote in minutes and you could start saving Compare home insurance