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Asbestos

This page offers information about asbestos removal and what to do if you think that your home may contain asbestos.

If your property is more than 15 years old, it's possible that it contains materials made from asbestos. If you're unsure whether your home has asbestos, we recommend leaving it alone and seeking expert help. This information is aimed at householders. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has asbestos information which is more appropriate for businesses.

Asbestos in the home

Common locations of asbestos:

  • asbestos cement on garage or shed roofs
  • asbestos cement shed and garage wall panels
  • asbestos cement drain pipes
  • asbestos cement or insulation board soffit, infill panels and partitions
  • asbestos cement on the side of bath panels.

If your home is rented, your landlord may have information about the property and any asbestos it may have.

If your home has asbestos, the general rule is to always leave it alone. It's usually safe, unless it's damaged or disturbed. You may also consider painting indoor asbestos materials with an alkali resistant paint such as PVA emulsion. 

You must never sand, drill or saw asbestos materials. Always seek advice before thinking of removing asbestos and follow the basic rules below if carrying out asbestos cement removal work. Do not attempt to remove asbestos lagging, spray coatings or large areas of Insulation Board by yourself as these materials can only be safely removed by a licensed contractor. Sometimes it will be necessary to take a sample, for example to identify the type of asbestos.

Safe asbestos cement removal

Asbestos cement can be safely removed by remembering these basic rules - you should:

  • prepare the work area by removing any unnecessary items, cover the floor and surfaces with disposable polythene sheeting
  • wear protective clothing: disposable overall with hood, disposable paper face mask (for use with asbestos) and rubber or disposable gloves
  • damp down areas using a plant sprayer or hosepipe, but don't soak the area as this will make cleaning up more difficult
  • remove the asbestos without breaking it up, wrap it in polythene sheeting or bags and seal with tape
  • visually inspect the area and clear up any debris by hand by wiping down with disposable damp cloths. Never use a vacuum cleaner as this will spread dust around
  • pick up polythene sheeting and remove protective clothing and dispose of both as asbestos waste.
  • wash your hands and face after the job is completed.

Disposing asbestos waste

You will need to contact a specialist contractor to dispose of asbestos. Try the Yellow Pages website for local specialists or contact the Health and Safety Executive for further advice.

Asbestos do's and don'ts:

  • Do seek advice if you think you've got a problem with asbestos in your home
  • Do treat asbestos with respect
  • Don't panic if you think you have asbestos in your home - it's usually only a problem if it's disturbed
  • Don't drill, saw or disturb materials that contain asbestos.