Dealing with Asbestos

Dealing With Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral woven into fibers that was used extensively in construction prior to around 1985. It was often used in attic insulation. If your home was built before that time, there is a decent chance you have some lurking in your attic. Ironically, most countries in the industrialized world banned it long ago, but Canada was a holdout until the last two mines were closed by the Provincial Government of Quebec in 2012.

IS IT DANGEROUS?

It is if it’s disturbed! When disturbed, it produces microscopic fibers that are proven to cause cancer. If left alone it won’t pose any health risks. What does “asbestos” look like? Well, it all starts with these six fibrous mineral ores: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite-asbestos, actinolite-asbestos, & anthophyllite-asbestos.

asbestos

If your roofer contractor informs you that you have asbestos in your attic, think of it as an opportune time to remove it. If you decide to remove it yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Protect yourself. Wear disposable oversized coveralls, a respirator with a P3 filter, disposable goggles, preferably boots without laces and disposable gloves. When you have completed the removal, you should dispose of all of your protective items along with the  waste. Your boots and goggles of course can be cleaned, but if your boots have laces toss them as well.

2. Work smart by working in a well-ventilated area if possible. If at all possible, remove the asbestos intact or in large pieces. Remember disturbance is what leads to the creation of microscopic fibers. Consider this aspect when you are selecting tools as well. It is often helpful to spray down an area with water to keep the dust down.

3. Protect others by ensuring proper disposal. All asbestos waste must be double bagged and identified at the waste disposal site. Make sure you include your coveralls and all of the equipment you wore while cleaning in with the double bagged waste. Do not put your waste out with your regular garbage as you will be risking someone else’s health.

4. Take a long soapy shower when you return home to ensure you get rid of any lingering dust.

If the process outlined above seems daunting, there are professional asbestos removal companies that will come to your rescue. Ask your roofer for a referral.

Image courtesy of Asbestorama via Flickr – Creative Commons License

Dealing with Mold

Dealing with Mold

WHAT IS MOLD?

Mold is a naturally occurring fungus that inhabits virtually every corner of our environment. You will encounter mold every day of your life. The vast majority of those instances will not cause you any problem. Problems arise when it becomes concentrated and/or when one is allergic to mold. IF YOU SEE IT, DEAL WITH IT!

HOW DO I FIND IT?

Mold gives off a musty smell and it appears as black or dark spots or stained areas that don’t belong on whatever you are inspecting. A careful visual inspection will normally detect mold if it is present, although there are times when it can be hidden from view. Mold prospers in warm damp places. Anywhere water exists mold can exist. It is most commonly found around windows, in bathrooms, crawlspaces, basements, under carpets and you guessed – in attics. As you can imagine, an unchecked leaky roof can lead to a massive mold problem. Whenever you inspect your attic, mold should be one of the key problems for which you should be checking.

CAN MOLD MAKE ME SICK?

Most people can tolerate small amounts of mold, however if its growth explodes, it can cause acute symptoms in those exposed. It produces toxic substances and mold allergy is one of the most common allergies, and even if you are not currently allergic, allergies can develop over time.

HOW DO I GET RID OF IT?

The best defense against mold is to keep everything dry. If you have small amounts of mold it can be cleaned with a mild (10%) bleach solution. There are many products on the market specifically made to clean mold, but bleach works well and you probably have it on hand. If it’s dry you could spray it down to prevent the spores from becoming airborne. Safety first, so you should always wear, at minimum a dust mask, a Niosh approved N-95 mask is better. They are sold at hardware stores often for less than 20 dollars. Once you have cleaned it thoroughly you need to dry the area completely to prevent the molds return. Make sure to check periodically to make sure it is gone for good.

Large mold problems are much more difficult and expensive to fix. This is why it is important to discover problems early and nip them in the bud. Extreme cases of mold can necessitate removal and replacement of your attic insulation, ceilings, and even your roof sheeting and joists.

Tackling large problems yourself is a bad idea! You could easily disturb the spores and fill your home with countless microscopic spores that can compromise your family’s health. Large scale mold problems require specialized equipment and knowledge. Though we see mold problems from time to time, we claim no expertise in this area. Do your research and find a qualified professional to deal with your large mold problem immediately. Your health is literally at stake!

 

Second image courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI via Flickr – Creative Commons License