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Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate? Removal Complete!

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Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate? Removal Complete!

Postby Verve » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:29 am

We've got a basement full of asbestos covered boiler pipes, some in good condition, others not so good. We've got estimates for both removal and encapsulation and we're willing to pay for whatever makes the most sense. However, I don't want to remove it just for the sake of getting it out of there if it is providing superior insulation to our heating pipes. Does anyone know if the asbestos does a way better job of keeping the heat in the pipes than anything else that is available now to recover them with if we have it removed? Our basement is already rather warm in the winter and I don't want to it to be stifling down there and the upstairs freezing because we made the wrong decision. Please share your experience if you've been in the same situation :D
Last edited by Verve on Tue May 24, 2011 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby Eden » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:54 am

I want to know this too. The sellers of the farm I'm buying had it re-encapsulated after I voiced concern. I had asked my agent to tell them I'd pay the difference to have it removed, but my agent said around there, people just removed it and took it to the dump? He has a contractor that said he'd wet it down and remove it for $750.00 and I had heard it cost thousands. I thought I also heard/read that even the homeowner had to be certified to do his own.

I wish Lurrrker girl (sp?) was still around, she'd set this straight...

This is what I read, can't remember the source:

The hardest part of asbestos removal is making sure the particles stay out of the air. Different asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) are removed by different methods, but the one thing they have in common is to avoid filling the air with the kind of dust that's taken for granted in other demolition or renovation projects. The most general method that works well for asbestos is moisture. Though fibers do not dissolve in water, it does stick to them enough to make them settle quickly to the floor with the other components of their matrix.

and because

Exposure to asbestos has proven to result in a wide range of health conditions, including mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. This rare form of cancer is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure.

Due to a long latency period, mesothelioma symptoms (shortness of breath, severe cough, chest pain) may not appear for 20 or more years. For this reason, mesothelioma is often diagnosed in later stages of development, which severely complicates treatment and chances of survival.

I may hire him later to take up the tiles in the house that the inspector suspects may have asbestos in them, but tiles usually have a very small amount.

Am I paranoid or what, LOL.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby Verve » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:07 am

Our guy has given us a few options.

1- Have it removed and the basement cleaned. - expensive
2-Have it encapsulated and the basement cleaned. - expensive
3-We encapsulate it with pipe wrap and duct tape and then have him come in and clean the basement of any contamination. - not so expensive

I'm not afraid of it still being on the pipes as long as it is enact and encapsulated and we've had the basement rid of any asbestos dust and whatnot (they come in and plastic off the basement and put it under negative pressure, clean all surfaces and then test to make sure its gone). What I don't want to do is to remove all of it and then not be able to replace the insulation on the pipes with anything remotely as efficient as the asbestos wrap.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby HydePark » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:16 pm

I did asbestos building inspections and monitored fairly large asbestos removal projects for a consulting company for a few years, so I have some idea of what I'm talking about here.

Eden wrote:He has a contractor that said he'd wet it down and remove it for $750.00 and I had heard it cost thousands.

WOW, don't do that! That price is waaaay too low. As Verve says in the post below yours, the only proper way to remove asbestos insulation* is to build an airtight enclosure of poly and adhesive/duct tape and with proper anteroom, wet the insulation down as it is removed, use a proper bagout procedure, encapsulate all exposed surfaces, and perform clearance air monitoring before taking down the containment. For $750, that guy is going to do about one and a half of those things, and you'll be left with a far worse situation, a basement full of unbound asbestos fibers that will become airborne every time you have a draft or move things around.

* another way that can be used for smaller sections is a glovebag that basically contains all of the above in a small temporary containment (still not happening properly for $750):

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Eden wrote:tiles usually have a very small amount.

Although that's usually true, some floor tiles can have as much as 30-40% asbestos, especially the old 9"x9" tiles. The mastic gluing them down can also be positive for asbestos, most likely if it's black. However, floor tiles and mastic are less likely to produce airborne fibers when removed unless they're really crumbling or unless totally dry methods are used. Honestly I'd be fine with removing these on my own if they were in my house, but that's me.

Verve, I don't know for sure about the efficiency question, but I suspect that (a) the asbestos is significantly more efficient than fiberglass or anything else you can get for whatever money you're left with after the removal :wink: , and (b) that you probably won't find reputable verification of that anywhere because asbestos has been so demonized. Other than the airborne fibers causing cancer, it's actually great stuff. If it's in good condition or can be properly encapsulated, there's nothing better. It's strong, it's fireproof and has great insulating properties - that's why it was mixed into pretty much everything that it could be at one time. That said, though, you probably need to weigh the factor of your home's resale value as well. Asbestos insulation, even in great condition and properly encapsulated, is going to be a major turnoff for most people.
Last edited by HydePark on Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby HydePark » Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:21 pm

Verve wrote:Our guy has given us a few options...

3-We encapsulate it with pipe wrap and duct tape and then have him come in and clean the basement of any contamination. - not so expensive

I'm not so sure that's a good idea. Maybe if the basement is completely empty, but not if it's full of stuff for the fibers to settle onto and into. You said that some of your insulation is in "not so good" condition - that means that it will release fibers as you wrap it. You'll need a hooded, footed, Tyvek suit and a P100 respirator (which you'll need to be fit tested for) in order for this to be safe for you to do, and you'll have to bag up the Tyvek suit(s) for disposal. Otherwise you can bring the fibers into your house/vehicle on your clothes and in your hair.

Sorry for being long-winded!
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby angolito » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:39 am

we did exactly what eden said, wet ours down and triple bagged it. this was five years ago, but still perfectly allowable here. we did it ourselves wearing masks and jumpsuits. our basement and craw space are dirt floored.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby Verve » Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:42 am

Just for reference for anyone that cares. We have an 1800 sq ft basement with mostly all boiler pipes covered in asbestos. The quote we got for removal and cleanup was for around $6500. Professional encapsulation and cleanup is right around the same price.

Thank you HydePark for the unbiased professional opinion! The basement is for the most part empty and anything that is down there will be removed by the cleanup crew or otherwise cleaned.

I think we are leaning toward encapsulating it ourselves by taking all precautions and then having the area professionally decontaminated. We really don't want to lose the benefit of its insulating properties. We haven't completely decided but thats what we're thinking so I'd still like to hear opinions and experience.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby Vaso7 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:09 am

The advice that I got from a few different plumbers, the energy audit and the insulation guy was to encapsulate them. My basement is vast and cold and there are A LOT of pipes some of which run in the perimeter of the basement were it is even colder. However, the pipes were in a very good condition with the original wrap intact and no visible crumbling.
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby Texas_Ranger » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:54 pm

I'd remove it if you can, for one simple reason. If you ever get a leak or have to work on the pipes for any other reason you'd need to pay again, so actually you'd pay twice!
I guess it depends on the price of the removal if you want to take that risk (and on the price difference)
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Re: Asbestos - Remove or encapsulate?

Postby Verve » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:32 am

An update. Upon further inspection (removing plastic from several pipes that had been wrapped) we've come to the conclusion that more of the asbestos is in worse shape that we thought so we're gong to have it all professionally removed. Not the option I wanted to have to do but it really makes the most sense and then it'll be gone and done with and if we ever have to sell it won't be an issue. Now I need some suggestions on re-insulating the steam boiler pipes. :D
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