your question is best answered by an asbestos professional, here is a good resource
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Flavio Tejada, Owner/Broker, Realtor, MBA-Finance
"How do you know if your ceiling has asbestos?"
"If I have "popcorn ceiling" does that mean I have asbestos?"
Most homes built before 1978 will contain asbestos materials in varying percentage levels both inside and outside the structure. Confirmation and percentage level of asbestos can only be assured via sample testing. http://www.kellco.com is a lab clients of mine used to do asbestos testing in Hayward (I'm sure you can find one closer to your location). They drove a sample to the lab and received the results in less than 3 hours; charge was $35. Test results showed a 2% asbestos concentration.
"Is it necessary to remove or can I live with it?"
I suppose this depends on how risk averse you are. The primary concern is when the asbestos becomes airborne. The first "line of defense" is to encapsulate the asbestos. Many homeowners choose to paint their "popcorn" ceilings. If this is a viable option for you I would suggest the use of a paint sprayer as opposed to a brush or roller that might agitate and/or release asbestos fibers. Additionally, over saturation of the ceiling by brush or roller may cause the "popcorn" to fall off the ceiling. If you are not a do-it-yourself painter I'm sure you can find a contractor willing to help.
"Is this something I can do myself or should I hire a professional?"
Well, there's no law preventing an owner from removing asbestos themselves that I am aware of (the homeowner must still follow the Rules & Regulations of the Dept. of Environmental Quality for disposal); however, there is legal exposure of not disposing of asbestos properly. The more important consideration is your own asbestos exposure while doing so, which I, and Iâ€™m betting all who respond to your question, will personally feel is not at all worth it. However, be aware that removal is costly and often seen as the solution of last resort. Here's a link for finding certified professionals to remove the "popcorn": http://www.dir.ca.gov/databases/doshacru/acruList.asp
Here a few more informational links:
The government has some great information on the issue, it's actually pretty serious and if you think you might have it, you may want to consult a professional!
In fact, when asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition activities, microscopic fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems.
Here is some information on how to find state and regional asbestos contacts:
I hope that helps!
Ali, Community Manager
I'd suggest you ask a painting contractor or an asbestos abatement company.
It is best to have a specialist trained in asbestos removal do the necessary work to test and quote a price. That kind of removal is only for qualified people due to the amount and fragmented nature of asbestos. It only takes one fiber inhaled and lodge in your lungs to create mesothelioma.
Hammerhouse Construction, Inc
415 516 7399
I don't believe it's absolutely necessary to remove...you still see many homes with it still intact. Many people of had it scraped off for cosmetic reasons (myself included). There are people who will take it off for approximately $1 per square foot...just look in the services section of Craigslist. I definitely suggest hiring someone who has experience doing this - it will affect the appearance of your home.
Trulia asked me to add my professional opinion.
I am a home remodeling contractor and my advice is to have a professional look at it.
If it is intact it is not a serious issue, as soon as it is disturbed it may become air born and that is when you can breath it in.
Age of the home is a good hint, pre 78 = high risk.
An Abatement contractor may not be as expensive as you think, good luck,
Licensed General Contractor,
(415) 640 1148
Age of home will have a lot to do with it.
You can look it up online and find out when popcorn acoustic ceilings used asbestos.
Bottom line it gets spendy. It may be wise to have a professional look at it. If you do research the professional and MAKE SURE THEY HAVE WORK COMP THAT COVERS ASBESTOS!!! If it is peeling you may have to do something with it. If not you may be able to wait. If you or people who stay in your home have allergies, or breathing issues,... you may want to get them out of there until it is done and over with.
If you do see the pros in action it will look something like a HAZMAT party.
Harold Sharpe - Broker
So Cal Homes
California Department of Real Estate Broker License # 01312992
Will it hurt you? Not if it is not disturbed. It is the dust or powder that harms you. If it is not disturbed it is what is termed "encapsulated"
What to do? Send it to an environmental lab for testing. Once they receive it it is usually a 2 or 3 day turn around to get it back. The cost is, typically, in the SF bay area, about $35 or a little more.
If it comes back positive, meaning it has asbestos, it will say a percentage. If the percentage is low that is better. There are self test kits but i have been of the opinion that it is better professionally done. Just ask the lab how much they need and how to get it. Typically a quarter size amount is plenty. They may want it from two areas. The lab we use is:
Asbestos Control Center
32 Hamilton Drive, Suite A
Novato, CA 94949
Toll Free: 800-499-7856
How to remove it if it has asbestos. Have a licensed contractor remove it. There are contractors and that is all they do. The problem is it can cost about or up to $3 a square foot. That adds up. It is a good idea to get more then one quote.
They way it is removed is to get plastic sheeting and drape it over everything from the ceiling down taping continuously to the top of the walls and laying it out on the floor. 2 mil on walls and 4 mil on floors works well. Then you get a garden sprayer and start to soak it, keeping it wet for a few minutes and start to scrape it. If it has been painted it may take a long time and much more work. Before you do this make sure you have a proper respirator, a Tyvek suit & helmet and over shoes (purchased from a professional hardware store, call first), gloves and safety goggles. You can scrape it with a 6 inch putty knife into a dustpan or something or use two layers of plastic on the floor so you can scrape it and it falls directly to the floor. Then you pick it up in the top layer of plastic and roll it up. tape this completely and call your local waste management to see where it can be taken. This is something some people choose to do themselves, but if you can afford it it is better to hire some one that you check references on first. Good luck,
Still. This doesn't mean that you should have it lining your air ducts or hanging from your ceiling. Popcorn ceilings can be spray-painted, they can be covered with drywall, and there is a safe method for scraping them off.
Lead and carbon monoxide are much more hazardous to home dwellers than asbestos.
Thank you, Steve & Allison, for the links!
The stuff in your ceiling might have asbestos as part of its materials. Asbestos was used extensively in construction up till the time when it was banned. The problems for humans are when the asbestos is broken up and particles become airborne. If we breathe it in it stays in the lungs and can cause cancers to form. It also is damaging to the lining of the lungs.
When it is removed is usually wetted so that it can't become airborne. When an abatement company removes it they will set up a perimeter of plastic sheeting and a negative airflow that is filtered to capture any materials that do become airborne.
Asbestos can be found in the tape used in sheetrock, the wrappings of furnace ductwork, exterior sheathing, roofing materials, and the notorious "popcorn" high texture ceiling surfacing.