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Renovating Early 1970s house - Asbestos

Discussion in 'General DIY' started by Norton1982, 30 Nov 2013.

  1. Norton1982

    Norton1982

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    Hi,

    I've recently purchased a house believed to have been built in 1972 and I am in the process of renovating it.

    The bathroom ceiling is in poor condition due to a water leak when the cold water storage tank was being removed from the loft above before we moved in. It is artexed with a bobbly finish and having heard that older artex frequently contains asbestos I decided to get a sample of it tested. The ceiling in the bathroom looked by far the oldest and in the worst condition out of all in the house. We had a builder round for another reason and he considered that the ceiling was in such poor state it would need to come down rather than be skimmed.

    I got the results back today:

    "Our analyst and quality manager have informed us that although for sample 2 you stated Artex, they suspect that the textured coating was probably applied directly onto Asbestos Insulating Board due to the large quantities of Amosite fibres present within the sample. We would normally expect to find only Chrysotile fibres to be present within textured coating and in small quantities. Therefore we would just like to advise you to undertake further investigation into the material to clarify if AIB was actually present behind the textured coating. AIB is a licensable material and should therefore be removed under fully controlled conditions by an approved licenced removal contractor."

    This slightly freaked me out! Whilst I was expecting there may be asbestos, I was only expecting it to be white asbestos not brown and now i'm wondering if i have a much bigger problem than just some artex. I took the sample myself. All I actually included was the artex and the plaster attached to it; where it had dropped down from the water damage. Whatever material behind it was a light brown colour. I sealed the hole back up afterwards but it's not perfect.

    I am wondering two things now, was the light brown material visible behind the plaster i removed really AIB containing brown asbestos and does this then mean that every ceiling in the house may have this? Or could the previous owners have fitted something like asbestos roof tiles in the bathroom that at some point have been artexed over?

    I have contractors coming to put down new loft insulation in 15 days and before that I have to clear out the old insulation from the loft. If my ceilings have AIB do I infact need to reconsider doing this for the moment? And, is it likely to be safe to venture into the loft without full mask and suit etc?

    Also, knowing that the ceiling in the bathroom has recently been water damaged and a section has dropped and been sloppily replaced, should I be worrying about the fact that we could be getting exposed to the fibres during daily use?

    I believe that I should be looking for an asbestos surveyor to do further investigation but I don't know where to start with that, do council's Environment Health still get involved with asbestos?

    Does anybody have any advice or experience with this situation, I don't know if I'm over-reacting or not?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  3. footprints

    footprints

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    I don't think you are over reacting seems your approach is a sensible one. You had the sample tested and no doubt took care when taking the sample, so any disturbance has been minimal.
    I would certainly put the new insulation job on hold till you have had a proper inspection done.
    Some councils do free testing but most have dropped it to save money, worth ringing the Enviormental health dept to ask anyway first.

    Rather than searching for sampling companies on the web, go to either of these sites and find a company on their list near you.

    http://www.arca.org.uk/

    http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/managing/further.htm
    click on link half way down the page for Accredited testing laboratories.

    Hopefully some idiot just did a repair in the one room but you do need to get a test done on all your ceilings to really see the extent of the problem and indeed an opinion on any other places the surveyor thinks may be asbestos.

    Good luck with it and please let us know how you get on.

    Regards,
    footprints
     
  4. Norton1982

    Norton1982

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    Thanks footprints, yes I took care with PPE, water and plastic sheeting etc while sampling but it's still a worry. I'm waiting for the local EHO responsible for asbestos to call me back. Thanks for the info on ARCA and HSE websites, if there's no service from the local council I'll try them.

    I've got a sneaking suspicion that the two (labelled) samples I submitted for testing originally have been switched with each other somehow as one of the samples was actually from some insulation boards in the garage ceiling! That's the only way I've been able to reconcile the results in my mind so I'm avoiding disturbing both areas for the moment. A proper survey will clear that up for me and also highlight any other areas as you say. Hopefully I can get some proper tests done soon!
     
  5. zanzibar

    zanzibar

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    Swapping the two samples might just be about right, because the use of asbestos for garage construction was common place in the 50's, 60's and 70's you should definitely do nothing until a survey has been carried out and delay any further work including insulation.
     
  6. Norton1982

    Norton1982

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    Thanks both. I have now had contact with the local EHO and he has recommended a company that is due to attend tomorrow to do some testing. It seems most likely that the results were switched round from the initial testing, I am hoping that is the case as AIB in the garage is better than across the entire upstairs ceilings! I should know by Thursday.
     
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  8. zanzibar

    zanzibar

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    That's good news that you are getting it checked, keep us informed, would be surprised if your ceilings were lined with AIB, but anything can happen
     
  9. Norton1982

    Norton1982

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    The asbestos surveyor could not see anything suspicious in the loft and soffits or any sign of AIB in the ceilings in the upstairs so it looks like the house is in the clear. He's sampled the artex/textured coating on the ceilings to see if there's any in there, I should have the results today/tomorrow.

    I've got an integrated garage and its ceiling looks to be the culprit so the original samples must have been switched somehow as suspected. The surveyor believed just by looking at it that the boards are AIB and he agreed they were in poor condition and pointed out they were unsealed etc so recommended they get removed. He sampled the boards too to be sure.

    So it looks like I need to get some prices for the removal of around 15m sq of AIB! I hear it's expensive but I'm hoping it will not be too costly and beyond what I can afford... We got a sizeable discount due to general condition of the property when we bought but still I'm regretting not following up on my suspicions before buying; I guess you live and learn. I thought I'd covered myself by having a homebuyers survey completed in which they merely mentioned that a property of this age could contain asbestos; I knew that anyway.

    While it's not great news the garage ceiling is definitely the lesser of two evils! Sounds like a job for the new year if it's licenced and 14 days notice to HSE is required. If the results confirm which sounds a near certainty then I'd better start getting some quotes!
     
  10. Norton1982

    Norton1982

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    Asbestos removed, ceiling re-insulated and fire boarded and we even managed to recoup some of the cost from the surveyor albeit we had to go through the Property Ombudsman service! Thanks for the advice from everyone!
     
  11. footprints

    footprints

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    Thanks for the update, glad to hear you have got it sorted.
    Best wishes,
    footprints
     
  12. zanzibar

    zanzibar

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    Yes good news and pleased that you also managed to recoup some of your expense, the house will be all the better as well I imagine :D
     
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