How Do I Know If There Is Asbestos in My House?

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used for insulation and building in the early to mid-1900s. It was later found to cause cancers and other health issues. Contract companies work to remove asbestos from older houses, and all new houses are built without using asbestos.

Asbestos can cause cancer if inhaled
  1. Research your house to find out when it was built. If it was built in the early to mid-1900s, then it may have asbestos. Research will also tell you what improvements have been made to the house and if improvements included new insulation or asbestos removal.

  2. Talk to the previous owner or to your real estate agent to determine whether the house has been upgraded in the past decade. Most home improvement projects will also include asbestos removal, so you may want to contact former contractors who worked on the house as well.

  3. Investigate your house. If this is a house that you recently purchased, find out its secrets by doing a thorough search of all areas of the house. Asbestos is found in attics, in crawl spaces and around pipes for insulation. If insulation looks old or is degraded in any way, it could be asbestos, and you should pursue options to remove it. Asbestos is a fibrous material that can range from beige to gray and slightly orange. Do not touch asbestos, or if you must, wear gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.

  4. Hire a contractor. If the house needs repair work, you may want to have a consultation with a contractor, who can tell you with more certainty whether an area of the house contains asbestos. In most cases, asbestos is labeled. The only sure way to know if a material is asbestos is to view it under a microscope.

About the Author

Rachel Terry Swick graduated in 2004. Since then, Swick has worked as a reporter for both daily newspapers and weeklies. She currently works as a senior reporter for the Sussex Countian in Georgetown, Del. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from Millersville University in Pa.