Do these look like Asbestos Ducts?

Old 07-22-15, 02:14 PM
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Do these look like Asbestos Ducts?

I had a home inspection and was told the ducts 'Might' contain asbestos. Not very helpful. Anyway, my gut says foil wrapped fiberglass with carboard tubing based upon how they feel. The house was built in 1972 and I'm in Southern California. Thanks for your help.Name:  IMG_0271s.jpg
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Old 07-22-15, 02:52 PM
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The home inspector was just covering his rear. Asbestos as a hazardous material was starting to be restricted for use in residential housing during the 1970s so it is possible that your home has some asbestos in it somewhere. However, I agree with you that the exposed insulation is fiberglass and the outer covering is a reinforced aluminized paper product. I highly doubt the inner duct itself is paper, though.

Now here is the REAL problem. Anytime a material is PRESUMED to contain asbestos the rule is that it DOES contain asbestos until PROVEN otherwise by laboratory testing. It must be treated as if it is an asbestos containing material (ACM) which means that you may not disturb it, including removal, unless you do so in a manner approved for working with ACM until such time as laboratory testing conforms no presence of asbestos.

Now I personally do not believe that asbestos is the horrible killer that it is made out to be. I worked in power plants, ones with piping insulated with ACMs, for the majority of my career and I have NO signs of any asbestos caused diseases. (Yes, I have been tested several times and the most recent was about six months ago.) Do NOT misunderstand me, I am not stating that asbestos is without hazard, the material IS dangerous to a person's health UNDER SPECIFIC CONDITIONS. The truth is that the vast majority of people will have more exposure to asbestos merely driving down the freeway/turnpike (from asbestos released from the application of vehicle brakes) than they will from anything in their homes. Most asbestos in homes is bound up to the point it is a minimal hazard.

Some of the places that asbestos may be found in homes is certain drywall and drywall compounds as well as certain floor coverings or their adhesives. These are generally NOT a problem UNLESS the material is abraded or otherwise broken allowing fibers to become airborne. Older homes may have ACMs on heating pipes or ducts and the same rules need to be followed, do NOT disturb the material in a manner that will cause it to break and release fibers to the atmosphere and you will be okay. If you DO need to work on these ACMs then you should, of course, follow prescribed measures to contain any dust.

One bit of anecdotal information...while I have known people who have contracted or succumbed to asbestos related diseases ALL of them had been smokers. I have known many other that worked alongside these people that were not smokers and none of them contracted any asbestos related disease. From this purely non-scientific survey it appears that smoking is a catalyst when working with or around asbestos causing the health problems in later life.

Just my opinion.
Old 07-22-15, 03:46 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Hi Aaron and welcome to the forum.
If you are in the process of buying or selling the parties involved will probably need some testing or inspection by a qualified person who can state in writing it is not asbestos. As Furd said, once it is on the table as a concern the only way to get it off the table is laboratory testing, which really isn't that bad. The qualified people are usually the asbestos abatement companies, just be careful they don't sell you a package that is not needed.


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