Asbestos ceiling tiles were a common building material of the 60s and 70s. However, asbestos and its fibers have more recently been linked to lung cancer and other pulmonary diseases caused by inhaling the fibers. Many who were exposed to asbestos, during fitting or in subsequent removal, have gone on to develop carcinomas and serious illnesses. Read on to learn how to identify and locate this potentially dangerous material and how to remove it safely.
If you live in a house built before the end of the 1970s that features an acoustic or drop-down ceiling, you may have asbestos in your home. The product is only dangerous once the fibers are free, which can occur when tiles are removed. Once asbestos is found in your ceiling, the material needs to be removed using building code guidelines.
Before beginning any asbestos removal project, you'll need proper clothing and accessories. To protect your person, you'll need to wear coveralls specially designed for asbestos removal, along with safety glasses and gloves, and a Respirator with a HEPA filter to prevent inhalation of loose fibers. To keep the room or rooms you're working in free of fibers, place drop cloths on the floor and over furniture. Keep it secure with duct tape. Use asbestos-specific bags to dispose of the tiles.
Step 1 - Turn Off the AC
Before you remove any of the tiles, turn off any air conditioning and heating units, even ceiling fans. These units circulate air, which will cause any fibers loosened during removal to travel throughout the room and into the air conditioning vents, putting you at risk of inhaling these fibers long after asbestos tiles have been removed.
Step 2 - Soak the Tiles
Once all preparations are complete, soak the tiles by mixing a small amount of detergent into a gallon or so of water. Using a spray bottle, soak the ceiling tiles. This detergent and water combination will help to form an adhesive, which will keep the asbestos fibers in place even if the tiles are damaged.
Step 3 - Remove the Tiles
Begin removing the tiles carefully, ensuring that your respirator is never directly underneath the tile you are moving. You will have to be sure not to break, tear, or otherwise damage the tile, as this will cause the asbestos fibers to become loose, and then airborne. Once each tile is fully removed, place them into asbestos-specific disposable bags. Do not drop the tiles into the bags as this can dislodge asbestos fibers. Place them inside the bags carefully. When the bag is full, seal the end with duct tape. Vacuum the room and empty the contents into an asbestos bag and seal.
Tip: Prior to removing asbestos tiles, contact the building code department for your city or county to find out what rules are in place for removal and/or disposal of asbestos tiles.