If your home was built before the 1960s there’s a good chance you have asbestos siding. Asbestos increased durability and longevity in building materials, but it's also associated with serious health risks. With a little determination and planning, however, you can remove asbestos on your own.
Step 1 - Get a Permit for Removal
The first thing you need to do is check your local laws when it comes to asbestos removal. More often than not, you will need to obtain a permit, which your local permit office should supply. If they cannot issue a license, they should know how to get one.
Step 2 - Take Proper Precautions
With a permit in hand, it’s a good idea to post signs that warn family and friends of the potential hazards during the removal process. Then, lay plastic sheeting under the side of the house where the siding will be removed. Try to work in the shade to keep the water from drying too fast.
Step 3 - Wear Safety Gear
Before you start tearing things down, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper safety gear. This includes a pair of disposable coveralls, gloves, boots, filtered respirators, and goggles. It’s recommended that you use a respirator with a HEPA filter, especially if the siding is in bad condition and likely to break down.
Step 4 - Drench the Siding With a Garden Hose
Start the tear down process by saturating the siding with water via a garden hose. The moisture will help keep the asbestos particles from getting airborne and creating a health hazard. Then, mix a portion of dishwashing detergent and water in a spray bottle. You’ll use this once you start breaking off pieces of siding.
Step 5 - Remove Nails
Before the siding dries, start removing nails by pulling them out or cutting the heads. This will help prevent breaking the siding and releasing asbestos dust. If the siding starts to crumble on its own, spray it with your detergent mixture. Spray the back of each piece once it's removed and carefully place it on the plastic sheet. Periodically spray the removed pieces with water.
Step 6 - Place the Siding in Plastic Containers
Once a section is done, double the plastic up and place the siding in containers. The containers should be specifically made for asbestos waste and properly marked. Tie off the tops of each container and seal them with duct tape. If no warning is written on the bag, attach an asbestos warning label to the outside.
Step 7 - Keep the Siding Moist
Repeat the process to every area of the exterior that needs asbestos removal. Make sure to follow all of the safety precautions and avoid handling broken pieces without proper safety equipment. If you have to work in the sun, ensure that the siding is kept moist throughout the removal process.
Step 8 - Remove Debris
After the siding has been removed, it’s time to start the clean up process. Hit the area next to the siding with another layer of water and start to roll up any remaining plastic sheets. Place these sheets into a special container and mark it just like you did with the asbestos removal. These should be handled the same as the asbestos siding.
Step 9 - Remove Safety Gear in Ventilated Area
With everything cleaned up, remove your safety clothing in a well ventilated area. Place these clothing items in double wrapped plastic bags and asbestos removal containers. Tightly seal the bags and use duct tape where necessary. Avoid vacuuming any of the materials as this increases the chances of the asbestos particles going airborne.
The only way to determine if your siding contains asbestos is to get it tested in a lab. Even if you discover asbestos in the siding, it does not pose a health risk unless the fibers are broken and airborne. You can also replace portions of your siding that are chipped instead of tearing it all down. There are companies that make siding to match existing colors and design. Further, it's important to use hard containers for the asbestos as the siding can easily puncture plastic bags. If the bags have been punctured, many waste disposal sites will not accept the materials.