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One issue electricians can encounter on the job is homeowners unknowingly living with asbestos in their home. Homes built as late as 1990 may have asbestos hiding behind the walls and in the ceiling.

Since these areas are rarely examined, you might never know it’s there. Not until you have an electrical problem or begin renovations and hire an electrician, whose job it is to investigate these areas.

In the past, insulation for electrical wiring contained asbestos materials and it’s not uncommon for an electrician to uncover asbestos while working on a project. Some places it may be found is in:

  • Cement and plaster
  • Insulation
  • House siding
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Furnaces and heating systems

The good news is that finding asbestos often doesn’t require the whole electrical project to be called off. After reading this blog, you’ll understand Western Integrated Home’s careful process for handling any asbestos found in your home.

Also read: Hiring an Electrician? Here’s What to Look For

What Happens When Our Electricians Find Asbestos

At Western Integrated Home, we understand the serious nature of asbestos, and treat its handling and disposing accordingly.

When we approach older homes, communication with you, the homeowner, is important. If you’re already aware of asbestos hazards, you can let us know, and we’ll continue to work with the right protocols in place. Conversely, we may identify hazardous materials during our safety inspection prior to starting work, which we’ll inform you of immediately.

If, for example, we begin work on a project, open a receptacle hole in the wall and find asbestos, our electrician would stop work immediately. They would make sure not to disturb the material and then notify you.

While speaking with you, the electrician would offer their opinion about whether the contracted work could be safely completed. Until you decide how you would want to move forward, we would leave the material undisturbed until safety measures to work within and around the hazard are in place.

Ultimately, you could ask us to leave the asbestos be, which is a valid solution if the costs of removal are too high, or other circumstances prevent you from removing it at the time. But if you wanted us to press on with the work, we would fully implement all required safety measures.

Our electricians are trained to safely handle and dispose of small amounts of asbestos when working with holes measuring less than two feet, usually to accommodate the installation of fixtures, switches and receptacles. While wearing full body personal protective equipment (PPE), we take steps such as cutting holes with hand tools while running a vacuum simultaneously, laying out catchall and divider tarps, and safely disposing of the dust.

If the project requires substantial work in the area we found the asbestos, you would have the option of hiring a subcontractor responsible for safe asbestos removal and disposal.

If you live in a strata, we highly recommend checking with the strata council to get information about any policies and procedures they may already have in place.

Read more: Get to Know Our Electrician, Steve Pallot

What to Do if You’re Concerned About Asbestos in Your Home

If your home is more than 25 years old, you probably already know if there’s asbestos. You were likely either told by another tradesperson, during a home inspection, or were informed at the time of purchase. However, if you’re not sure whether there’s asbestos in your home, there are specialists who will take material samples and tell you exactly what’s behind your walls. Having this done ahead of time will save you time and money when hiring tradespersons.

If your home was built prior to 1990 and you need work done that requires access behind the walls or ceiling, make sure that any contractor you hire applies safe asbestos handling protocols to keep everyone involved safe from any possible exposure. Remember, there are no safe exposure levels when it comes to asbestos.

Final Thoughts

Don’t panic if an electrician finds asbestos in your home. There are no significant health risks so long as materials containing asbestos are in good condition, sealed behind walls, and left undisturbed. So long as they are promptly and safely disposed of after being discovered, there is little to worry about.

If there are small amounts of asbestos, we are trained to handle and dispose of it safely. Otherwise we will support you in finding a subcontractor to take care of the problem. Whatever the case, our electricians at Western Integrated Home are happy to provide guidance throughout the process.