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fw2007 03-12-2008 03:48 PM

Asbestos concern when wiring old house
I am doing some re-wiring in my 80 year old house. Looking around, see a white material covering some of the hot water heating pipes, and believe that given the age of the house, it probably contains asbestos.
I have not attempted to remove any of the material.

Since wiring requires disturbing spaces that have been closed up for a very long time, I'm concerned that I may expose myself to asbestos.
Would you be concerned while wiring in the vicinity of such material that brushing a cable past the pipe wrapping might liberate enough asbestos to cause a health risk?

Thanks for your opinion / suggestions.


Speedy Petey 03-12-2008 03:57 PM

Maybe if you do it every day all day. Doing one job every now and then will pose no lasting health risk.....IMO.

If it concerns you wear a respirator when you are near the stuff.

fw2007 03-12-2008 06:31 PM

Thanks for your opinion. I think the respirator is a good idea regardless of asbestos, as there is a lot of dust in those places.
For the most part, I will avoid running wiring in the same wall space as plumbing, but it appears that at least one receptacle that I want to rewire, and use as an access to bring up new lines does have the hot water heat pipes in the same space.


220/221 03-12-2008 06:48 PM

Get rid of it while you are up there.

If a home inspector ever sees it you wil pay thousands to have it removed.

I did mine when I repiped it 20 years ago and I'm still alive.

joed 03-12-2008 06:51 PM

Wet it. Don't work it dry. It's the dry fibers in the air that are the problem.

220/221 03-12-2008 07:21 PM

I used a sawsall to cut my old asbestos insulated plumbing out.:jester:

I pulled my tshirt up over my nose/mouth and tried to hold my breath.

People were tougher in the olden days.:laughing:

USP45 03-12-2008 08:07 PM


Originally Posted by joed (Post 107087)
Wet it. Don't work it dry. It's the dry fibers in the air that are the problem.

Thats right. We had to get certified for asbestos and lead. If you need to work around it use a spray bottle filled with water and plenty of dish liquid. The soapy water will help bond the fibers and keep them from getting airborn. water by itself is fine but evaporates too quick. The soap will last longer.

billie_t 03-12-2008 08:15 PM

1 fibre sucked into your lung is enough to cause you irreversable damage...once one is in your can never get it is too can not cough it can move around and cause scar tissue that will shorten your breath or can take up to 25-30 years to show up any is not to be taken lightly....sure teh oldtimers never wore any protection and they are still here...well some are..some are dead because of it

leave it alone and have it professionally disposed of

if you have been exposed...dont take it home to your family...dispose of your clothing in the proper manner...shower... and make a report (at least in canada) to your employer so you have it recorded with WSIB in case you develop problems in the future

work safely

Speedy Petey 03-12-2008 08:28 PM


Originally Posted by billie_t (Post 107123)
1 fibre sucked into your lung is enough to cause you irreversable damage...

THE SKY IS FALLING!!! :laughing:


Originally Posted by billie_t (Post 107123)
and make a report (at least in canada) to your employer so you have it recorded with WSIB in case you develop problems in the future

Your attorney thanks you. :whistling2:

billie_t 03-12-2008 08:44 PM


Originally Posted by Speedy Petey (Post 107129)

Your attorney thanks you. :whistling2:

tell that to my latest x-ray petey...30 years in the iron work trade and i have high amounts of scar tissue in my plural plaques and 1 nodule in my lower left lung.. all confirmed to be from asbestos...and i never touched the stuff..but worked in the vicinity of inuslators insulating the buildings i helped erect...30 years ago they put this stuff everywhere because it worked and was they know how bad it is but people like you refuse to believe is not safe to be around if it gets a little research on it...1 fibre CAN kill you .... maybe it won't but the chance is there...

so you are right...the sky is falling...dont let it land on you!
  1. below is just a littel reading for you to start pete
  2. People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes. If products containing asbestos are disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers are released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time. Over time, these fibers can accumulate and cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and lead to serious health problems (6).
    Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (2, 3, 7, 8). Studies have shown that exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma (a relatively rare cancer of the thin membranes that line the chest and abdomen). Although rare, mesothelioma is the most common form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure. In addition to lung cancer and mesothelioma, some studies have suggested an association between asbestos exposure and gastrointestinal and colorectal cancers, as well as an elevated risk for cancers of the throat, kidney, esophagus, and gallbladder (3, 4). However, the evidence is inconclusive.
    Asbestos exposure may also increase the risk of asbestosis (a chronic lung disease that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and permanent lung damage) and other nonmalignant lung and pleural disorders, including pleural plaques (changes in the membrane surrounding the lung), pleural thickening, and pleural effusions (abnormal collections of fluid between the thin layers of tissue lining the lung and the wall of the chest cavity). Although pleural plaques are not precursors to lung cancer, evidence suggests that people with pleural disease caused by asbestos exposure may be at increased risk for lung cancer (9).

Speedy Petey 03-12-2008 08:57 PM


Originally Posted by billie_t (Post 107138)
so you are right...the sky is falling...dont let it land on you!

I CERTAINLY will not. :thumbsup:

Working with it or around it every day is a FAR different thing than "one fiber". I mean let's get real.
I too have seen it sprayed all over buildings, just like today's foam. I bet it was nasty back then for those working with it or around it day in and day out.

Today I just am careful not to disturb it and it does not disturb me.

billie_t 03-12-2008 09:06 PM

i am glad you make a point not to disturb it..i was just replying to the original poster who asked if he should be concenred about disturbing it..i did now want to lead him or anyone else to think they will die instantly from being near it..but caution on the safe side...the fibres are so small---1000 yes one thousand times thinner than a human hair....they can be airborn and you cant even see them....if you move a bat of this insulation to get to a wire and are as careful as you can possably will still likely be breathing it without even knowing fact if you go in any attic you should wear breathing protection...once there..if it is asbestos...leave ... or at least read about the stuff...weigh the risk and proceed with at least the knowledge of what you are really dealing the relief of many i suppose..but i hope i have caused some young man to reconsider lilft that asbestos batt


elkangorito 03-13-2008 02:35 AM

billie_T is correct. A tiny amount of asbestos can kill you.

In Australia, all the horror stories have been revealed via the James Hardie fiasco. This company happily sold asbestos products without any warnings whatsoever. As a matter of fact, they insisted that it was harmless for a long period of time.

The use of asbestos products is now totally banned in Australia & thanks to the government, most of the population are fully aware of the hazards.

To all those who think, "A little bit is not a problem", go ahead...suck in a "little bit" of asbestos dust & then just hope that you don't die a most miserable death.

The below link is an Australian site but "asbestos is asbestos"...anywhere in the world. The documents on this site may be of some assistance for people who need to handle it. Also, there are about 3 types of asbestos, all of which can kill you.

fw2007 03-13-2008 06:54 AM

Wow! Seems like I hit on a sensitive issue!
I have been living in this house a long time. I'm 52 now, but who knows.
I never got close to the pipe wrapping, knowing well that it might contain asbestos.
I figured best thing was to leave it alone, and it didn't seem to be falling apart.

I will follow your advice and spray with soapy water, and wear the respirator.
So far I have seen it only on small areas of pipe, not along the entire length.
Perhaps the previous owner removed what was there. The vast majority of our pipes are clean.

About how much can kill you; I think it's kind of like smoking. Some can smoke for an entire lifetime and never get cancer, while others who smoked as kids and quit get cancer in their 50's.

When I was a kid we lived in a house that had asbestos shingles. We replaced many of them, having to cut them with a hacksaw. It was always outdoors, so I am sure the risk is lower, but if we had known then what we know today, no one would have worked with the stuff.
Our current home has asbestos shingles too, but we haven't touched anything.

Thanks for the heads-up on asbestos inspection when selling the home.


pcampbell 03-13-2008 11:44 AM

I still haven't found a great respirator. Can someone suggest one. Price isn't a huge concern. The biggest problem I have is if I wear a respirator, googles fog up. Seem to be able to only wear one or the other and both are very important.

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