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Old 08-03-2009, 08:54 PM   #1
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Chance of asbestos exterior siding?

I live in MI, I have a 1920 craftman style home. My current siding has some missing pieces, I've been told it is asbestos siding. I was wondering where I could go to find out if I can take it off by myself and then what to do with it? My other question is. I want to insulate the outer walls, I was thinking that I could use 2" R-10 foam insulation and then a vapor barrier then new vinyl siding, but I didn't know if my windows would look funny. As of right now my outer sills are almost 3", would it look right if i added another 3" to it? I was also wondering if I should just get blown-in insulation for the outer walls and then a vapor barrier and then vinyl siding?
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Old 08-03-2009, 10:23 PM   #2
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You could possibly have asbestos siding. It isn't dangerous at all unless you fiddle with it...Breaking it, removing it, sawing it and drilling it all render the asbestos friable which presents a very real hazard. Left alone it won't be a problem. If removed, you might have a heck of a time getting a landfill to take it. It normally has to be professionally removed and specially packaged, then sent to a hazardous materials dump ($$$$$). I'd look at siding right over it with vinyl or similar siding.

Insulation can be blown in on exterior walls. They normally just drill a small hole at the top of the wall.
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:52 PM   #3
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A quick call to your Building Department will let you know. A lot of landfills let homeowners dispose of it if in the 8-15% asbestos content. Bag and tie it, much better that trying to nail through it for new siding. It breaks and chips off, dropping chunks while you're siding. Older houses have fire-blocking, running horizontally, in the middle of the wall. If DIY with the insulation (rent the blower from box stores, sometimes free), here is more info:
A local lab will test it for $15-$30.
Be safe, G
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:44 AM   #4
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Your Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is the place to start. They can tell you if you need any special permits or if special handling is required. Asbestos siding is not considered by the U.S. EPA to be a friable material. That means that it cannot be reduced to powder by ordinary hand pressure, thereby releasing airborne fibers. That is not to say that poor handling won't cause airborne dust. Breaking it or crushing it will release fibers into the air. Most states will allow removal of cast asbestos siding without permitting. Most will allow a homeowner to remove it himself, regulating only commercial abatement enterprises. It is often required to be bagged before disposal in a regular landfill. You need to make contact with your state agency to get the full requirements, as these vary from state to state. Disposal requirements will vary as well. Contact your local landfill and/or your refuse hauler for specifics. If you are in fact allowed to remove and dispose of it, then you also need to practice some safe handling techniques. Minimize breakage, wear gloves, wear disposable coveralls, wear a half face N95 respirator with P100 cartridges. Don't wear the coveralls into your home. Don't re-use coveralls after they have been worn. Wash your hands. Avoid any practices that could raise dust from the material.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:14 AM   #5
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Handymaniac, I realize you are in MI. where it certainly gets colder than here in S. Ga. I have placed vinyl siding over the old asbestos shingle siding without removing the siding often. Your idea of using 2" insulation is different that us using the 3/8" or 1/2" foam insulation we use here. It sounds like the 2" + the vinyl would leave the windows and doors "back-set" somewhat, and trimming them out with "J" channel would be interesting, to say the least. Your home could be a candidate for the fire stops which would interfere with the blown-in insulation unless you blow in above and below the fire stops. You will have to determine IF you have them. Another thought comes to mind with a 1920 built home--what are the interior walls made of? This is the time era here when you may find either early drywall which was in 2 x 4 sheets and run horizontally or you may find plaster walls. Good Luck, David
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