Things have been interesting at Superior Restoration lately. Over the past two weeks, we have received not one but two separate water damage jobs with the exact same issue involved: asbestos. While asbestos hasn’t really been a factor for many decades, when we arrived on-site our technicians found themselves dealing with a situation that previously had only been described in theoretical terms.
For the out-of-towners, the large majority of Temecula’s current housing market was built over the last decade or so, well after asbestos had been banned from usage in construction. The city itself has been around for quite some time, and there is a sizeable “old town” segment that sits in stark contrast to the slick, manufactured look of new developments. Of course, older homes come with a lot of quirks: an antique charm, no association fees, and asbestos in the walls.
Both of the jobs were caused by similar problems with the pipes finally giving out after decades of use. Once we realized that asbestos would be a factor, we had to advise the clients of the fact and perform a full inspection before proceeding, in order to assess where all of the material was located so that we could safely restore the damaged areas. Since water damage restoration almost always involves moving large amounts of air over a prolonged period of time, improper testing would have been disastrous, potentially leaving the entire residence uninhabitable for humans.
At the time of this article, both properties are in the middle of asbestos abatement before we proceed with the restoration, leaving the homeowners extremely inconvenienced in terms of time lost and having to wrangle with their insurance companies. So what should we take away from all this?
We’ve previously mentioned in other blog articles that maintenance is the most crucial component towards preventing water damage. This is even more applicable when it comes to older homes, as not only were construction standards different back then but the materials used were not the same type and quality as they are today. Here’s a couple of brief points to keep in mind whether you are currently a homeowner sitting on an older home, or looking to buy or sell an older property:
1. Check the Pipes.
This should go without saying, but the pipes are the foundation of your home’s water system and should be inspected for potential problems on a regular basis. There’s many different types available, such as galvanized steel, CPVC, PEX, and of course copper – but not all pipes are created equal, and some pipes were used in homes where they should not have been. Copper piping is often a selling point as it is the most reliable and high quality. If you’re not too sure what kind of pipes a home uses, make sure to find out and retrofit as needed. This can save you a ton of time and repair costs down the road should a water damage situation come up.
2. Test for Asbestos
In older home, popcorn ceilings were a common way to provide insulation. However, the presence of popcorn doesn’t always mean asbestos was used. For potential buyers and sellers, testing for asbestos first can be a great point to include as a way to save time on both sides, particularly if the home has already been abated. On the other hand, if you’re already living in the property, testing for asbestos and subsequently performing abatement could improve the quality of the environment substantially.
On the other hand, there are also many people decrying the health hazards of asbestos, saying that they were drastically overrated and that the actual threat from inhaling asbestos fibers was completely blown out of proportion. In some cases, even if there is asbestos on-site, there may be situations where it won’t matter, depending on the scale of the water damage, location, and the company being used. Smaller jobs which can be quickly restored may end up with the technicians simply isolating the source of the asbestos during restoration, as the costs and time involved in a full inspection would be prohibitive. Larger jobs, particularly class 3 where water is coming from the ceiling, may not have such a luxury.
Keeping all of these factors in mind is important when making a decision on how to perform preventative maintenance on your home and what you should apply your resources to. Since each property is unique, making a recommendation is outside the scope of this article, so be sure to consult with your local professionals for advice if you aren’t sure of the proper course of action.