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What exactly is involved in removing the asbestos ourselves?

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QuestionMy wife and I are considering our options regarding our popcorn ceilings. We've had them tested and they have an asbestos level of 5 percent. I've heard that homeowners can remove asbestos themselves but that it can be a hassle. What exactly is involved in removing the asbestos ourselves?

AnswerI've been in the construction field for over 25 years and wish I'd known then what I know now about asbestos. I would not have tackled a lot of projects because of the asbestos content of certain building products. Removing a popcorn ceiling is at the top of the list.

Removal by a professional asbestos removal contractor will ensure that the job is done legally and safely. Yes, it will be expensive, but what is your health—and the health of your family—worth?

If you choose to do the work yourself, I encourage you to read all the Q&As here carefully, check out all the links to read what others have to offer, and consult your local/regional/state air quality authorities about the applicable regulations before you begin the project.

Asbestos abatement has stringent requirements. When you finish your research, you may decide to turn it over to the pros, something I heartily recommend.

At a minimum, here's what the project will involve:

  • Permits and paperwork. Contact the EPA, your state's environmental protection agency, your state's labor and industries office, and the air quality governing body in your area to learn their requirements. Be sure also to speak with your local building department as they may also require permits.
  • It will take about three working days (from start to finish) to clear an area approximately 600 square feet—including collecting supplies, setting up the containment area, removing the asbestos containing material, cleaning up, and disposing of the waste properly and legally.
  • You'll need to wear specific protective clothing while you perform the work. This protective gear will make that work both demanding and difficult to perform.
  • Water will be used to wet the asbestos and it will raise the room's humidity, reducing your visibility through the required eye protection, and making your protective clothing hot, sticky, and uncomfortable.
  • Breathing through a respirator is difficult and it can cause stress to your heart and lungs.
  • Dismantling the containment area must be done in a specific way, the popcorn waste and all contaminated sheeting and clothing must be correctly bagged and labeled, and all the debris must be disposed of at a dump or transfer station that accepts hazardous waste.

This is just a quick overview. As you can see, there's a lot to consider before you can remove a popcorn ceiling yourself. Actually, removing the popcorn ceiling is the easy part—the real work is in the preparation and the added measures and equipment required just to get to the removal stage.

If you are still interested in tackling this challenging project after everything you've read so far, then good luck! Me? I'd hire a pro.

To get the whole picture, I recommend that you purchase my informative article, Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings, Purchase this article to learn about asbestos in popcorn ceiling and how to patch them! which describes how to determine if asbestos is present and the steps a professional takes to decide if removal is the correct course of action. These same steps apply to homeowners facing the same decisions.

Included are links to government and state agencies where you can get more information on the subject, locate state-certified professional asbestos contractors for removal, and find other documents that address removing the asbestos yourself.

As an added bonus, Patching a Popcorn Ceiling has been added to Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings to help those who need to make repairs to their ceilings. The process is about the same whether the ceiling contains asbestos or not; however, for your own peace of mind, you still need to determine if your ceiling contains asbestos, and the article describes procedures to follow to safely take a sample for testing.




Click to Purchase Don't forget—before starting this project get your informative 10-page PDF article titled Asbestos In Popcorn Ceilings and Patching a Popcorn Ceiling. To order your downloadable .pdf printable copy, click here or click the purchase button to the left!

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Copyright © 2008 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.



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