When you realize your home is covered in siding that contains asbestos, it can feel alarming and a little scary due to the health hazards that asbestos is known for. When asbestos is mobilized (when siding is removed), it can pose a health risk if inhaled or ingested. As a result, extreme caution needs to be exercised when siding containing asbestos is taken off your home.
If your home is covered in asbestos-cement siding, contact a team of experts with training in the safe removal and disposal of this product so you don’t endanger yourself or your loved ones.
Here are the ins and outs of asbestos siding, what to do if your home is covered in it, and what to replace it with!
Asbestos Siding 101
Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral that is pulled into a fibrous material. It’s super resistant to heat and fire and has great insulating properties, which is why it was so popular as a building material until the early 1970s—when its dangerous properties were made evident.
How to identify asbestos siding
- What it looks like: Asbestos-containing siding typically has low vertical grooves. It is layered on a home with each row of siding overlapping the row just below it. It is usually punctured with 2-3 nails around its border. When it breaks, the siding tiles are rough and sharp on the damaged edge.
- What it’s shaped like: Asbestos-containing siding was generally manufactured in 12-inch by 24-inch shingles.
- What it sounds like: When you tap asbestos siding, it creates a sharp sound similar to the sound of tapping on a ceramic tile.
- What it’s made of: Asbestos siding is made of cement and asbestos fibers, creating a solid mass. It binds and strengthens the cement, making it a durable and fireproof building material.
- When it was used: If your home was built between 1920 and 1973, it likely is covered in asbestos-containing siding.
- How to identify if you don’t have asbestos siding: A key indicator that you’re safe from asbestos-containing siding is by checking the manufacturing code, which is usually stamped on the back of asbestos-free siding shingles.
The Dangers of Asbestos Siding
1. If asbestos is inhaled, it presents a health hazard.
There are health risks if asbestos fibers are inhaled (including several lung diseases and different types of cancer).
2. If your family member works with asbestos, it can endanger you.
Exposure to asbestos is simply not safe. In fact, those who work with asbestos-containing materials are usually the individuals who contract asbestos-related diseases. It’s also to be noted that fibers carried home on the clothing of those who work with asbestos have caused diseases in their family members too.
3. This brittle siding releases dangerous particles when broken or cracked.
Manufacturers thought the process of making asbestos cement neutralized asbestos fibers, but that mindset was later proven wrong. When this siding material is broken or cracked, it releases asbestos fibers, endangering those in proximity to the airborne particles.
4. It chips, cracks, and breaks easily.
Because of its brittle nature, asbestos can become cracked, chipped, and broken easily—creating a health hazard for others due to asbestos-containing airborne fibers.
5. When cleaned improperly, it can create expensive problems.
When homeowners clean their asbestos-containing siding with a pressure washer, it can cause the siding to crack, leading to costly moisture invasion in the home.
Why It Is Important to Have Professionals Remove Asbestos Siding
While there are some DIY home projects that are advantageous to conquer on your own, removing asbestos siding isn’t one of them. It’s actually dangerous to remove the asbestos siding on your own.
If you try to remove your asbestos siding yourself and asbestos particles get into the air, they can do some serious damage by polluting the air with toxic chemical properties that are harmful to the health of anyone who breathes them. Since lung cancer and mesothelioma have been connected to asbestos, it’s just not worth the trade-off of trying to remove your siding on your own.
What is the best solution if you have asbestos siding?
If you have asbestos siding, you have two choices: to cover your siding with another material or to have it safely removed from your home by professionals, and replaced with a safe, reliable, siding material.
Asbestos-containing siding can negatively impact your home’s resale value due to its looks and its health hazards. While wood siding can be sanded, repainted, and refinished, asbestos siding can’t. It’s tough to find replacement siding for worn-out asbestos-containing siding. And frankly, many homebuyers consider it unattractive.
Get Safe Removal of Your Asbestos Siding (and Replace It with America’s Top Siding Choice!)
Most contractors won’t remove asbestos siding. They simply cover it up with another siding material. At Porter Family Exteriors, we are experienced and trained in the safe removal and disposal of asbestos siding. We have a project manager on site from start to finish during your siding removal to ensure everything is done properly.
We recommend you consider replacing your asbestos siding with durable, high-performance James Hardie fiber cement siding, ensuring you have peace of mind that your home is safe and well-protected for up to 50 years. Hardie siding is not only water-resistant and pest-resistant but also low maintenance and beautiful!
Learn more about how we safely remove asbestos siding from your home. And learn more about our expert James Hardie siding installation services.