What to Do When You Suspect Your Old Fencing Structure May Contain Asbestos
Fencing structures built before the 1990s utilised asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos features impressive fire resistance and insulation properties. It is also incredibly durable, and when used in fence sheeting, it creates a durable structure that can last for decades. Unfortunately, asbestos fibres are dangerous when released into the air and inhaled. Thus, if you suspect your old fence may contain asbestos materials, it's essential to take the following remediation steps with the help of an asbestos expert.
Ascertain the Presence of Asbestos in Materials
You need concrete proof that your fence has asbestos materials before moving forward. The key characteristics of an asbestos fence are:
- It was built before the 1990s or before the complete ban of asbestos in Australia
- It has cement-like sheeting which has a grey colour
- It has the visual characteristics of an asbestos fence, for example, corrugated sheets, cement capping and diamond-shaped fasteners
The process of identifying asbestos-containing materials (ACM) requires a great deal of expertise, especially on residential fences. Previous repairs and fence renovations may have altered some of the features. For example, while asbestos fences have cement capping, the capping may have been replaced with a metal one during repairs. Thus, only an inspector can truly determine whether your fence has asbestos.
Look for Signs of Disturbance
Asbestos-containing materials have asbestos fibres in two forms: Friable and non-friable. If the materials are damaged, the asbestos can easily be released into the air; thus, it is friable or disturbed. Materials that are still intact and undamaged have non-friable asbestos. Now, only friable asbestos poses a danger to the occupants of the property. You can choose whether to remove the ACM or not. However, if the materials are in a poor physical condition and the fibres are disturbed, you have to remove them before they cause a health hazard in your home.
Take Appropriate Remediation Measures
Even when asbestos-containing materials are intact, you should consider removing them. Over time, the fence may deteriorate, and removal will be inevitable. Thus, it's advisable to get rid of ACM before they become problematic in the future. The removal project should involve an asbestos expert to avoid mishaps that could pose health risks. The experts also know how to handle and dispose of asbestos correctly. Don't attempt any DIY removal, even if the fibres are undisturbed.
Asbestos dust may land on the surrounding soil during the removal of affected fencing materials. After the removal task, ask your inspector to check the soil for any lurking fibres. If they are present, these should also be removed together with the soil to avoid future exposure.
For more information, contact an asbestos removal service.