Asbestos safety

Asbestos was used as a popular building material until 1999. If in a good state of repair and left undamaged, it is not a hazard to health. It is only dangerous when it is damaged, worn or worked on with power tools, as fibres can be released into the air.

We inspect and test our homes for asbestos and maintain the information on an asbestos register. If a repair is needed that would involve disturbing asbestos, we will carry out the work with due care and take the appropriate precautions under safety regulations.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals made up of many small fibres. These fibres are very strong and resistant to heat, so asbestos was used in a wide range of building materials. Inhaling asbestos fibres is known to cause serious damage to health and its use was banned in 1999. No properties built after 2000 should contain asbestos.

When is asbestos a problem?

Left alone, asbestos isn’t dangerous. However, once disturbed, tiny asbestos fibres are released which can prove deadly if breathed in. Any known asbestos will have been checked before you moved into your property. It is unlikely that the level of asbestos-containing materials in your home will be harmful. But it is important that asbestos is not disturbed or damaged in any way, so you must get advice from us before carrying out DIY.

Where can asbestos be found?

Areas where asbestos may be found include:

  • Textured decorative coatings such as Artex
  • Vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles
  • Eaves and soffits
  • Corrugated cement sheeting, usually found on garages
  • Pipe lagging
  • Loose fill insulation

These are examples -this is not a full list. You cannot tell if a material contains asbestos simply by looking at it. Asbestos can only be identified by using a special microscope.

What should you do if you have, or think you have, asbestos in your home?

Don’t panic. Material containing asbestos that is in a good condition, and not damaged, is perfectly fine left within the property.

If the material is badly damaged and could release dust, then we may need to remove it. This must be carried out by a licensed contractor. We will arrange the work and fully discuss it with you.

What care should you take with DIY?

If you know that you have material containing asbestos in your home, or are concerned that you might have, then you must take extra care when carrying out DIY. Ask us for advice before carrying out any work.

This especially applies if your home has textured decorative coating that contains asbestos, such as Artex, on the walls or ceiling. It is safe to clean and repaint this coating as long as the surface is in a good condition - but do not attempt to sand, scrape, wire brush or drill it.

For more advice, call 0800 435 016 or email info@waterloo.org.uk