LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania is on the line with a question about asbestos. How can we help you today?
NANCY: I live in a home that was built in the mid-1950s. And on the ceiling, there are 1x1 square ceiling tiles. And I would like to take those off and just have a smooth ceiling put up. But I see on all these home improvement shows where they get into pulling things out of older houses and some of the things have asbestos in them. And I’m wondering how you tell that.
TOM: Asbestos can’t be visually identified; it has to be tested. And what you could potentially do is take a sample of one of those ceiling tiles and send it to an asbestos testing lab and have it identified.
NANCY: How do you find an asbestos testing lab?
LESLIE: You can buy kits at any sort of major home center. I know Home Depot carries one. I think that one of the main brands that you can find in stores is PRO-LAB. And then you send a piece of whatever you’re concerned about to this company and they run a test and get it back to you with whatever their findings are.
Now, the issue with asbestos is that it’s so lightweight that if it becomes particulate, if it breaks up and gets into the air, I mean it takes almost a full day for it ever to reach to the ground. So that’s why there is such a concern when there is asbestos present. But most likely, your ceiling tiles are hopefully fine.
TOM: Yeah, they’re probably just a fiber tile, which we saw millions of these used in the 50s. But if you’re concerned, that would be the way to do it: to send a sample to an asbestos-testing lab. You can use one that’s available in retail or if you just Google "asbestos testing lab," you’ll find these all over the country. Find a good one, slip a piece in a plastic bag, send it off and they’ll read it for you.
NANCY: OK, great. I didn’t know they existed.
TOM: Alright, Nancy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.