LESLIE: We’re talking asbestos with Richard in New York. What can we do to help you with this?
RICHARD: Yeah, hi. I was ripping out my basement and I’m noticing these big steam pipes with asbestos on them and I’m sure you’ve come across that before. But my question is, can I wrap them with something, rather than have to go through like looking up in the phone book asbestos removal or just leave it alone?
TOM: Well, you should not be wrapping them with anything because if you disturb them then you’re going to increase the risk that you will be exposed to asbestos fibers. Asbestos on the steam pipes is serving a purpose. It’s insulating the pipes so that the steam does not escape or the steam stays in the steam state, I should say, until it gets up in the radiators where it condenses back to water and goes back to the boiler to be reheated. So the insulation is doing its job.
What we know about asbestos is that if it’s disturbed, if it’s damaged or becomes friable or deteriorated, it can be released to the air. Now, in the process that you might go through wrapping this with something, you’re more likely to release more of that than would ever come out on its own if you just left it alone.
So if this is a basement that you’re going to really not have a lot of activity in, Richard – like the kids aren’t playing down there, they’re not kicking balls around, that kind of stuff...
RICHARD: No, no.
TOM: – and you leave it alone, then you’re probably OK. The best thing to do is to completely remove it but that has to be done by an expert because if it’s done incorrectly it could contaminate the house.
RICHARD: Yeah, I thought they had some kind of product that you could just stick over it and wrap it up so that it was …
TOM: There’s two ways to deal with it; there’s removal and encapsulation, but either process should be done by a pro. I generally prefer removal because, this way, it’s gone. If you encapsulate it and you have to make a repair or something like that, you have to dig back into that same asbestos.
RICHARD: Alright, great. I really appreciate that.
TOM: You’re welcome, Rich. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.