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Asbestos Pipe Insulation: Remove or Encapsulate?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Going into the basement with Dave in New Jersey. What can we do for you?

    DAVE: Hi. I’m calling about some mean (ph) steam pipes in a 100-year-old house.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVE: I still have some asbestos on them.

    TOM: Alright.

    DAVE: And the question is, is there a way to safely seal that asbestos in plastic and make that a safe environment or do I have to go through a costly hazardous waste type of removal?

    TOM: Well, there’s really two ways to deal with asbestos insulation on steam heating pipes: one is removal and one is encapsulation. But neither are a do-it-yourself job, Dave, and I am an advocate of removal because once you remove it you never have to deal with it again. It doesn’t have to be, “Well, we have asbestos but it’s been covered.” I think removing it is really the best thing to do and I would have it done by someone who is experienced at removing it because if it’s done wrong you can literally contaminate the entire house. Having said that, though, if the basement insulation on the pipes, if the asbestos insulation is not going to be disturbed, the chances of it being released to the air are very, very small. So it’s OK as long as you don’t disturb it but if the insulation is in an area where the kids are playing; the balls can hit the pipes; you know, it’s in a traffic zone; that kind of thing, then it’s even more important to have it removed. So not a do-it-yourself job; something for a professional to be done. It can be encapsulated but I would prefer to see it removed.

    And there’s one final step to that, Dave, and that is after you remove it, remember the insulation was there for a reason. You have to have new insulation put back on; otherwise, it’s going to be very, very hot in the basement; the steam is going to take a lot longer to get upstairs and it’s going to be more expensive to heat your house.

    DAVE: Outstanding. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Dave. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 

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