If your home was built before 1978 and hasn't been substantively remodeled since then, you may be dealing with the prospect of removing asbestos cement siding when performing a remodeling project. While the prospect of handling and disposing of asbestos siding yourself may leave you nervous, careful preparation can allow you to do this project yourself with minimal expense and risk. Read on to learn more about some situations in which DIY asbestos siding removal may make sense, as well as some health- and eco-friendly siding replacement options.
When can (or should) you remove your asbestos-containing siding yourself?
Most experts recommend professional removal of any siding, flooring tiles, or insulation suspected to contain asbestos. Because this asbestos-containing material must be removed and disposed of separately from other types of construction waste, it can sometimes make sense to delegate this project to someone who has expertise in the environmental and regulatory process of asbestos disposal.
However, asbestos siding may not pose as much risk to the DIY set as other asbestos-containing materials, as it's much more difficult for tiny particles to become airborne when you're not cutting, smashing, or otherwise pulverizing the siding. If you're confident that you can handle the regulatory requirements of asbestos disposal, you may be able to save money on your siding renovation by removing your asbestos siding yourself. To do this, you'll first want to invest in some personal protective equipment (PPE), including a respirator and body suit, to protect yourself from inadvertent exposure.
Next, you'll use a garden hose to thoroughly wet the section of siding you're planning to remove. Working with wet asbestos is your best bet to keep particles and dust on the siding panel where it belongs. If a dry piece of siding becomes visible, or if the siding cracks, wet it as quickly as possible to prevent these fibers from entering the surrounding air. Carefully use a hammer or flat-head screwdriver to pry up the nails holding the siding in place, then place the wet siding onto a thick sheet of plastic.
Once you've removed your siding, you'll be able to bundle it in the plastic, seal it with duct tape, affix the requisite asbestos warnings to the outside of the bundle, and send it to the dump for disposal.
What are your best siding replacement options?
Before contractors and consumers were made aware of asbestos's cancer-causing properties, it was prized for its use in a variety of applications due to its ability to resist heat and flame. During a time when many popular insulating options were highly flammable, asbestos gave homeowners the ability to tile, side, roof, and insulate their homes without worrying about heat loss causing energy bills to rise or an errant spark leading to a four-alarm fire. Unfortunately, the same qualities that give asbestos its many uses can also lead to cancer when these flame-retardant fibers and particles are inhaled and settle in the lungs.
Fortunately, advances in construction and engineering technology have led to the development of a number of non-carcinogenic alternatives. Fiber cement siding is one option that is substantially similar to asbestos siding in appearance and durability, but poses no risk to homeowners. This siding is made by mixing wood fibers with a type of cement, creating a hard, slightly pebbled surface that has the strength of wood and the weather-resistance of cement.
Another good replacement option may be composite vinyl siding. Unlike the vinyl of yesteryear, this composite siding is attractive, durable, and UV-resistant, helping it retain its new appearance for years. Other than pressure-washing your siding periodically to remove stubborn dirt, you shouldn't need to perform much (if any) regular maintenance.
For more information and assistance with asbestos removal, contact a professional company, such as American Abatement.