What’s Wrong With This? Doesn’t Look Too Bad, Right?

deck = asbestos sheet

SO what’s wrong with this?  Doesn’t Look Too Bad, Right?

The cantilevered structure of the balconies are fine.  There’s some blistering paint on a nearby wall but thats just paint work.

The balcony iron work is in good shape, firmly attached and no rust.  Caulking could look neater but it’s doing its job.  All the balconies on the street side are like this, no rotting wood. The rear balconies are another story however.

Did you notice the garage doors?  They are roll ups but they have man doors build into them.  They haven’t been used for cars for years but they operate just fine, manually, and the man doors are functional too.

So has my miss-direction kept you from seeing the really interesting detail?…Maybe.

Here’s a close up that should tell the story:

asbestos balcony deck


The deck covering material itself. I first zeroed in on it because of how thin it was. Naturally the next question is what is it? I’ve seen it before, behind and above wood stoves and furnaces but not in this application.

Later I had the chance to ask the owner about it.

I said “That decking material on the front balconies, did you have that put on?” “Yes” he said, ” The original wood was rotting”.

I said “Yes but the material, the deck…”

“Yes it’s like.. a fibreglass..” (owner)

“You mean it’s…” (me)

“Yes..It’s asbestos.” (owner).      He admitted it, but he wasn’t going to volunteer it until I kept asking.


Asbestos. Asbestos sheet stock. Hard but very brittle.

The good news is that whole 4′ by 8′ sheets were used. There was no cutting. There is no evidence of friable conditions at the moment. Friable is the high risk condition. Dust is created. Inhaled asbestos dust is the known carcinogen pathway.

The bad news; it’s asbestos, it’s been there at least 5 years, probably longer. It will start to delaminate and breakdown. It will then be friable. Structurally it is an inappropriate material for this use. It is brittle and unless there is reinforcement underneath (plywood layer and close joist spacing) it is susceptible to impact damage. It will then be friable, instantly. The exposed edges can easily be damaged (picture an errant snow shovel hitting it.)

So if you are in the Montreal area, and are planning to buy or sell property, you need these risks identified. You can contact me for a full inspection or an issue specific consultation. I can also send samples and have them blind tested at independent laboratories.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Asbestos …but it was such a useful material!

Asbestos is present in a great many homes and is a home value and health concern to everyone. I very often am able to identify products that are in the homes that I inspect and can advise as to the risk concerns and the correct mitigation procedures.

This is a reblog, and I usually disable comments on reblogs. If you would like to leave a comment, click on the link below and leave your comment with the original author who in this case sourced the article from very knowledgeable people.


Asbestos …but it was such a useful material!

A couple of months ago, a gentleman named Joe Lederman contacted me with something nice to say:

Hey there,

I am the Social Media Coordinator for the Pleural Mesothelioma Center…. I came across your site and I am impressed by the information and resources listed…. If you are interested in creating consumer awareness by adding our article content, please feel free to email me back….

Anyone who starts off an email to me with “Hey there” automatically gets my attention. It just sounds so down to Earth, so Texan, so much better than “Dear Sir or Madam – I am the director of the Bank of Nigeria and found US$80,000,000 in an unknown account….” But I digress….

So I emailed Joe and he was kind enough to provide an article and a cool picture! Here it is!


Guest article provided by Joe Lederman, Social Media Coordinator, PleuralMesothelioma.com, joe@pleuralmesothelioma.com

Asbestos in the home

Asbestos, one of the most highly regarded building materials for more than a century, is a fibrous mineral that was incorporated into thousands of products around the world. Its fire resistance, flexibility, and high durability characteristics made it the ideal choice for manufacturers on almost every continent.

Many homes and buildings constructed before 1980 have a high likelihood of having asbestos in them, but even homes built in the 1990s may contain asbestos in vermiculite insulation. Although these industries were aware of its hazardous qualities, the public was not told anything for several decades.

By taking some easy precautions, exposure to asbestos can be easily avoidable. Having a professional home inspection is a great step in ensuring that your home is free of materials that could harm your health.


Asbestos tips and home inspections

Home inspections are a valuable process that rapidly studies areas of concern in your property and gives you peace of mind. To protect your real estate investment, professional consultants can provide an evaluation of the home. Consultants will identify material defects in structures and components of the home, in adherence to or exceeding national, state, and industry regulations and standards.

Asbestos that is damaged due to age is known as friable asbestos. This is a serious concern because its toxic fibers can easily circulate and be inhaled. The best advice is to leave any suspected asbestos undisturbed until evaluated by a professional. Asbestos that is not disturbed may not be a cause for concern. Normally, asbestos can appear in roof shingles, pipe coverings (especially at water heaters and gas-fired furnaces), dry wall board , attic insulation, joint compounds, electrical wires, gaskets, furnace cement, and fire brick. The material was also used in a type of ceiling called popcorn ceiling. If an individual is exposed to airborne asbestos fibers, it can lead to the development of a form of lung cancer known as mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma itself has a very long latency period with symptoms arising anywhere from 20 to 50 years after exposure. In most patients, this leads to a late diagnosis when the disease is already in an advanced stage of development. On average, the mesothelioma life span of a patient is not as positive as one would hope, ranging between four and eighteen months following diagnosis.

Asbestos removal and alternatives

The California Environmental Protection Agency has information that assists citizens in the inspection, removal, and safe disposal of asbestos. Removal in public facilities, homes, and workplaces must be done by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. Homeowners should not disturb any suspected asbestos materials as this will release fibers into the air. Depending on the condition of the asbestos, many experts believe it is better to seal it off rather than remove it. The area is usually isolated from the rest of the house by shutting down ventilation systems and sealing them.

Due to expanding technology and long-term cost efficiency evolving at a high rate, the need for environmentally sustainable and healthy building materials is growing as well. Green alternatives to asbestos include the use of lcynene foam, cotton fiber, and cellulose.

Cotton fiber is made from recycled batted material and treated so that it is fireproof. Icynene, a water-based spray polyurethane foam, features no toxic components. Many cities in the United States have begun adapting to the green paradigm in hopes of instilling environmentally sustainable building products that provide a healthy home.

If you need a home inspection to complete your day,
make sure it’s one by Russel Ray!


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Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Moldy Shower Caulk… Fixed!

Here is a gerat way to clean up an unsightly condition that is problematic for many homeowners and housekeepers.

Once it is cleaned up keep it from reoccurring by using the exhaust fan while the shower or tub is in use and for up to an hour afterwards (with the door closed). This will ensure that the excess humidity is removed and this eliminates the conducive conditions that allow surface molds to grow there in the first place.

This is a reblog, and I usually disable comments on reblogs. If you would like to leave a comment, click on the link below and leave your comment with the original author who did all the work on this post and deserves your support with your comments.

Dirty bathrooms are a huge turnoff for home buyers.  Mold is another huge turnoff.  Combine the two and the ‘yuck’ factor multiplies.  I think everyone has seen moldy bathroom caulk before, and if you’ve tried cleaning this stuff, you know it’s impossible.

Moldy caulk in shower Moldy caulk in shower close-up

I recently moved in to home with some nasty looking caulk in the shower; that’s my shower pictured above.  I figured I would need to remove all of the moldy caulking and re-caulk my shower walls to get them looking good again, but after doing some online research, I found a cleaning method that worked surprisingly well and wasn’t much work.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn this in to a Martha Stewart blog… but I was so happy with the results that I had to share the process.

Gather supplies. I grabbed a small mixing bowl, a jug of bleach, a box of baking soda, a disposable paint brush, a roll of plastic wrap, and a spray bottle.  The plastic wrap (orange handle, green plastic) shown in the photo below is the stuff you use to wrap things together, but you can also use the same plastic wrap you keep in your kitchen.  Oh, and one other thing – while it’s not required for the project, I strongly suggest wearing a respirator.  Those bleach fumes are bad news.  Also, wear old clothes that you wouldn’t mind spilling bleach on.  It might happen.

Cleaning Supplies

Mix up your cleaning solution. The cleaning solution consists of a bleach and baking soda paste.  You make it by mixing bleach and baking soda in a bowl until it’s about the consistency of pancake batter.  The baking soda doesn’t do any cleaning; it’s just a cheap powder that will help make the bleach pasty.  Don’t skimp on the cleaning solution here – go ahead and make way more than you think you’ll need.  Bleach and baking soda are both inexpensive.

Disintegrated paint brush bristlesApply the cleaning solution to the moldy caulk. Use your disposable paint brush to apply the bleach paste on to the moldy caulk.  Again, don’t skimp here; it’s cheap, so cake it on.  I suggest you try to work somewhat quickly though.  The bleach is going to disintegrate the bristles on your disposable paint brush, so you don’t have all day.

Cover the cleaning solution with plastic and wait. Covering the cleaning solution with plastic will help to keep the bleach from drying out.  Now you wait.  If you have a white porcelain kitchen sink or white porcelain whatever-else, spread the extra cleaning paste on it.  You can just let the paste sit for about 10 minutes, and then your sink will look brand new when you rinse the bleach off.  No scrubbing required.

Check on it. After the bleach has been sitting for several hours, it will probably have dried out, despite the plastic covering.  At this point, if the caulking looks as good as new, great!  You’re done.  If you still have moldy caulk, put some bleach in a spray bottle and wet the walls down right above the plastic wrap.  The bleach will run down underneath the plastic and re-saturate the paste.  You can do this as many times as it takes, but even with my super-nasty caulk, I only needed to re-apply the bleach one time.

Now clean up.  At this point, your caulk should look brand new and bleachy fresh, or at least pretty close to it.  Now you can clean up the mess.  Water works just fine.  Click on the before and after photos below for a larger version to see how well this worked.  If I were a better photographer, all of the whites would have looked the same, but oh well… I think you get the point.

Moldy caulk before and after

Moldy caulk before and after closeup

I was amazed that this worked so well.  The entire project probably involved about 20 minutes of work, and required no elbow grease whatsoever.

And now, a word of caution:  do this project at your own risk.  Bleach is powerful stuff.  Read the warning label on the bleach.  It says to use in a well-ventilated area, don’t let it touch your skin, don’t breath the vapors, etc.  Bleach can also cause pits in metal.  I used it on the metal trim ring for my shower faucet and no pitting occured, but other people might not be so lucky.  Also, I’m not kidding about wearing a respirator.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections – EmailMaple Grove Home Inspections

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Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post