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

We don’t need to get it inspected before, that’s the buyers expense, right?

We don’t need to get it inspected before, that’s the buyers expense, right?

Well ……. consider this;

You have to have it tested, you can’t prove it, you can only say you suspect it, unless…….. it’s labeled

But there it was;

Pipe insulation

Yes it’s labeled. This is rare,….SO rare… I never ever expected to see it.

Here it is, the photo flipped over so you can read the label;

Asbestos tag

Even though part of the label is missing it’s very clear what it says and is repeated in the red area of the tag.

This home was a 1920’s construction, very solid and very well built. At the time of it’s installation this fireproof pipe insulation was one of the good guys. It was state of the art and the best you could buy, the best you could have, period.

So naturally, this is not rare in that neighbourhood and is commonly dealt with now by removal by a properly trained contractors. In this home it was all easily accessible and could be removed from this unoccupied dwelling fairly easily.

However, this became one of the ‘issues’ for an otherwise marvellous, excellent house in a very desirable neighbourhood.

Because this and a few other details were a surprise to the buyers this transaction is at risk of collapsing. Both agents worked hard to get this deal to work, and to save it they will now have an uphill battle.

Sadly this could have been avoided. Had there been a sellers or pre-listing inspection this ‘surprise’ could all have been avoided.

This sale had gotten to the point of the buyers inspection that I performed, after many negotiations and counter offers. The price ended up lower than the ask and the buyers had budgeted for certain renos in addition to the purchase price.

So it was a tight, fragile situation before the buyers inspection report provided any information on the physical conditions.

Had the sellers or the agent known the facts before listing it would be an easy matter to price repairs, factor it into the pricing and proceed with confidence.

Even when repairs are not done, simply declaring or making the information available to buyers prior to receiving offers means that there are no surprises when a later inspection is done.

No surprises means no upsets, so if you, or people you know, are planning to or are trying to sell a home, they can be proactive and have a pre-listing inspection done.

The idea that an inspection “is the buyers expense” should be re-thought. It’s a false economy and causes a lot of stress.

What do you think the sellers and agents trying to salvage this sale would say today?

N.B. Asbestos fiber dust has been identified as a known carcinogen. It’s considered hazardous only when inhaled. You can and probably have held it or products containing it in your hands, quite safely. It’s removal requires specific protocols and procedures that control and limit the creation and spread of dust and asbestos containing materials and ensure that all products have been completely removed with out residue remnants. Normally at the end of the process an air quality test is done to verify that removal has been successful.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post