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Asbestos in the home

Any California homeowner thinking about a remodeling job has many things to worry about with their project. They may be concerned about the cost, and with the slowly recovering residential real estate market, whether they will be able to recover the cost of the project when they sell their home.

They may be worried about unknown problems or potential code violations that may be uncovered by the work. But if their home was built before the late 1980s, there is one other issue they need to factor into their project. Is there asbestos in their home?

If your home contains a "popcorn" ceiling finish, and it was build prior to the mid-1980s, it could contain asbestos. While the use of asbestos containing materials for ceilings was technically banned by the government in 1978, there were large quantities of this material already manufactured and sitting in the inventory of many building supply warehouses and with construction contractors. 

And, of course, we would not want to "waste" all of this highly dangerous material. After all, contractors and building suppliers paid good money for this asbestos laden product, why not transfer the long-term costs to innocent homeowners?

Because existing inventories of this material could still be used after 1978, homes built into the 1980s may have asbestos popcorn ceilings. You should have a sample of the material tested before you proceed.

If the sample comes back positive for asbestos, you need to consult with a licensed asbestos abatement contractor, as scraping popcorn texture off your ceiling could release large amounts of asbestos fibers if done improperly.

Source: Daily Herald, "Homeowner worried about asbestos ceilings," Barry Stone, September 6, 2013

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