Asbestos siding is a type of cement siding that was mixed with asbestos. House siding materials were made with asbestos due to its additional durability, especially regarding fire and pest resistance. However, while many people are familiar with the use of asbestos for internal insulation, fewer are aware of its presence in places like the siding of their houses.
Asbestos was so popular in siding because it provides additional protection against fire and weather elements over time, making the home easier to insulate and maintain. However, the added cost of safely removing asbestos can quickly negate that benefit if the material has been present long enough. Asbestos was used in homes for much of the 20th century, so if you have a home that was built before 1990, it could contain asbestos siding.
Asbestos siding is not dangerous if left undisturbed. The danger of asbestos comes when the material is disturbed. At this point, it can release microscopic fibers through the air, which pose a severe health hazard when inhaled. Asbestos is associated with many long-term diseases, which is why its use was eventually banned in residential construction decades ago.
While this may make it sound like it’s okay to leave asbestos siding alone, it’s often a good idea to replace it. This is especially true for older houses where the siding may have been installed long ago and is in a fragile state prone to breaking apart.
Asbestos siding often looks like shingle siding or wood-grain siding, as it commonly imitated both. However, asbestos siding can come in many forms, and it’s hard to identify it from one glance. The best way to tell if siding contains asbestos is to look for any signs of its age. Some sidings might have markings imprinted on them that identify when the material was produced and/or installed. If the date is after 1960, there’s a good chance that the siding doesn’t contain any asbestos.
Many asbestos sidings have a characteristic shingle-like cover pattern which can be a telltale sign of what’s underneath. This is not a universal sign, though, and it’s not a guarantee that your house contains asbestos.
Replacing asbestos siding is always a good idea once it’s been identified with certainty. You may think that leaving it undisturbed is safe, but it doesn’t take that much to create a health hazard.
For example, if you ever decide to repaint your house, you may need to sand down the siding to remove old paint. Unfortunately, this can easily expose asbestos and disturb it to the point where it starts releasing fibers into the air.
If you’re planning to do any major repairs to the house, then you should consider removing any traces of asbestos safely beforehand. Otherwise, your remodeling project can get more expensive than you’d expect.
Asbestos siding negatively affects resale value, but not too significantly. After all, some buyers won’t care about the presence of asbestos in the siding, especially if they have no plans to renovate, as it’s relatively safe if left undisturbed. Others will immediately turn away at the mere mention of the material. If you’re planning to sell your home down the road, leaving asbestos siding untouched is a bit of a gamble.
You may find a buyer who doesn’t care about asbestos in your home, but that’s down to luck. You might also run into the opposite situation if you live in a smaller community – once word gets out that your home uses asbestos, any interested buyers might use that as leverage to bring the price down, even if they don’t care about it that much themselves.
Asbestos siding is something that should never be left unaddressed. At the very least, you should be aware of the presence of asbestos in your home and know which parts of the structure contain the material. That way, you’ll be better equipped for any future renovation work involving heavy construction.
If you have no plans of selling the home anytime soon, you can probably leave your asbestos siding as it is. But if you start thinking about selling, addressing this problem should be one of your top priorities.