Understanding the Asbestos Risk in Historic Residences

North Carolina and South Carolina are filled with historic homes. Some of these survived the Civil War and are relics of the Antebellum South, while others were constructed during the housing booms following both World War I and World War II. If you live in a historic Carolina house, you may be wondering if there are extra steps you’ll have to follow during remodeling projects. The answer, unfortunately, is “Possibly.” 

There are so many factors at play in any home renovation, particularly when it comes to older residences. One thing that may cause you to have to adhere to additional regulations is asbestos. If your Carolina residence hasn’t been updated since the 1980s, the odds are good that it still has asbestos siding or even asbestos insulation. As you read on, you’ll learn more about asbestos and the risk it can pose in historic houses. 

What is asbestos?

First and foremost, it is important for you to understand what asbestos actually is. This material is lightweight and fibrous, which made it the perfect choice for a variety of purposes in the residential and commercial construction industries. Because asbestos was so versatile, it was widely used on projects throughout the United States from the 1930s through the 1970s.

In the 70s, doctors and scientists began connecting cases of cancer, namely mesothelioma, to workers who had previously worked with asbestos for years. Cancer, and other lung damage, occurs when the small spiny structures that comprise asbestos are inhaled. As a result, its usage was banned throughout the USA in the 1980s and the material was classed as a known carcinogen. 

What do I do if my house contains asbestos materials?

There is no single answer to this question. As a matter of fact, it depends largely on where you live. Different states and municipalities have different regulations for how asbestos-based materials have to be handled. In some areas of the Carolinas and elsewhere, homeowners are allowed to cover asbestos shingles and tiles with new materials, such as vinyl siding, without first taking them down. This is because asbestos particles are actually only dangerous once they become airborne. 

In other regions, however, asbestos must be carefully removed by professional teams. This usually involves Hazmat gear and tenting the house in question. Although there is no hard and fast rule regarding where removal is required, asbestos laws tend to be stricter in urban centers, such as Charlotte and Charleston, than in rural parts of the Carolinas. 

If you have questions about asbestos removal in your zip code, contact your local City Hall. They will be able to provide you with all of the information you need. If you discover that you need to hire professional asbestos removers, they may even be able to recommend experts in your area. If not, there is a wealth of information about asbestos removal companies in every region of the country online.

If you are interested in having new siding installed on your home, contact the team at Hatch Homes to learn about all of the materials we work with, including fiber cement, vinyl, and wood. 

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