Removing asbestos siding from your home is possible but be sure to consider the pros and cons involved.
Below you’ll find practical tips and advice for removing asbestos siding but it’s important to know all of your options before you leap in.
Removing asbestos is also just the first step as you’ll still have to have new siding installed once the older siding is removed.
You’ll also be responsible for disposing of any siding that is removed, which can be very costly in some states and can only be done at certain landfills.
If there’s any bright side to having asbestos siding on your home it is this: siding is one of the easiest forms of asbestos to remove safely.
Below you’ll find some tips and best practices for dealing with asbestos siding. Arm yourself with the knowledge you’ll need before making any big decisions or plans.
Pros and Cons of Removing Asbestos Siding
Asbestos is only dangerous when the fibers are broken up, disturbed, and circulated in air. Inert asbestos material that is undisturbed poses no health risks whatsoever.
In some situations, it’s actually safer to leave asbestos intact and in place in your home. The urge to remove it is very understandable but the process of removing asbestos siding and other material can be more dangerous than just leaving it in place.
Visual tests aren’t guaranteed to be accurate so the only way to know if you have asbestos in your siding or other materials is to have samples tested by a lab.
Asbestos siding can also be encapsulated instead of removed, most commonly by installing vinyl siding over it. This is a safe and effective way of ensuring that asbestos siding remains intact and undisturbed.
Asbestos siding is very durable, in many cases lasting 50+ years without any surface damage. It can easily be painted and siding shingles that have cracked or chipped can be replaced.
GAF and James Hardie both make replacement shingles in a variety of profiles and styles, letting homeowners replace any pieces of broken asbestos siding instead of removing all of it.
Safety Precautions for Asbestos Siding Removal
If you do decide to remove asbestos siding from your home, you’ll either need to hire a licensed contractor or tackle the job yourself if you live in a state that allows it.
Contractors are required to use a variety of equipment when handling asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and are regulated by OSHA and other agencies.
Homeowners tackling siding removal themselves will need to take some basic safety precautions and invest in some equipment such as a respirator rated for work with toxic dust and asbestos and disposable Tyvek suits.
The fact that siding is installed and handled outdoors is a key reason why asbestos siding can be removed safely in most cases.
The biggest danger with removing asbestos materials such as insulation, sheetrock, and tile flooring in homes is that any fibers that are released can accumulate in the air and be re-circulated throughout the entire home or office.
Working with siding is different, although a respirator should be used to protect workers and any clothes worn should be disposed of after each day of work. Never wash any clothes worn (even under a Tyvek suit) as this can introduce asbestos fibers into your home.
How to Remove Asbestos Siding
You’ll need a respirator, Tyvek suit, work gloves, contractor bags, and tools to pry and remove each siding piece from the wall.
Wet siding down thoroughly before you start to minimize any airborne fibers and keep each section of siding wet as you work on it.
Remove each piece of siding carefully, taking care to try to not break or chip it in the process. Place each siding shingle carefully in a heavy contractor bag. Don’t fling it down from a ladder; bring down each piece carefully.
In some cases it will be very easy to carefully pry off each piece of siding while in others it may be difficult. Experiment with various tools such as prybars or screwdrivers to see what works best for your particular situation.
Don’t overfill bags with siding pieces as they will be heavy. Double bag all siding and seal securely. Depending on local laws you may need to label all bags as containing asbestos material and dispose of in landfills that accept asbestos waste.