If you are considering asbestos abatement for your house, you are probably thinking of hiring a contractor to do this job. But it’s quite possible that you do not have any clue about what points to consider before hiring a contractor. It’s also quite possible that you have no idea about what safety precautions you and the contractor should take while getting the asbestos abated from your house. In this article, we will attempt to clarify these very same doubts that exist in your mind.
However, before we go on to these important issues in asbestos abatement, we need to know exactly what is asbestos and why is asbestos abatement important.
Let’s first focus on what exactly is asbestos. Well, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber. It has been commonly used in industries, especially in the construction industry. Since it is extremely durable and survives exposure to heat and chemicals very effectively, it has been used throughout your house. It is present in your vinyl flooring, ceiling, textured paints, roofing material, stove and furnace insulation, pipes and even in your appliances.
If asbestos is so durable and so extensively used in your house, why at all you should consider asbestos abatement? Well, here’s why. When you inhale the asbestos fiber, you are causing major harm to your health. Asbestos fibers are released into the air and as they float around in the air, you and your family members are constantly inhaling it. Inhaling of asbestos can lead to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers such as cancer of the stomach, oesophagus, colon and rectum. And the worst part is that Asbestosis and Mesothelioma have no cure. These are deadly diseases that can cause as lot of pain and anguish to the sufferer.
So now that you understand what is asbestos and why asbestos abatement is important, let’s get our attention back to the issue at hand. What points to consider while hiring a contractor for asbestos abatement in your house. Here are some points which you should keep in mind while making your decision.
- Speak to at least three or four asbestos abatement contractors before picking the right one.
- Check the license of the contractor. The license should be current, valid and from an authorized license board.
- Call or visit the state license board and check whether the contractor was actually given the license. You can also check the website of the concerned license board to find out whether the contractor’s name is present in their database of certified contractors.
- Check to see if there are any complaints registered against the contractor. The website of the license board may have a mention of these complaints. If not, you can always find about any past complaints by personally visiting the office of the concerned authority.
- Ask the asbestos abatement contractor for a minimum of three references. Follow up on the references by calling or personally visiting these previous customers. Ask the following questions:
- Were you satisfied with the contractor’s work?
- Did you have any problems with the contractor?
- Did the contractor give a clear description of the process before beginning with the task?
- Could the contractor follow the instructions of the customer effectively?
- Did the contractor deliver on his promises? Was he able to do all the things that he included in the process description that was given at the beginning of the project?
- Did the contractor overcharge? Did he charge anything extra than the agreed total cost?
- Did the contractor complete the process in the specified time? Did he take more time than he specified at the beginning? If yes, why did he take more time to finish the job?
- Check to see the insurance policy. Make sure that the contractor has occurrence-type insurance. Occurrence coverage means that you can file a claim against the asbestos abatement contractor, if you think that asbestos was not completely removed from your house, anytime after the work is complete.
- Another important document is the performance and completion bond. These bonds should clearly state that the payments would be made only when the job has been satisfactorily completed. It should also specify the amount of cash that the contractor has a right to receive, in case the contractor’s contract is canceled or if the contractor is not able to complete his job.
- Find out if there is a comprehensive and ongoing asbestos abatement training program to train their employees. If the company has a detailed training program, then you can be assured that the workers who will be working on the asbestos abatement process will be knowledgeable and skilled.
- Ask the contractor for the cost which will be involved in completing this project. The cost involved in the asbestos abatement process can vary depending on these factors:
- the kind of asbestos abatement process required,
- the amount of asbestos to be handled, and
- the time required to complete the process.
- Make sure that the cost includes the cost of air monitoring, labor employed and the cost of waste disposal. Also check if these costs are included in the contract.
- Ask the contractor if there are any additional costs. Make sure that the total cost and the details are clearly specified in the contract.
- Describe the nature of the project exactly in the same manner to all the contractors you interview. This will help you in comparing the bids of each contractor.
- Ask the contractors to provide you with a written list of all associated costs, whether it is the cost of labor or the cost of material or the cost of air monitoring or waste disposal. Make sure that all the contractors give you a written list of all the costs which are associated with this process. This will make it easier for you to compare the bids of different contractors.
- Ask the contractors to provide you with a written work plan. Ask the contractor to include the procedures for both the abatement and the cleanup. A written work plan will help you in comparing the bids of the different contractors. It will also help you to understand the costs involved at each stage of the process.
- Make sure that the contractor has tools available for carrying out the process. Do not let them use any of the tools and equipment present in your house. Even the use of your mops, vacuum and hose should not be allowed.
- Ask the contractor what safety precautions will be taken during the process to make sure that you and your family are safe from the harmful effects of the asbestos.
Now that the asbestos abatement contractor has been hired, here are a few points which you should consider while the contractor is doing his job:
- Before the contractor begins to set up his work area, remove all items which are not contaminated with asbestos away from the work area. You can do this yourself or you can ask the contractor to do this for you.
- The contractor should use a plastic sheet on the walls and floors to isolate the work area from the rest of the house. This work area will be the containment area.
- There should be a decontamination unit called decons which has a working shower and it is connected to the work area.
- A HEPA unit should be used to make sure that the asbestos fibers do not spread from the containment area to other parts of your house.
- The contractor should use an airless sprayer. This is supposed to keep the material containing the asbestos wet while the removal is being done.
- Throughout the process, air sample pumps should be used. These pumps will collect air samples while the removal is being done.
- The contractor and the workers employed should be wearing protective equipment such as a protective suit and a respirator while working in the containment area.
- Once the asbestos has been removed, it should be put in sealed plastic bags before it is taken out of the work area.
- Check to see what kind of containers the asbestos is being transported in. The container should be wet. It should also not be reusable.
- The waste should be transported to the waste disposal site in a closed vehicle.
- The containers and the vehicle should include caution labels.
Inhaling asbestos is definitely dangerous for the health of you and your family. Asbestos abatement procedures should be employed as soon as possible. You may even decide to do it yourself. If you do, you will need to be extra cautious while carrying out this procedure. Hiring a good contractor, who specializes in asbestos abatement will take the load off your mind. But this will only be possible if you hire a good licensed contractor. So consider the above mentioned points before you hire a contractor. You have to take utmost care to ensure that the contractor disposes off the removed asbestos in a proper and safe way and in a designated landfill which is authorized to receive asbestos. These steps will go a long way in protecting your family as well as your environment from these hazardous substances.