Types and cost of asbestos testing | Do I need an asbestos inspection? | How do I know if my home contains asbestos? | Who do I call for an asbestos test? | How much does asbestos removal cost? | Can I save money with an asbestos test kit and DIY removal?
The cost of asbestos testing in the United States typically ranges $226-803, with $492 as the average price.
If your home was built in the 1990s or later, it's unlikely to contain asbestos. But if your home is older, read on for helpful information about asbestos testing.
Types and cost of asbestos testing
There are different types of asbestos testing performed in specific scenarios.
An asbestos inspection, also sometimes called an asbestos survey, costs $200-800. This is a general examination to confirm or rule out the presence of asbestos in the home.
This type of asbestos inspection includes:
- A visual search for common risk factors
- Gathering samples from areas that appear suspect, including pipes, insulation, and roofing materials
- Testing the samples for asbestos in a certified lab
- Delivering a comprehensive report on the findings
Since laboratory results can take a week or two to process, your inspector should provide their report within 15 days of their initial visit.
If damaged or disturbed materials containing asbestos are found in the home, an asbestos air test may be warranted. These tests range $200-800, with the average price of $500.
An asbestos air test will determine whether or not asbestos particles are present in the air within the home. Inhaling asbestos can cause major health concerns.
If piping materials are found to contain asbestos, you may need to have your water assessed to see whether it's been contaminated. The average cost of this type of water test is $100-300.
Deeper study may be required beyond what a standard asbestos inspection includes in certain scenarios. This may involve accessing subflooring or insulation within the walls, for example. The price of this additional work is dependent upon its scope.
Type 3 inspection
If a general asbestos inspection reveals dangerous asbestos, an inspection and management survey will be required, also known as a Type 3 inspection. This inspection will arm the property owner with all the knowledge they need to move forward with asbestos abatement.
This level of inspection is also necessary when a renovation or demolition is planned for a property containing asbestos. The aim is to provide a more in-depth analysis of the problem to ensure the safety of the home's inhabitants and any workers performing duties as part of its construction or demolition.
A Type 3 asbestos survey identifies all potential risks using visual and invasive techniques. It includes even "hidden" elements of the home such as air ducts and electrical wiring.
The average cost of an asbestos inspection and management survey for a single-family home is $1,200.
Add-on asbestos inspection
Some general home inspectors are also certified as asbestos inspectors. They may be able to bundle their services to save you money if you choose to have an asbestos inspection at the same time as your home inspection when buying or selling a home.
The average cost for an asbestos assessment performed alongside your home inspection is $330.
Some background on asbestos 📚
Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that's been used in construction as far back as Ancient Greece because of its durability and insulatory properties. Starting in the 1800s, it was mined and used to manufacture products.
Research proving the negative long-term effects of asbestos exposure began appearing in the 1970s. The material's thin strands can linger in the air and enter the lungs when inhaled, causing illnesses such as mesothelioma, pulmonary fibrosis, asbestosis, and types of cancers in the lungs and larynx.
An international ban in 1979 made it so that building materials can only contain 1% or less of asbestos fibers. However, pre-ban materials were still used in construction across the United States throughout the 1980s.
Do I need an asbestos inspection?
If your home was built before 1990, you may need an asbestos inspection.
Materials made with asbestos flake and crumble as they age and when they are damaged, emitting dangerous fibers into the air.
If there is damage to the structures (walls, floors, etc.) of your older home, you need an asbestos inspection.
If your older home has previously been remodeled, you may opt to have an asbestos inspection for peace of mind.
If you plan to remodel or renovate any areas in your older home and these plans may disrupt structures that contain asbestos, you will be required to have an inspection prior to starting work.
Left undisturbed, living in a home with asbestos is safe. So, if you are buying a home that contains the substance, it's your choice whether or not to have an asbestos inspection performed based on its condition and your future plans.
A smart realtor can help answer any asbestos-related questions throughout the home-buying process.
How do I know if my home contains asbestos?
Within a home sale, the seller must disclose that the house contains asbestos if they are aware of it.
Asbestos typically appears as long, thin, curled crystals. Materials that commonly contain asbestos include:
- Vermiculite insulation (looks like loose brownish pebbles)
- Any other style of loose pour-in insulation
- Popcorn ceilings
- Coated cement pipes
- Vinyl floor tile
- Certain types of roof shingle
If your pre-'90s home contains any of these materials, you may want to consult an asbestos specialist to find out if it's safe.
Who do I call for an asbestos test?
Asbestos inspectors conduct home asbestos testing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that licensed inspectors are certified and knowledgeable about proper asbestos safety. For more information on asbestos requirements and certifications in each state, consult the EPA web site.
Often, general home inspectors and air quality inspectors may also be certified as asbestos inspectors.
Asbestos inspectors must work with specially certified labs for the analysis of asbestos samples, as noted in The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986. The National Institute of Standards and Technology lists accredited labs on its web site. Make sure your inspector uses a lab on this list.
Check that your inspector is federally or state trained and fully licensed to deal with asbestos. When working with asbestos, it's especially critical that the inspector understand how to handle the material safely. Any inspector should provide their credentials upon request.
It's generally best to use different companies for inspection and mitigation services to avoid a conflict of interest.
How much does asbestos removal cost?
Prior to removing asbestos, you'll need a refurbishment or demolition survey, which informs the process for contractors. This inspection costs an average of $1,200.
Asbestos management, or dealing with asbestos, can cost between $1,200-3,000, depending on the project's scope.
Prior to most asbestos abatement services, you'll need to hire a special cleaner to prep the area. This usually costs about $40 per square foot.
Standard asbestos removal also costs about $40 per square foot, with popcorn ceiling removal generally priced a little higher at $42 per square foot.
Encapsulation is another option for homes containing asbestos. Basically, this involves spraying a type of coating on the asbestos-containing material so the fibers cannot become airborne. Asbestos encapsulation costs between $2-6 per square foot.
Once you've removed or encapsulated the asbestos in your home, you'll need to have your inspector out for another visit to confirm the job was completed to standards.
Will my home insurance cover asbestos removal? 🏠
Generally, home insurers do not cover the testing and removal of asbestos as indoor pollutants are part of their "pollution exclusions." However, if the release of asbestos was due to an event beyond your control such as a hurricane, your home insurer may pay for its removal.
Can I save money with an asbestos test kit and DIY removal?
DIY asbestos test kits are widely available for $10-65, a significant savings compared to hiring a professional inspector. And DIY asbestos removal is legal for single-family homes (and much less expensive than costly abatement services).
However, the EPA strongly recommends that a professional do both of these jobs to avoid accidental exposure to hazardous materials. Professionals already have the right tools, safety equipment, and knowledge of how to properly collect samples, remove asbestos, and dispose of it safely.
If you insist on removing asbestos yourself, note that some local laws require a demolition permit beforehand. Also, you'll want to prepare the proper gear before you get started, including:
- A respirator mask
- Plastic gloves
- Plastic sheets to enclose your work area
- Plastic garbage bags
- A pump sprayer (working with wet asbestos keeps the fibers together)
- An air purifier to help catch any loose fibers
- A vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean up afterwards
Be sure to identify a landfill or trash service that will take your asbestos-containing materials when you are finished, as you cannot dispose of asbestos in your regular trash bin.
Be mindful and avoid breathing in harmful fibers. If you experience any signs of inhalation such as coughing, chest pain, a crackling sound when breathing, or any general breathing difficulties, seek immediate medical attention.
Though hiring help is costly, putting your health at risk is too. For more info on how to safely handle asbestos in your home, visit the EPA's web site.