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Asbestos Boiler Insulation: Risks And Precautions

It’s common knowledge today that asbestos is a dangerous substance. It used to be the main insulating material used in many buildings, but as the dangers of this material on our health came into light, there has been extreme measures taken to ensure its removal wherever possible. The Control of Asbestos Regulations in the UK now prevents asbestos being imported, distributed and used.

In this guide, we’ll explain what asbestos is, the dangers of asbestos boiler insulation in a property and how you can identify and remove it.

What is asbestos?

In the years leading up to the 70s, asbestos was a popular choice. Being heat and fire-resistant, it made sense for properties to have it installed as insulation for roofs and boilers, and even building materials. However, due to the microscopic fibres, asbestos became a substance to avoid. Once these fibres are released into the air, they can cause a number of severe health problems.

Asbestos removal quickly became a necessity and still continues to be that way today. Doing so requires a professional asbestos removal team who will dispose of it in the right way.

Types of asbestos.

There are three main types of asbestos in three colours; white, brown and blue.

  • White, or Chrysotile asbestos – This is the most common asbestos type. It can be contaminated with small amounts of tremolite. This material is toxic and inhaling it can put you at risk of lung cancers or asbestosis.
  • Brown, or Amosite asbestos – This type of asbestos is strong and heat resistant which used to be in cement sheets, plumbing and electrical insulation. This type also has a higher cancer risk if exposed.
  • Blue or Crocidolite asbestos – The fibres contained in this type are very thin, and if inhaled, they can get lodged into the lungs easily. It is also one of the most harmful forms.

Asbestos in boiler insulation.

Older boilers are at risk of having some sort of asbestos boiler insulation fitted. Years ago, boilers would be fitted with asbestos boiler insulation around the pipes and doors, as well a layer of asbestos concrete all the way around. It was a way of helping to keep energy costs low and to prevent the risk of fire.

Boilers in homes, schools and industrial sites to name a few were exposed to asbestos insulation. Thankfully, these days, a lot has been done to ensure these buildings are asbestos free and much safer for everyone who could have potentially come into contact with the substance.

Asbestos testing in the home.

If your home was built before 1980, there is a risk that it could contain some sort of asbestos. Floor and ceiling tiles, boiler insulation, pipe cement and roof shingles, to name a few, could all potentially hold certain levels of asbestos.

Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is airborne. For example, if it is damaged in any way or if the insulation around a boiler deteriorates, the fibres will be disturbed and released into the air. Opening and closing doors will spread the fibres further, as well as ceiling fans and any other movement of air.

To check for asbestos in your home, you’d often need more than just a visual inspection. This wouldn’t be enough to identify the material. Instead of this, samples of suspected fibres will be collected and sent off for analysis.

It’s important to seek the advice and assistance of a certified asbestos professional to take the samples for you. They will know how to minimise asbestos exposure and how to remove the samples without putting you at risk.

Boiler asbestos survey and removal.

An asbestos survey provides accurate information about the asbestos in a property. It details the type of asbestos material alongside its location, and the amount there is in that location.

The survey will give the removal professionals time to devise a management plan and a risk assessment before completing any work.

Burning and burying the material is against the law and incredibly dangerous due to the amount of harmful fibres released into the air. In doing so, this won’t just be harmful to the person removing the asbestos, but also to anyone in close proximity.

The correct way to remove asbestos will involve a professional sealing off the contaminated area using negative NEPA filtration sheets and dressing in protective clothing with respirators. When the area is safely contained, the removal professional will begin to remove the asbestos and put it into disposal containers before being taken out through the filtration sheets. This will prevent any fibres from being released into the air.

Once all the asbestos has been removed, the contaminated site will have to be cleaned thoroughly using specialised vacuums and filtration tools. The air will then be tested to make sure that it’s entirely safe to breathe.

Asbestos boiler removal cost.

The cost of removing boiler asbestos can vary depending on a number of factors. The amount of asbestos is the main one; the more there is to remove, the more costly it will be. There may also be extra costs for a more extensive asbestos survey to be carried out.

The cost for removal can be estimated by going through different stages.

  1. Identification.
    A survey should be carried out to determine where the asbestos is in a property and how much there is. The survey will also detail the potential risks upon removal. You must have a survey completed beforehand - the costs of the survey will always depend on the job, as no two jobs are the same.
  2. Encapsulation or removal.
    You may have two choices for dealing with the asbestos or you may be given one or the other. To prevent the spread of contaminated air, encapsulation could be an option. By applying a protective adhesive to the material containing asbestos, you’ll prevent harmful fibres from being released. This can cost around £10 per square metre.
    If you’re going down the removal route, professionals can charge around £50 per square metre. Even though this is more costly, you’ll be in a much safer environment without the threat of asbestos dangers. It’s more than worth the investment.
  3. Finishing.
    From the removal, you may be left with the need for redecorating or finishing. This could cost around £300-£500 depending on supplies and whether a professional is needed.

Asbestos boiler flue removal cost.

The cost of removing a boiler flue due to asbestos may be similar to the above. The asbestos here is most likely to be asbestos cement in an older system, so it will need removing.

It’s recommended that you get a quote from a professional for asbestos boiler or flue removal, as these can vary depending on the company.

Asbestos boiler insulation should be dealt with immediately.

If you’re at risk of harmful asbestos fibres, get in touch with a professional right away. It’s important the substance is disposed of correctly to keep you and the people around you safe and to prevent severe health problems.

For more information about looking after your boiler or if you need help in finding a specialist to remove boiler asbestos, pop up on our live chat and we’ll talk you through the process. If you’re looking to upgrade to an asbestos-free, quality boiler, use our ‘Find A Boiler’ tool to find the right one for you.

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