Q: My house was built in 1942 and it has brittle siding tiles that a neighbor tells me are "cement asbestos." This doesn't sound good. Tell me why I shouldn't immediately rip these things off my house...?
R. Nelson, McComb, Mississippi
First things first: don't go wantonly ripping off these siding tiles. Because they contain asbestos, they are potentially dangerous if disturbed. Asbestos, if left alone, is not dangerous. It's when you start sanding, sawing, ripping, or otherwise demolishing an asbestoes product that you start to run into problems.
Why Remove Your Asbestos Cement Siding Shingles?Consider this carefully. If it's your intention to reside your house, first speak to the siding company. Most siding companies are well-experienced at siding over existing siding. Removing the asbestos cement siding, in addition to the health hazards, only more work to your project and will cost that much more. And keep in mind that removing asbestos cement siding is not a simple matter of calling up a local contractor. Depending on your locality, chances are good that you'll need to obtain special permits and have a special asbestos abatement company perform the work.
Asbestos Cement Siding is Over 100 Years OldAsbestos-cement is a mixture of portland cement reinforced with asbestos fibers. The portland cement binds asbestos fibers into a hard mass. Asbestos cement was first developed in 1905 by the Johns-Manville company, who became one of the premier manufacturers of cement-asbestos materials. It was used in places where fire or extreme heat needed to be contained: chimneys, dormer windows, skylights, scuppers, shingles, and nail holes on roofs, and for protecting beams, posts, walls, and ceilings. It was natural that the next step would be to find a way to manufacture this into siding shingles for residences.
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