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  1. #1
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    Default Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Believe I've identified asbestos tape on ventilating duct but seek 2nd opinion. This is a single family dwelling built ~ 1953 situated in New York. If YES, then, is it recommended to encapsulate it? How common is it?

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  2. #2
    Daniel Leung's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Ken, cover it by a duct tape. Here are recommendation from BC Health:

    Does my home contain asbestos?

    If your home is more than 20 years old, then you are more likely to have asbestos insulation wrapped around your furnace ducts or pipes, as well as in your floor tiles and other areas.

    Asbestos is not a risk to your health if the material is in good condition. Asbestos poses a potential health risk only when it is fraying or crumbling.

    How can I make my home safe?

    Make a visual check of all your hot water pipes and furnace air ducts. If the asbestos or insulation material is breaking or coming apart, cover it up. To protect against asbestos fibres, you should wear a face mask, disposable coveralls, and gloves to do this work.

    Buy a roll of duct tape and completely rewrap any areas that are no longer intact. Once the work is done, take extra care to contain any dust using a wet cloth and drop sheet. Do not use a vacuum cleaner to collect asbestos dust, as most vacuum bags allow the smaller, more dangerous fibres to pass through the collection bag and back into the air.

    Some forms of insulation may look like asbestos, but they are actually mineral or fibreglass-based insulation materials that are not a health risk. If you are not sure, it is always best to be safe. You can have a sample of the material tested for asbestos. Look in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet for Laboratories for Analytical Services or Environmental Services.

    For information on removing asbestos from your home, look in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet for Asbestos Abatement for professional contractors who specialize in this service. Professionals use methods for removing asbestos dust and disposing of the material properly.

    If you are renovating an older house, be alert to unexpected sources of asbestos. Power-sanding floor tiles, plaster walls or partitions made partly from asbestos can release dangerous quantities of inhalable fibres into the air. Get a professional opinion before starting the renovation.

    For more information, visit the BC Ministry of Environment website at www.gov.bc.ca/env/ or contact your local environmental health officer.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    I'd spray that tape down with a mixture of soap and water in a spritzer bottle, and then remove the tape.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    I'd spray that tape down with a mixture of soap and water in a spritzer bottle, and then remove the tape.
    Generally it's recommended to leave it alone.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Yes leave it alone if its in good shape, but the photos indicate otherwise.

    My concern would also be if the tape is in contact with the air stream, since the tape is covering the cleats.

    Last edited by Raymond Wand; 11-15-2012 at 01:54 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    So, the question really becomes, What do you recommend to the client as an inspector and what in the world do you put in a report that a lawyer can read? I know what I recommend and it would never be, wet it down with water and remove it, or I would just leave it alone or any other such comments (even if the EPA says this as the EPA will not be sued by the homeowner if they are told it needs to be removed by some 'expert').

    Since we rarely can be 100% sure by just looking at it if it contains asbestos, we must always recommend the proper course of action for our client. You, as the inspector, must decided what that recommendation is. For me, anything that is a known cancer causing agent (class A Carcinogen) and that I can reasonably surmise might be (as in possible asbestos-appearing substance), I will be advising my client with a proper course of action. Telling your client to just leave it alone and downplaying the issue is doing your client a disservice and opening yourself up for a lawsuit-if and when your client is ever told, "I can't believe your inspector told you to just leave this stuff alone, you know it can cause cancer". A lawyer would have a fun with that.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bronner View Post
    So, the question really becomes, What do you recommend to the client as an inspector and what in the world do you put in a report that a lawyer can read?
    Material in photo is PACM
    ACM can be hazardous
    Recommend that the PACM be tested by a qualified XXX to determine if asbestos is present and if so, course of action

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    I think you need to look around the internet because one of the removal processes is to wet the material down. One site from the UK recommends mixing water with dishwasher soap amongst other precautions.

    There is likely other materials in a home of this age with asbestos, and lead paints.

    My view when I come across asbestos is to recommend testing to confirm if asbestos is present.

    Then I either recommend encapsulating or removal and refer client to authoritative website such as EPA.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    As soon as you start removing it, then you open up a can of worms on the proper procedures, who should do the work, the EPA protocols, approved disposal methods, and on and on.

    If the tape is in tact and a client still has concerns, I advise them to consult with an industrial hygienist and/or spay the tape with paint to encapsulate it and leave it alone.

    If the material is damaged, loose, or frayed, I don't think you should advise to just wet it and remove it because the disposal issues are still there. I tell clients to consult a hygienist. Of course, most buyers will ask the seller to have it resolved.

    In all cases, I advise clients to go to the EPA's website for information before deciding on what action to take. Many of the other websites regarding asbestos have a monetary interest in the advice they offer, which can confuse a client. This was the case, for me earlier this week, when I had a client who was hyper sensitive to this issue. We had two lengthy post inspection conversations on the subject. It can be a sticky issue with a sensitive client and I think you have to use considerable discretion in the comments and advise you give.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    OMG, they need to move out of the house!

    NO they don't!

    As a home inspector your job is to identify issues in the home. So you simply tell them that you found PACM (define what this is) on the ductwork and that is it possible that it could be in other locations around the home. Then recommend that to be sure of what the material is it will need to be tested by a qualified person and then follow their directions if it is positive for asbestos

    Encapsulation is the most widely used method of dealing with it. But, with the tape already pulling away from the ductwork it really should be properly removed. How it is removed or who does the removal is not up to the home inspector. We should just be reporting what we find and giving a recommendation as to what should be done, but not how to do it. When home inspectors start designing repairs and telling folks how things need to be done then this is when the inspector, IMVHO is going into areas they should not go. Now, if you have all of the proper registrations, certifications, licenses and knowledge the go for it, but the vast majority of home inspectors don't!

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 11-16-2012 at 07:56 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
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  11. #11
    Daniel Leung's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    FYI Here is what U. S. Environmental Protection Agency said:

    The Federal government has developed several laws and regulations designed to govern the use of asbestos and better protect the public. In 1986, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) was signed into law as Title II of the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). Additionally, the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA), passed in 1990, required accreditation of personnel working on asbestos activities in schools, and public and commercial buildings.

    Specifically, Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools (October 30, 1987 40CFR Part 763, Subpart E) [ PDF 79 pages | TEXT ]outlines a detailed process that ensures the safe management of all asbestos-containing building materials (ACBM) by a designated person (DP) for a Local Education Agency (LEA.

    Additionally, the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA), passed in 1990, required accreditation of personnel working on asbestos activities in schools and public and commercial buildings. Specifically, the Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (40 CFR Part 763, Appendix C) [ PDF 25 pages ] required the use of accredited inspectors, workers, supervisors, project designers, and management planners (schools only) when conducting asbestos activities at schools and public and commercial buildings.

    Although asbestos is hazardous when inhaled, the risk of exposure to airborne fibers is very low. Therefore, removal of asbestos from schools is often not the best course of action. It may even create a dangerous situation when none previously existed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only requires removal of asbestos to prevent significant public exposure during demolition or renovation. EPA does, however, require an in-place, pro-active asbestos management program for all LEAs in order to ensure ACBM remains in good condition and is undisturbed by students, faculty, and staff.


  12. #12
    Rod Corwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    My concern would also be if the tape is in contact with the air stream, since the tape is covering the cleats.
    What Raymond said. Biggest concern.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    I have never recommended leaving asbestos in place. My recommendation every time I see what appears to be asbestos is "have material tested and removed if proven to be asbestos". I never see any of it that is not disturbed, damaged, frayed, or crumbling in some form or fashion.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Material in photo is PACM
    ACM can be hazardous
    Recommend that the PACM be tested by a qualified XXX to determine if asbestos is present and if so, course of action
    Ditto the above. As home inspectors we are not asbestos abatment contractors. Here in Ca. it's a seperate contractor license. Make suggestions for solutions if as well as being a home inspector you are a licensed professional asbestos contractor.

    Greg Filian
    http://www.MobileHomeInspectors.com
    714 612-3564

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    IF someone was to remove asbestos duct tape (with water and fabric softener mix), and had to dispose of it, they might find that putting it in a bucket of wet concrete gets rid of it pretty well. Not that I have ever done that.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Leung View Post
    Ken, cover it by a duct tape.
    Duct tape is not a good encapsulant. It's fine for a while, but what happens when the tape starts to come off (as it always does), or you want to properly remove the asbestos? Then you've got a real mess on your hands.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Yes sir looks like asbestos tape to me but, I always recommend it be tested to determine if its asbestos or not. I always a defect in my reports, this so I'm not held liable. Don't touch it remove it, leave it to the experts to determine what condition its in.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Morgan View Post
    Believe I've identified asbestos tape on ventilating duct but seek 2nd opinion. This is a single family dwelling built ~ 1953 situated in New York. If YES, then, is it recommended to encapsulate it? How common is it?
    I would put in my form, "possible asbestos duct tape, have checked by licensed asbestos abatement contractor". As I'm not a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. In mobile homes of the mid 60's I see it regularly.

    Last edited by Greg Filian; 07-28-2013 at 10:18 AM. Reason: More information
    Greg Filian
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Morgan View Post
    Believe I've identified asbestos tape on ventilating duct but seek 2nd opinion. This is a single family dwelling built ~ 1953 situated in New York. If YES, then, is it recommended to encapsulate it? How common is it?
    I have seen this many times. It is likely to contain asbestos. Unlike most other inspectors I typically tell my clients verbally that if they have concerns about environmental conditions they should hire an expert. My insurance does not cover environmental inspections. And, I tell them, by the way, that material is one example of what might be an asbestos containing material in this house.

    When you give a lawyer an opening, you never know what might happen.


  20. #20
    Stephen Masek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Asbestos tape on ventilation duct?

    Yes, that is asbestos paper tape. While, I own a consulting company, there is no need to hire a consultant. An abatement contractor can remove and properly dispose it. Too bad most HVAC contractors have not bothered to obtain asbestos training, so they could handle such stuff (legally). There are numerous other things which could contain asbestos, so if the owner is planning to work on the building, an asbestos consultant (certification or license required in most states) should perform an asbestos survey (the words survey and inspection are interchangeable).


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