How to Spot Asbestos Wiring

(Image: screwdriver image by Sid Viswakumar from

The public has been well warned against asbestos in our homes, schools and where we work. It was put into so many things: ceiling tile, floor tile, caulk, roofing and much more. It was also used in manufacturing electrical wiring. If you have an older home chances are you may have some asbestos insulated electrical wiring running through the walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Lamp
  • Socket
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight

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Turn off the circuit to a room that's suspected of having old asbestos insulated wiring. After turning off the circuit, plug a lamp into one of the wall sockets and turn it on to verify the right circuit was correctly turned off. If the light bulb doesn't light up the circuit has been properly cut.

Take a screwdriver and unscrew the cover to the wall socket the lamp test was done on. Next unscrew the two screws holding the socket inside the outlet box. There will be one at the top and one at the bottom.

Pull the socket straight out of the outlet box. Turn the flashlight on and look closely at the end of the wires where they are screwed to the socket. If the outside of the wire is black fabric and you can see white fiber where the bare wire is sticking out from the insulation then the wiring has asbestos insulation wrapped around it. The white fiber is is at least 50 percent asbestos.


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