How to Identify Asbestos in Siding

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It can be difficult to determine if your siding contains asbestos.
It can be difficult to determine if your siding contains asbestos. (Image: Paul Viant/Photodisc/Getty Images)

For families living in older homes, knowing how to identify asbestos is extremely important. Most people understand that asbestos can be found inside a home, but what they may not realize is that it can also be found in the home’s siding. Asbestos was used in many building materials during the19th and 20th centuries, but in the 1980s, people began to suspect there were health risks associated with asbestos building products.

Review the deed of your home to determine if the home was built during a time period when asbestos siding was used (if your home was built in 1978 or before, asbestos building products may have been used in the original building materials). Check the siding to ensure it is in good repair (even if the siding does contain asbestos, if it is in good repair, leaving it in place is best).

Inspect the siding to determine if there is manufacturer information printed on it (if this is the case, the siding was likely installed after the 1960s and is most likely not asbestos). Determine how many layers of paint are on the siding and whether or not the siding is fiber-cement siding. You may need to have a professional take a look at the siding to determine this; if there are many layers of paint, the siding may contain asbestos.

Look for windows or doors that have been replaced. Compare siding around the doors and windows with the rest of the siding. If the newer siding, which was most likely replaced along with the window or door, has fewer layers of paint, compare this to the other siding. Alternatively, have a piece of the siding inspected by a trained lab professional if you believe you have asbestos siding, but are unsure and want to make certain.

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