Two years ago I decided it was time to take on a little project in my kitchen. There was a built in pantry cupboard, in one corner of the room that I intended demolishing so I could extend the worktop and cupboards into the valuable space. I started by removing the door and the internal shelving. It’s a great feeling to swing a hammer in anger!
Anyway, having succeeded in removing the shelves (I was left with some very nice timber boards to use on another project) it was time to begin taking down the walls and door frame. I was pleasantly surprised, at this stage, to find that the wall was actually made of a timber frame with a lath and plaster finish. Result! This was going to be easy. I began hammering away to remove the lath and plaster and became immediately suspicious when I noticed a fluffy filling in the wall. It had a blue-green tinge to it, so I stopped work immediately.
Everyone must have heard on the news, the dangers of asbestos. Since my house was built in the 1950’s, I was aware that there was a chance I could come across it at some point while working. I did further research and would like to share with you, what I found out.
Asbestos is found naturally and was mined and heavily used in the building industry right about the time my house was built. Of course no-one had any idea just how deadly it was at the time.
It has amazing heat resistant properties so was widely used as insulation in walls, lofts and for lagging pipes and boilers. It was also made into an insulating sheet which looks just like plasterboard but can be spotted by a trained eye. Many people will have come across asbestos in the form of corrugated sheets on shed or factory roofs. In fact, asbestos had so many uses you would be astounded if you knew everywhere it could be found.
The material fibres are deadly to us. They are so tiny that they lodge in our lungs and cause asbestosis and lung cancer. There is no cure for these diseases, and they are fatal. It can take many years for symptoms to show, however, so it is not immediately identifiable. Thankfully, the use of asbestos was outlawed in the 1970’s but we are still living with the legacy.
Having found what I thought may be asbestos in my walls, I taped some polythene over the hole and sought out a specialist to get advice. C Jackson and Sons are one of many expert companies found online who are qualified to deal with asbestos issues.
A survey was carried out, and tests showed that asbestos was present in my wall. Very quickly a team came on site and sealed off my kitchen for the day while the problem was dealt with. Wearing filtered, positive pressure breathing apparatus, the contractor took the wall down for me, and removed all traces of asbestos from my home. A survey of the rest of the house showed that no further asbestos was seen, and, unless I carry out more building work, the house should be safe.
I learned a valuable lesson when doing this project. I will be more vigilant next time, when carrying out any upgrades to my home. You never know what is lurking there.