Asbestos heating pipe insulation in poor conditionHow to spot asbestos in poor condition & what to do about it

  • ASBESTOS in POOR CONDITION - CONTENTS: how to recognize unsafe asbestos materials in buildings: asbestos products that are in poor condition or subject to damage, movement, becoming airborne or otherwise forming a particular hazard.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to inspect buildings for damaged or unsafe asbestos based on the condition of the materials

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How to identify damaged or unsafe asbestos installations: this article shows how to spot asbestos in poor or damaged condition in buildings & what to do about it, including identification of amateur or improper asbestos "abatement" projects that failed to properly remove materials or that left abandoned asbestos materials in place.

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ASBESTOS IN POOR CONDITION on heating pipes - How to Recognize

Photograph of asbestos pipe insulation in poor condition

This document assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple visual inspection.

We provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.

While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples,

keep in mind that many asbestos-containing building products not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases.

See CEMENT ASBESTOS SHINGLE WEAR SIGNS for indications of worn, friable cement-asbestos products.

For asbestos-containing flooring, see ASBESTOS FLOOR HAZARDS.

Also see ASBESTOS DUCTS, HVAC a field identification guide to visual detection of asbestos in and on heating and cooling system ducts and flue vents.

Also see Micro-Photographs of Dust from the World Trade Center collapse following the 9/11/01 attack. Links to U.S. government and other authoritative research and advice are included.

Asbestos insulation in poor condition like this water pipe asbestos insulation in an 1875 home (falling off, or mechanically damaged) should be removed and properly disposed-of by an asbestos abatement professional.

INCOMPLETE, AMATEUR REMOVAL - Asbestos on heating pipes - incomplete, amateur removal - highly suspect for contamination

Amateur incomplete cleaning of asbestos on a heating pipe

Shown above, fuzzy scraps of asbestos-suspect material left on a rusty steel heating pipe in a basement indicate that asbestos insulation was removed without cleaning and sealing the surface of the pipe.

Shown below is a close up of asbestos debris left on a heating pipe. The insulation was simply removed without cleaning.
Amateur incomplete cleaning of asbestos on a

Below we illustrate another heating pipe elbow which was not cleaned of asbestos insulation. Unlike the "corrugated paper" asbestos insulation used on horizontal pipe runs, an asbestos paste was used at pipe elbows and on other irregular shapes.
Amateur incomplete cleaning of asbestos on a

Photograph of  Amateur incomplete cleaning of asbestos on a Here is a close up of asbestos insulation paste left on a pipe elbow, evidence of amateur workmanship during an asbestos insulation remediation.

The orangish fibrous material under the white covering on the straight pipe runs is fiberglass pipe insulation which has been added.

But the remaining paste on the elbow tells us that the pipes were not cleaned and washed during the remediation.

Someone installed fiberglass heating pipe insulation around the elbow but left the elbow un-cleaned.


The building owner had been told that a proper asbestos removal had been performed and that all pipes were re-insulated.

A professional asbestos abatement company with properly-trained workes and competent supervision would have washed these pipes and probably painted them with a sealant.

Finding scraps of asbestos insulation material left on heating pipes (such as in these photos) is a strong indicator that removal was done by an amateur. In such cases I recommend that the building air and settled dust on surfaces be tested for asbestos contamination since removal was by amateurs.

Any air handling equipment (such as a central air conditioning system) should also be checked for asbestos fiber contamination.

When we see evidence of short cuts and amateur workmanship in an asbestos remediation project we're worried that there may have been asbestos contamination of other site or building areas.

So the expense to "correct" this condition, if testing confirms cross-contamination of the site with asbestos fibers, could be greater than the simple cost to clean and re-insulate the piping. Professional cleaning of other building areas could be needed.

Watch out: in 2010 The New York Times reported [paraphrasing from that article] that over a five year period beginning in 2001 hundreds of asbestos-removal training certificates were given to people who had completed no training whatsoever.





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