Electro Static Filter, Air Scrubber, New Ducting and a new furnca

headsup286December 13, 2012

Hi everyone. I'd appreciate some advice on a heating system question. It's long winded, sorry!

My wife and I bought a 1400 square foot home in California (built in 1961). The home has the original forced air heating ducts (no A/C) throughout the house. They are wrapped in an asbestos product. The furnace is about 10 years old and shows no indication of problems. I've been told it's probably about 80% efficient. There was an additional room added onto the house (1988) and they extended the heating system into that room. It looks like they tapped right into the existing duct and possibly exposed some of the asbestos from the wrap around the duct.

The home inspector told us about the asbestos being around the ducts but said it wasn't a problem unless it was exposed which he did not indicate any problems with. He noticed no tears in the wrap. I brought someone out to clean out the air ducts (professional heating and air company) and they said they won't touch it due to the asbestos wrap. The heating and air company informed me that the additional ducting into the new room was done incorrectly and may have exposed asbestos fibers. The heating and air company said there "may be" a tear in the wrap near one of the vents into the room.

The heating and air company said I need a whole new system ideally. According to them, it needs all new ducting after a haz mat team takes out the old ducting ($$$$!) as well as a new furnace. He also recommended using an electro static filter and getting an air scrubber as well. He said that we could install the electro static filter and the scrubber in order to help deal with the possible asbestos fibers in the ducting. Then come back later and redo the whole system and add the existing filter and scrubber to the system.

My questions are this:

1. Should I be concerned enough about the asbestos to redo the entire ducting or would a electrostatic filter and scrubber be sufficient to deal with it?
2. Do electro static filters and air scrubbers really work well? Especially with asbestos?
3. Can a professional repair a duct that has some exposed asbestos? Seems to me that replacing the entire ducting is pretty extreme.
4. The ducting is 60 years old. Should I just bite the bullet and have it redone anyways?

Some other things to note, we are planning on replacing the furnace in the next few years anyways because we want to move it out of a closet and into the attic to create more space for a kitchen remodel. I imagine trying to move the 10 year old current furnace into the attic instead of replacing it is probably a bad idea. Tell me if I'm wrong. I'm also not talking about doing any of this myself. It would all be done by professionals. It's our first home and the numbers we've seen on costs are pretty scary.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

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I hate to say this, but an HVAC company will not touch anything that has asbestos. You can forget about modifying or repairing the existing duct work. In general asbestos in a home is safe as long as it is not disturbed. The problems start when you do a renovation which cause the fibers to float in the air.

I would not recommend moving the furnace to the attic unless you plan to build a conditioned space in the attic.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 8:02AM
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