Asbestos removal

trevizaJuly 27, 2010

I just bought an old home with asbestos lined steam pipes and furnace in the basement. Because the duct wrappers are in very bad shape (chipped/frayed in many places, and some on the floor/work benches) and we are changing to forced hot air, we are planning to rip the whole thing out so we don't have to worry about our toddler every time she passes through the basement to get to the garage.

I had two asbestos abatement companies came and gave estimates. Both sound very professional, but their proposals are quite different. The first one just said that they will clean out the asbestos on the pipes and scrub them down, and take off the jacket of the furnace and remove the asbestos inside, and leave the removal of the pipes and the furnace to my HVAC person. The second company came, measured everything, check the washer/dryer, floor, and work benches, and told me that they have to scrub the floor/other surfaces and clean out the washer/dryer, on top of removing the pipe wrapping. Also, they said that they have to remove the entire furnace. The reason being they have no way of getting to all the asbestos without completely dismantling the furnace, and since the furnace are already broken down into a million little pieces they may as well haul away the trash. The dismantling and the cleaning will be done within the containment zone; all they do is take out all those broken pieces with them along with the asbestos.

Which comes to my question - is this necessary? They are charging quite a bit more than the first company, but they sound like they know their stuff. Also, does typically asbestos removal includes scrubbing down all exposed surfaces? I wonder if the first company may just assumed that it is part of the package and neglected to tell me about it. The second company also offer to remove the pipes for extra. Should I take that offer? Or is it good enough to just ask the asbestos removal company to just take care of the asbestos and leave that to my HVAC professional?

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I can't answer your basic question about which proposal is better, but I have a suggestion that might help. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has Regional offices around the country and each of them should have an asbestos staff that can answer technical questions, and also confirm whether the contractors you have bids from are actually EPA-certified. They may also be able to tell you whether there are any complaints against either of them. Since I don't know what state you live in, I'm providing the link below that will let you find out which EPA office to contact. In addition, your State should have an environmental department that can provide some similar advice. And, finally, if you live in a big enough city, there may also be a local environmental authority with expertise in asbestos removal.

Here is a link that might be useful: EPA Regional Offices

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 5:36PM
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